Car Activities for a Young Toddler

We recently had to travel to Texas and back home again, for at total of 1,044 miles, with our 15-month old.  A couple of factors added to the already stressful experience of traveling with a young toddler — we planned to make the round trip in a total of three days, and the reason for the trip was for Stella to have her upper lip and posterior tongue ties revised via laser by a specialist.  I happen to have a pretty mellow little girl, but traveling with a little one can be exhausting, regardless, let alone one who has just endured oral surgery and is scared and in pain.

In the week leading up to our trip, I took some steps to make travel a little easier on all three of us.  In my Google and Pinterest searching, I had no problem finding car activities for older toddlers and preschoolers, but little luck finding anything I thought was suitable for a 15-month old.   So, I came up with my own based on things Stella was interested in and things I thought she might be interested in.  Hopefully this list will give you some ideas to ease your travels with your own little one.  In addition to these activities, my husband or I sat in the backseat with her for the entire trip, except when she was napping.

The whole lot:

The whole lot!

These are just pony beads in a glass spice jar.  They sound cool when you shake them and Stella loved putting them back into the jar one by one and hearing them “clink.”  Good for fine motor skills, too.

These are just pony beads in a glass spice jar.  They sound cool when you shake them and Stella loved putting them each back into the jar one by one and hearing them "clink."  Good for fine motor skills, too.

Don’t underestimate the ol’ standby of popsicle sticks and an oatmeal can 🙂  Stella played with this over and over and over again (and still does, more than two months later!).

craft sticks and can


This is an old hummus container. I cut a hole in the lid and stored some poms inside.  She loved pushing the poms through the hole.  Different sizes of poms made it more interesting.






Are you beginning to notice a theme?  Toddlers love dumping and filling, and Stella is no exception 🙂  This is an old wipes container with fabric strips and ping pong balls to put in and take out.  She definitely loved the fabric strips way more than the ping pong balls.




Wipe container


I found these wooden animal shapes at Wal-mart for less than $1 a piece.  I added magnets to the back and took a metal pan for her to stick them to.  This pan ended up not working out very well because of the size — an actual cookie sheet would probably work better.


Animal magnets


Stella was really into this zip/velcro pouch that I usually carry in my purse and she also loved to play with rocks.  So, I give you…rocks a in bag. The things that entertain toddlers, right?!


Bag of rocks


Baby dolls, of course.  We don’t go anywhere without baby dolls.


Baby dolls

One of her favorite things to do is look at pictures of people she knows, so I took a small photo book full of pictures.

photo album

These are “busy bags” that I made duplicates of when I made some for a friend’s toddler.  The velcro sticks were a hit, but the other two (flannel board and magnetic fish) didn’t interest her much.

Busy bags


I was able to fit all of the goodies into this box that fit nicely on the floor of the backseat.



She spent at least some time on all of the activities I took, but the poms and the photo album were the most popular.  We also took a lot of books to read and that was probably her favorite activity.  The trip there was much smoother than trip back, but she was a trooper, for sure!


One thought on “Car Activities for a Young Toddler

  1. Pingback: Our Journey with Lip and Tongue Tie | Cherishing Childhood

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