Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Things We Do: The car box

This is a fairly new introduction to our toolbox, but so far *touches wood* it's having the desired effect.

So what is it? Well, it's a box that lives in the car that is full of things the children can do whilst we're travelling. Increasingly Mini is struggling with journeys of more than the 5 minute drive to school, which means even a quick trip into town can cause anxiety and stress for him, and anxiety, stress and a headache for whoever is driving.

Dollop has always enjoyed taking a toy in the car with her - and she's content with a teddy, a doll or even a handbag with a few random pre-school fascinators in it. Mini has never been bothered, until recently - maybe the last 6-8 months - and now HAS to have something in the car too. If Dollop doesn't bother, than Mini doesn't either, but to ensure absolute and even fairness (in Mini's eyes) when she does, then he does.
However, we know how much he struggles with decisions don't we?
This means that whilst Dollop has an idea of exactly what she wants, Mini doesn't and generally can't decide between even 2 things. Put a time limit on it, and all that means is that a bomb will explode at the end of that time limit. Choose something for him and it'll be wrong...the bomb will still explode. The possibility of choosing the wrong thing provokes such strong feelings, that it's just too difficult to risk making the wrong or right choice.

So the car box lives in the car. It's full of things to do - 2 clipboards with paper, 2 dot to dot books, 2 pencil cases packed for colouring in, 2 pairs of binoculars and a describing game (which Mini's proving to be very good at already). It removes all decisions about what to take in the car. It provides interest and activity. There's a mix of solitary activities and family games. It's proving a hit (except for my lack of forethought when I'd only bought one pair of binoculars, that's now been rectified!).

I could, of course, have done what many families do - bought an in-car or portable dvd player, but there are still decisions about what to watch aren't there? And I'd rather at 3 and 7, the children didn't have any more screen time than they already do. So the box it is, if you have any ideas of travel games or activities that we could include, please do let me know.


  1. lovely! any ideas as to limiting screen time is good! we were a little older, but we did word games - whatever one word ended one had to be the first of next persons go. We usually did animals: so 'duck' could be 'kangaroo' moving onto 'orang-utan'. another favourite game was and is 'Points'. decide before you head off how many points you get from spotting something first. We had things like 1 for a bus or a cab, 2 for a post box, 5 for a church and 10 for an ambulance etc… This can lead to a lot of screaming/naming if it get heated, but on long journeys it makes kids look out of the window. digger already plays spot machines, and scream 'Digger!' or 'Crane' or 'Bus!' whenever he sees one.
    Perhaps these games have proper names…?
    I'll go get started on our box now. ;)

  2. Our boys have etcha-sketches and a mini water painting thing. Those live in our car box. We also have one of those puzzle balls where you tip the toy to get a ball bearing around a maze. There's always a few books with flaps and feely buts too. Sometimes we have sticker books. We tried fuzzy felt, but that was a bad plan. We swap things around every month or so to keep things interesting.

  3. I have a version of this, more just a mess in the car, but Boyo has a couple of I-Spy books which are great - especially I Spy on the motorway and I spy on car journeys, and the rest I change depending on the length of the journey. He mainly draws. Listening to cd stories is always a hit with Boyo as well.

  4. I made quiz sheets for a little girl I fostered. A list of 10 - 20 things for her to spot during the journey. Nothing too difficult and I overlooked the odd bit of cheating.........eg. spotting a "McDonalds" in a tiny village (?). Things like 2 birds on a fence, postbox, green car, numberplate with a "P", house with a red door etc. etc. She loved it and wanted the same sheet day after day!