Toddler Activities for Road Trips: dollar store addition

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5 hours in the car doesn’t seem like too long… unless… you’re traveling with two under two (or any tiny humans really).

Toddlers are confusing little creatures. So sweet but can turn on you in the blink of an eye. So, traveling can be well.. challenging. Being prepared with a literal bag of tricks can be a game changer.

With a $25 dollar budget I set out to the dollar store looking for anything and everything that I could DIY to entertain my toddler in the car. Things were bought and not to brag but I basically made that road trip my “b*tch.”

The dollar store is amazing when you are DIYing especially for tiny humans. Here is what I found to make some activities out of:

  1. Cookie sheet
  2. Clip magnets
  3. Pompoms
  4. Glow sticks
  5. Crayons
  6. Plastic bugs
  7. Post it’s
  8. 3 books
  9. 2 wooden puzzles
  10. 2 magnetic pencil bags
  11. plastic organizer
  12. 3 small bags of snacks
  13. Flash cards

How to make something out of nothing

When I headed to the dollar store the only thing I set out to buy was a cookie sheet.  I had seen some amazing post about using it with magnets and wanted to give it a go.  Other than that I wandered around and looked for things I could use in multiple ways.


An oldie but a goody is coloring which is easier said than done in a moving car.  So to simplify coloring in the car I made a magnetic kit.

I used:

  • small cookie sheet
  • magnetic clips
  • crayons
  • coloring pages
  • an recycled feta container
  • magnetic tape 

To make coloring on a road trip easier I used to clips to hold the coloring page in place and the feta container to hold crayons.  I simply added magnetic tape to the feta container to keep it from moving. These few small switches made it much easier for my two year old to color while in his car seat.


The dollar store is really STEPPING UP THEIR GAME y’all.  They had the cutest little puzzles for you guess it $1! I grabbed two of those bad boys and decided to utilized that cookie sheet again.

I used magnetic tape and made one puzzle magnetic so my son could make the picture on the cookie sheet. 

For the other puzzle I decided to make the back on the puzzle board magnetic so he could do the puzzle without it moving around. 

Busy work

Kids love to do things- literally anything at all as long as they are moving.  SO, help them out and create “busy work” even more than that busy work to help them with fine motor skills.  These projects could be done with an array of things but this is what I had around my house.

Card Drop

I took:

  • a cocoa tin
  • deck of cards

cut a slit in the lid big enough for the cards and there ya go!  A simple task for busy hands

Pom Pom Push

Same concept I took those

  • plush pom poms
  • an old oatmeal container

cut a hole big enough for the pom pom to go through with a little effort and let them push them in the container.  This was also a fun color review- ask them what color they have in their hand.

More Ideas

I also had these things that he could drop or push in containers:

  • Plastic bugs
  • post it notes
  • plastic sea creatures
  • flash cards


I found some cute books at the dollar store.

Small, simple, board books work great.

If you have little babies these cloth books were great to hang from the car seat and kept our baby entertained. They rattle, squeak, and crinkle.

Buy NEW books (or new to them-second hand is always a good option).  Make them excited to explore them even if it only buys 5 minutes of quiet.

Unexpected fun

While wandering the dollar store I found glow sticks and decided to grab them. BEST. IDEA. EVER.

If you driving in the dark at all these are awesome.  We left at 4 am and our toddler woke up while we were putting him in his car seat.  These were so cool to hand him in the dark car.  He got to play with something while it was dark, it looked cool and it was unexpected. He’s only played with these are parties. Find something small but out of the norm to hand your kiddo.


Yep. We all hate to admit it but there is nothing better than food when it comes to keeping kids entertained, happy and quiet.  So, instead of packing a million bags of snacks I bought small bags and brought this with us.

One like this that has a bunch of small slots. Then fill it with dry snacks.  It will keep you from opening bag after bag and gives your little a bunch of options.


Some ideas for your snack box:

  • pretzels
  • fruit snacks
  • gold fish 
  • dried fruit
  • chips
  • raisins
  • cranberries
  • nuts
  • small candies 
  • marshmallows
  • baby carrots
  • granola bar cut up in pieces

Organize it all

If you are traveling with kids then I already know you are playing tetras with how to get all the things there and still have room for the kids!

SO, to keep it all organized I also bought these awesome magnetic pouches to keep things in and to easy hand back to the kids.

I had a snack container for each kids loaded and ready to go.

I had a pocket to books

I loaded it all up into a diaper caddy that I had at home like this:



So there you have it!  A bunch of cheap, easy and life saving things to take on a road trip with tiny humans.

What things do you take for your kids to do in the car?  Let us know below!! 

(2) Comments

  1. Oh man! That snack box is so clever! I wish I’d seen that before our road trip to Florida.

    1. lenabiggs says:

      It was so great. He had a lot of options and I didn’t have to hand anything back to him

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