Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

TOS Crew: Activity Bags – Travel Activites and Math Games

on November 5, 2012

If you’re tired of DVD’s or hand held electronics to keep your children busy on long car rides then I have product I’d love to introduce you to.

Do you’re children cry or whine over math?  Want to know how you can make it more relative to their life AND make it fun – I have another product I’d like to introduce you to.

Activity Bags were an idea of two moms, Paula and Sherri, Paula called Sherri needing an idea to keep her younger child engaged with something educational while she schooled her older children and together the idea of activity bags was born for themselves but soon exploded to a need and want among other moms.  I think most of us with several children can relate to needing to keep younger children engaged whether it’s during school time with the older children, during meal time prep, car rides – there comes a time when a child needs to occupy themselves and we tire quickly of the over-stimulation that electronics give.

The first product I was given was the Travel Activities in a Binder which is geared for elementary ages but are even fun for mom or dad (depending on who is driving) to play along with their children.  It includes the e-book which is then downloaded and you print off the needed pages, and assemble them into a binder.  You could also join or host a swap which could save time and money. It is suggested to use heavy duty page protectors that are easily wiped off but I chose to trim the pages, laminate them for more lasting durability, and insert those into a binder.  The e-book contains 40+ activities (tic tac toe, hang man, scavenger hunt and many, many more, that can be easily brought along in the vehicle and enjoyed with only a dry erase and an eraser.  Those items are neatly tucked into a pencil pouch that is also included and all instructions are given  so if you have a reader or two you won’t have to be asked to explain each game and drive at the same time.

I did tweak some things as I’ve mentioned, instead of page protectors, they are simply too expensive to have asked my husband to buy, I laminated them by trimming the paper to fit and then three hole punching through the laminate.  If you have an older child they can help and you can do an assembly line-like production.  Of course if you’re doing a swap, the swap coordinators handbook is not included in this e-book, you’ll want to follow the hostess’ instructions if they chose to do it as outlined.  I thankfully, had dry erase markers laying around, and if you’re worried about children’s clothing and markers there is a brand that makes washable dry erase markers.  A pencil pouch that is made to be in a 3-ring binder is great place to contain the markers and eraser – I simply cut a few pieces of felt to be included for erasers.  Washable and cheap!  The Travel Activities in a Binder sells for $15.00

This was definitely a hit in our house, even inside the house, so don’t limit it to time spent traveling.  It can be used for those times when some quiet down time is needed, no electricity or while waiting in a doctor’s office.  I can see my family getting many more uses out of this binder, and if your older child feels they are too grown up to play the games have them ‘be in charge’ of helping the younger ones learn how to play the games.  I’d love to host a swap at some point as I think each family, even those with one child omitting the games that need two players, could benefit from this binder of fun travel activities.

The next product I was given was the Math Games in a Bag, which is exactly what it sounds like – games for math in a bag.  Using items around your house, the bags are easily assembled to create 33 games that have children using problem solving, strategies, computation and other math skills so that it’s fun but they are learning the needed math skills.  I did have to purchase a few items as I don’t have dice laying around the house, playing cards, and plastic storage bags – overall though the cost was minimal as I found what I needed at the local dollar store.  If you want to coordinate a swap you will need to purchase the coordinator’s handbook separately.

The premise is that you’ll print off the directions, those are then adhered to the front of the bag with clear packing tape – so that there is no hunting for directions (I don’t know about you but I hate going to play a game and then having to hunt for the directions!).  Then the pieces are assembled.  Most of the pieces like cards are recommended to be printed on card-stock – my printer hates card-stock and I can only feed one sheet through at a time – so in the interest of time I used regular printer paper, cut the pieces, fed them through the laminating machine and then re-cut them.  A bit more time intensive but less so than hand feeding sheet by sheet through my slow moving printer.  Everything goes into a bag with all pieces and instructions, so it makes it easy for the children (most games do require two players) to grab a game and play it with it each other or with you.

What do you do with the bags?  You could put them in a decorative basket so the children know they are available all the time (I prefer to make games like this available so they can see math can be fun) and can be utilized when there is downtime or when a child utters that phrase “I’m bored”.  There are many size tubs available now as well that you could put them if you want to keep them up and away or out of sight.  The most important thing is to get your children to use the bags so that math facts become relevant to them.  If you have a younger child that hasn’t began to learn a certain math fact then have an older child who has work with them and team up.  One thing I haven’t done but will be doing is occasionally canceling math lessons and opt for them playing a couple of these math games in a bag!

If you want to see what other homeschool parents thought of these and other Activity Bags check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.

****Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.



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