Hands-On Travel and Rainy Day Activity Pack Ideas – Fun Quiet Activities To Keep Children Busy

Have you ever found yourself struggling to keep your child busy and content during long car trips, general travel, flights, or in a waiting room? Gadgets and phones often come to the rescue and can be absolute life-savors. However, it is always a good idea to keep an entertainment pack handy and ready to go when you would like to give those little hands and eyes a break from screens and electronics.

In addition, not every child enjoys spending more than a couple of minutes focusing on a screen. It is important to mention that the quiet activity pack you prepare in advance becomes an effective tool to help children relieve their anxiety. Traveling or waiting in an unfamiliar environment can be stressful and overwhelming for the littles.

We can help them shift their focus and attention and make the experience positive and rewarding instead of miserable and dreadful. When we set children up for success, we can help them self-regulate and settle for a long journey with hands-on activities on a go. Being prepared and equipped with the right tools helps us keep our sanity and children happy during travels or even on a rainy day.

Today there are many options we can use and gather fun and engaging activities that help our children enjoy their time whilst working on fine motor, problem-solving, creativity, and strengthening cognitive skills.

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Young children are not meant to wait patiently or sit still for long periods of time. Their natural ability to focus on one task is very short and depends on how old they are. When we provide simple activities they are excited to do, we set them up for success and allow them the opportunity to develop the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Let’s get real. Children’s attention span is very short – 2 years old four to six minutes, 4 years old eight to 12 minutes, and 6 years old 12 to 18 minutes.

Yet when they get engaged doing age-appropriate activities that meet their natural abilities and spark their interest, this ability to concentrate grows significantly and allows their brain to develop deeper connections and patterns, it strengthens their confidence and helps them succeed.

So if you are looking to gather activities to include in your quiet hands-on pack, I have a couple of ideas I would love to share to help you save time and effort. You can always purchase ready-to-go activity packs that have many great options for children to keep them entertained. However, I found that often it’s more cost-effective to have a base on supplies that are personalized for your child that you can top up when necessary. Parents who are well aware of their children’s interests and fascinations, and developmental stages have a better chance of putting together an activity pack that is going to be a hit with the child.

I have three packs tacked away for my three children that I pull every time I need. Here are some of the ideas for activities you might like to include in your quiet pack.

  • Something special, like a small, not bulky toy that has a novelty factor – something your child hasn’t played with before
  • Card games – make sure these are age-appropriate and fit in the child’s hands
  • Activities for problem-solving such as story blocks, knots and crosses, etc.
  • Crayons or gel pens – something to draw and write with that does not leave marks and doesn’t break.
  • Small notebook – Young children generally like to draw, so a I would recommend journal style notebook
  • Older children might prefer writing so I also include lined paper notebooks that can easily take the role of index cards in case you decide to play a game.
  • Activity book with coloring pages, stickers and games with a theme that suits the child’s current interest
  • Fidget toy – my children love water ring toss games
  • Small book the child’s hasn’t read before
  • Small tub of playdough
  • Soft quiet books
  • Origami activities
  • Family photo album
  • Comfort toy
  • Dice games

If you notice that your child could benefit from a positive reinforcement tool, I would recommend creating a small-size booklet together with the child with reminders of socially friendly behaviors in various situations. Brainstorm with your child and suggest ways we behave in cafes, libraries, in shops, or when visiting relatives and write them down. Take photos of the child demonstrating positive and friendly behaviors.

Make a booklet on your computer, insert photos, print pages, cut if necessary to create a format that would be convenient to put in your activity bag, and bind the pages with a metal ring. These positive reinforcement tools can be a great way for your child to learn to become respectful and mindful of others when out and about, set the child up for success, and boost his or her self-esteem.

A small tip – it is a good idea to purchase some of those supplies in bulk and replace items as needed.

I prefer not to include any craft materials and puzzles that come with small pieces and objects as they can become a nuisance. Demonstrate to your child how to use his or her activity pack beforehand – encourage the child to take one activity at a time and reinforce the idea that he or she should place it back in the bag before taking the next one out. Explain why and have a step-by-step demonstration.

Generally, my children have the backpacks they take with them on trips. I use a see-through durable office folder with a zipper to store their activities that fits inside their bags.

Also, brainstorm with your child what you are going to do in a situation when other children are present who are keen to try some of those things out. You might like to allocate objects your child would be willing to share – for example, a book or a toy.

Hands-on Activity Packs I prepared for my three children

4 year old girl

  • Human body sticker activity book
  • Washable crayons – a pack of 8
  • Unicorn themed water ring toss game
  • Small doll and horse
  • Small tub of scented playdough
  • Multicolor pen
  • Small scented pens
  • Notebook for drawing
  • A stamp
  • Children’s mini-book (not included in the photos)

6 year old boy

  • Dinosaur themed coloring and scratch paper
  • Multicolor pen
  • Water ring toss game – dinosaur themed
  • Knots and Crosses wooden game
  • Stamps
  • Small cars
  • Crayons – pack of 8
  • Scented playdough – small tub and playdough press
  • Softcover chapter book (not included in the photos)

10 year old girl

  • Small hamster toy
  • Origami book with origami paper included
  • Water ring toss game
  • Notebook
  • Small size journal
  • Scented pens
  • Multicolor pen
  • Scented playdough
  • Stamps
  • A deck of cards
  • Story blocks for making up stories with picture prompts
  • Softcover chapter book (not included in the photos)

When going on road trips, I always take all pointy objects such as pencils, pens, and crayons out of their fun pack for safety reasons.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.