The Ultimate Car Ride Activity Binder

DIY car activities kids can get behind.

by Dan Robitzski
A black car ride activity binder

Keeping your kids entertained for road trips while staying focused on the road is challenging. Sure, you could toss a Nintendo Switch at them, but you may not want them staring at screens that whole time.

You can buy them activity books, sure, but why not make your own? By putting together a binder of activities — interchangeable pages of puzzles and games and coloring — you can both save some money and engage a bit more in the backseat play. When they get bored, another game is waiting for them right on the next page, and unlike a coloring book that might last them half an hour, adding new activities is as easy as swapping out a page protector. Here are five activities to get your book started.

Road Trip Bingo

The Idea: Make blank bingo boards, but instead of letters and numbers, each square can be something that you can see from the window, like a stop sign or a puffy cloud. With your kids on the lookout, they can mark a square each time they see something out the window. And just like regular bingo, the first to make a complete line wins.

What You Need: Paper, bingo templates, stickers or dry-erase markers.

How to Make It: Download and print out blank road trip bingo templates (like these) or get on the computer and make your own. If you’re making your own using clipart, make sure each card is different so everybody doesn’t win at once. Then just cut them out, stick them inside a plastic page protector, and add in some colorful circle stickers from any local craft store. Alternatively, you can use dry erase markers on the plastic sleeves to make the game more reusable.

Mark the Miles

The Idea: Tell your kids to keep their eyes peeled for mile markers on the side of the road. Each time they spot one, they can trade in a paper mile marker that they made for snacks or anything else. This one may not work as well for your great cross-country road trip, but it can help stave off the “are we there yet’s” during the home stretch.

What You Need: Construction paper, print out numbers, scissors, glue, snacks

How to Make It: Fold a piece of paper so that you’re leaving some space on one side. Glue around the edges of the smaller part then stick it together to make a folder. Then stick the number tickets into the folder, and have snacks ready for when your kid trades them in.

License Plate Map

The Idea: Who doesn’t remember sticking their faces against the window desperate to spot the elusive Alaska or Hawaii plate before our siblings did. For this one, give your kids an easy plate to mark off each state as they see them.

What You Need: A license plate game printout, markers or stickers.

How to Make It: Print out a license plate game sheet (like this one) and slide it into a page in your binder. Have your kids mark them on the plastic sheet instead of the paper itself so you can keep using the same page on your next trip.

Coloring Papers

The Idea: Everyone loves arts and crafts, and if your kids get tired of looking for things out the window, you can keep them occupied with some coloring projects.

What You Need: Coloring sheet printouts, crayons or markers.

How to Make It: Print out black and white coloring images (like these!) and slide them into some plastic page protectors. Then pile in some crayons, markers, or whatever else you like into a three-ring pencil case. To keep the car messiness level down, we recommend leaving the colored pencils back home.

Felt Game

The Idea: If you’ve got the space and are comfortable risking some spilled glue on your back seat, you can also give your kids craft supplies to make some 3D masterpieces with squares of felt and props like googly eyes and pipe cleaners.

What You Need: Felt, colored cotton balls, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glue.

How to Make It: The best part is that your kids will do the assembly on this one. You can get all these supplies at any craft store (though you may need to cut the felt into small squares) and give them as they are to your kids to let them create their own beautiful artwork.