Commuter kids

By: Leah Macpherson

Author: Canadian Living


Commuter kids

By: Leah Macpherson

We've all been there. Trapped in a car listening to a litany of woes: "I'm bored. I'm hungry. There's NOTHING to do!" Many children endure long commutes, and those daily rides to school or activities can seem endless. A good offense is the best defense, so be proactive and get organized! Car friendly snacks, age appropriate activities and audio entertainment will keep little people occupied (and NOT whining!) on the road.

Meals on wheels
Food expert and writer Madeleine Greey recommends preparing healthy, car-friendly fare. "You can't just reach for the cracker box every time," she says, "take the time to prepare healthy snacks the kids will enjoy." She adds a reminder about no-choke foods - make sure foods like grapes, mini carrots and nuts are cut into appropriate sizes, and use mirrors to check on children who are munching. Make the car ride delicious and distracting!

• To keep preschoolers busy, freeze grapes, blueberries or even peas for a crazy, cool treat. Fill a stick of celery with low fat cream cheese and dot with raisins for ants-on-a-log. What kid doesn't want to eat bugs?

• For kids ages 4 to 8 years, spread hummus or 100% fruit spreads on whole wheat bread - use cookie cutters to stamp out sandwiches in cool shapes. Use yogurt to whip up mild tasting dips and fill a container with cut up fruit and veg - kids love to dip.

• For older kids, use whole what pitas to make mini-pizzas with their toppings of choice. Offer wraps stuffed with chicken or tuna salad - add a shot of flavour with olives, peppers or onions.

Busy hands
Tracey Jacobs, Manager of Treasure Island Toys in Toronto, ON, recommends the following activities to distract and delight.

• Preschoolers will love Magnetic Playscene Boards - choose from ballet, farm or Thomas themes. Check out "Children of the World" lacing cards - kids develop hand-eye coordination while learning to lace the beautifully illustrated cards.

• Pocket Etch-a-Sketch is a perfect, creative activity for children aged 4 to 8 years - and will bring back happy memories for Mom and Dad, too! Fumble Fingers, a new spin on ‘cat's cradle', will keep heads and hands busy during long drives.

• The magnetic game "River Crossing" is ideal for kids aged 9 to 12 years. Help the hiker cross the river while avoiding snakes and piranhas. Travel Bingo's retro-cool illustrations will thrill parents and children alike, but be prepared for victorious shouts: "BINGO!"

Sounds like fun
Make good use of your car stereo, and pump up the volume on learning and fun!

• Little ones can enjoy rhythms and songs from The Wiggles or Raffi. Listen to well-loved stories like If You Give A Moose A Muffin or Marsupial Sue.

• Make time fly for your 4-8 year olds by learning a new language through French, Spanish or Mandarin songs and nursery rhymes. Or take a musical learning journey through space with Dr. David Suzuki.

• Most 9 to 12 year olds would be pretty impressed if Dear Old Mom popped Hillary Duff, Avril Lavigne, or GOB into the CD player! Harry Potter audio books are a sure hit with this crowd, or try the classics like Mark Twain or the Wizard of Oz.

Keep little tummies and minds occupied, and commuting with kids can go from harried to harmonious. After all when the kids are happy we're ALL happy, right?

Be sure to check out our road trip boredom blasters.

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Commuter kids