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Put the brakes on road trip boredom with busy boxes

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Keep kids entertained during travel

While playing the "are we there yet?" game is so much fun, the sounds of your youngsters keeping busy with road trip toys will be music to your ears. From car games for kids to travel activities for kids, learn how to put the brakes on road trip boredom with busy boxes.

Busy boxes are a great alternative to traditional learning as well as to keeping kids entertained at home, but customizing a busy box based on your destination also makes your road trip whine-free. Kimberly Kulp, director of marketing and product development at Bridgeway Academy, shares her no-fail formula for assembling busy boxes for home and on the road.

  • Busy boxes should be filled with activities kids can do on their own. Everything in the busy box should be self-directed with minimal adult intervention. "By providing them with the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking, children are more likely to develop their own way of problem-solving."
  • Busy box should be personalized and fun. The key to engaging your child is to fill your busy box with items that appeal to your child. "When choosing what to include, keep your child's learning style and personality in mind and you'll get more mileage out of the activities."

Not sure where to go? Check out these ideas for summer vacations for families >>

  • Busy box should be portable. Pack your busy box in a tote bag or small box to take it on the road. "Keep your destination in mind when choosing activities and you'll not only entertain your kids during the journey but also find them more engaged and excited when you finally arrive at your destination."

  • Keep your busy box up-to-date. "Organic learning happens best when children can make immediate connections with what they experience, so reserve spring activities for spring boxes and winter activities for winter boxes."

  • Bring out the busy boxes at different times. "Busy boxes are great for road trips, but should be used during free time or for teaching as well to avoid having your child associate the boxes with just one activity. If you are a homeschooling parent, plan your busy box times around those subjects that are most difficult and gain valuable, undisturbed time with your homeschooler."

Don't plan your trip before exploring these tips for traveling with tweens >>

Before you take off on your next road trip, explore these top toys including recommendations by The Toy Insider for your busy box.

Box 1: Seaside entertainment

Box one seaside entertainment | Sheknows.com

1. Keep little hands occupied with this ocean-themed interactive My Beach House toy (Aurora, $25).

2. Use repositionable toys in the car and then fold out the mat on the sand with the Gymini Developlace (TinyLove, $80).

3. Take the fun from the road to the shore with these waterproof SplashJack cards (Winning Moves Games, $16).

4. Show kids how fun math can be with the Under The Sea Shell Word Problem Activity Set (Really Good Stuff, $30).

Box 2: Historic destination

Box two: Historic destination | Sheknows.com

1. Learn about the U.S. and Canada with the Critter Cruise app (SylvanPlay, free).

2. Sneak in learning disguised as fun with the Nifty Fifty State Facts for Fun! Book 1 (Wyatt Michaels, $9).

3. Get kids to quiz each other with the Educational Trivia Card Game - Professor Noggin's Card Games (Professor Noggin's, $9).

4. With endless ways to entertain, be sure to pack the LeapPad2 Custom Edition (Leapfrog, $70).

Box 3: Theme park

Box three: Theme park | Sheknows.com

1. Get dressed for the part with Disney's Frozen Enchanting Elsa dress (Toys R Us, $30).

2. Pack transportable toys like Crashlings (Toys R Us, $10).

3. Or pack interchangeable toys like Fash'ems (Tech 4 Kids, $24).

4. Get your kiddos excited for the theme park with the Maleficent Collector Fashion Doll (JAKKS Pacific, $20).

Box 4: Learning through fun

Box four: Learning through fun | Sheknows.com

1. Listen to books on tape with BuddyPhones (Nordic Enterprises, $25).

2. Create art on the go with this 24ct Brilliant Beeswax Crayons in Storage Case with crayons that won't roll (Faber-Castell USA, $11).

3. Keep young minds sharp with the Big Ball of Whacks ball puzzle (Creative Whack Company, $40).

4. Pack toys that can be used over and over like the City Maze (SmartGames, $15).

Read more tips for family vacations

10 Gadgets that make family vacation easier
Sneak in family exercise on vacation
Day trip ideas for families in California

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