OK will start for a bit (kids will be up in a second)
We always stop every 2hrs and find a local area playground so the kids can have a 1/2hr (longer at lunchtime) break to climb and run and use the loo and have a snack if they want. this breaks up the journey into bearable kid chunks and wears them out enough to chill out at some points with the DVD or nap.
pack a small lovey/blanket if they use one or at least a towel which can be multi purpose - clean up accidents, dry feet, use as blanket if cold etc
snacks: we usually take a small soft cooler bag + dry snacks. cereal/meusli bars, dried fruit, pretzels, fresh fruit, dips (like hummos), carrot sticks and various kinds of crackers, peanut butter, cookies, yogurt containers, individual long life milks for Liv, etc
small toys that are great in the car:
1.wipe off colouring books (just found these - instead of dry erase markers or Crayola wonder colour, these use crayons but can be wiped clean and reused)
2.sticker activity and colouring books- i pack at least 2 different kinds per kid
3. cube puzzle sets - they pack easy in their case and because they are cubes you have 6 puzzles per set. liv will try alex's this time (6 blocks in the set) and alex got a new one for her birthday that is for older kids and has 20 blocks.
this gives you an idea - the 1st 3 on this site are 6 and 12 pc sets http://www.ultimatepuzzles.co.za/ravensburger_-_kids_puzzles.html
4. magnetic scenes - colourforms type things or we have ones in little cases (Dora and littlest Pet shop - contained and can use with othet magnet things) and also books with magnet bits lfrom top That - we got the wild animals as a gift and it is fab.http://www.topthatpublishing.com/uskids/series.asp?seriesid=525
5. "look and find" books and pages i photocopy or print from the web. the copies are even better than the books because they can circle the things they find
6. Dino-links - this is new one for us. ages 5+. very small so little space and you can build dinosaurs with the bits and connectors. they have various sets and can make over a 1000 combos. http://www.skymarble.net/Product/cog/290.htm
7. felt sets - we love these. we have a farm one from ELC, a castle theme one and safari one. plus i got a self contained wiggles set for LIv that is a book with a pouch on the cover that keeps all the bits in it. will be taking 2 of our big boards + the felt which i keep in bags.
8. small disney princess dolls with clothes and other small fairies and mermaids etc to dress and act out stories etc
9. new CDs - books and music on CD
then i have got each girl a big raised sides baking tray to use on their lap to contain arts and crafts activity bags that i have put together. I found a few sites ont he web and then ran with it. here is a list of what i have made so far (all kept in separate ziplock bags for storage and cleaning up purposes):
1. pipe cleaners + pony beads: i created a sequence of beads on a pipe cleaner and included a 2nd PC + same beads loose. the girls have to recreate the sequence. i made 4 sets of these so they can swap and then later they can take the beads and create their own sequences.
2. felt shapes: i cut out shapes from various coloured felt sheets and they can create pictures on their felt boards which i am already bringing
3. scavenger hunt - alex and i copied pictures from the net of things we may see on the road (like a red car, a horse, a sheep, yellow truck, M sign from McDonalds...) and i created a single page with all the images (we did 27) and the girls will look out for these things and circle them as they spot them - like a prompted game of I Spy
4. glue stick, paper, tissue paper to tear, foam shapes, paper cut outs with paper punchers - colage work (and No. 5 is another bag with cut up squares of coloured cellophane for another session of art)
6. stringing: i cut up lots of coloured plastic straws and packaged them with lengths of white yarn for them to string along
7. beading: i used a small divided craft case for each girl with a selection of beads and elastic/jewelry cords to make bracelets and necklaces for their friends we will visit in sydney
8. stickers (assorted) and paper
9. nature box - i took a small storage box (IKEA Glis box) and put in it a magnifying glass, leaves, nuts, shells, etc for them to examine
10. various coloured chalk, dark paper, q tips/cotton buds. wil show them how you can draw with chalk and use q tips to smear for effect.
11. open chunky crayons + leaves + coins from around the world (finally put them to some use) for rubbings which they have never done before
others i have not done yet and might skip since i have the DVD player now:
smaller mr potato heads from our family set + items to put together
cutting with their small scissors - draw different type lines on paper (wiggly, zig zag etc) and then they practice cutting them out. then can do their own free form stuff
other ideas for stringing activity:coloured pasta (use food colouring in a bag with pasta) or cheerios
lastly i know you can buy I spy bags in america. they ahve not come here yet that i can see (and cost about $20 each anyway). i read about making it homemade in a bottle and did so:
1 x 1.5L water bottle each (got cheap brand for 69 cents), drink and then dry out
1 x1kg bag rice per bottle
small items that can fit in the bottle opening (a challenge in itself)
use a funnel to put some rice in, then add some objects, add more rice, add more objects etc until bottle is about 3/4 full. seal cap on with glue gun. the kids shake and move bottle about to find the items. since mine are pre-readers i laid all the items first on my photocopier and put a piece of white paper on it and made a colour copy. this will be their reference page. as an idea i put in various beads, a battery, a toy ring, a couple of pom pons, small plastic animals, paper clip, coloured marbles, small coin, red rubber band, plastic barettes, small shell, clothes peg and some other random stuff