I love road trips. I love long road trips that take you on holiday to a place far away from reality – the road trip is the opening chapter to your time away, and the beginning of a (usually) much-needed break. But now that we have a little person, road trips are different. Instead of me just worrying about what snacks and other padkos we need to keep us going, now I have to worry about the needs of a small human whose attention span is short, and whose wants are more extensive and immediate than my own. The question of how to keep a little person entertained for an 11 hour car ride ran through my head constantly as we prepared to head off for a two-week holiday.
And so to the Internet I went – the speedy solution. I wanted to find a toy that I could make at home from found objects that wasn’t too intricate but could keep a one year old fascinated for at least 20-30 minutes. Google took me to a page that had a picture of a car toy – made of string and bottle tops – that you attach to the headrest of the seat in front of where you child is seated. I like this idea as I have both string and bottle tops, but only bottle tops seem boring to me, so I hunted around for more things that I could attach to the string that included variety – in texture, sound, and movement.
I found the basics in terms of string and bottles tops, but looks for lids of all different shapes and sizes. Variety is key to keeping your child’s interest.
For making holes in your tops/lips, a good sturdy screwdriver is great. I pressed on a thick breadboard so as not to make any holes in my table. If you need extra strength behind you, using a hammer is also useful.
Be careful if you’re using drink or sauce bottle tops that are made out of metal – you will need to file down/trim the edges around the hole that you’ve made. You don’t want your child to be cut while playing with their new toy. I found that using pliers helped to get rid of any sharp edges.
Empty egg boxes are great to cut out and made different shapes with – the texture of an egg box is so interesting for little hand to explore.
And I found a whole bunch of other things – empty toilet rolls, a coffee cup holder, coffee cup lid, spoon, empty capsule holder, key ring, cookie cutter – as well as various light-weight toys that were lying around.
Other creation tools I used were scissors, various types of tape, different coloured string and ribbon, a punch, paint and chalk.
- I strung green string in and around the one empty toilet role to add a new dimension to it.
- I painted various pieces of cut off egg box and toilet roll.
- I taped up other pieces with different tapes for more interesting textures and sounds.
- I added some curled ribbon.
You can try to make knots between your objects, but it all depends on the sizes of the holes you’ve made/have. I’m no expert knotter, so when I tried it didn’t always work how I planned. But once you’ve strung everything together, I displayed my ‘art work’ on a chair at home – not too bad I thought.
Tie the ends of your string to the legs of the head rest in front of where your child will be sitting in the car. When you do this, make sure that you take your child’s arm length into consideration – if the toy is too tightly wound, then your youngster won’t be able to reach the toy properly. The part that dangle rather low are also great for little feet to kick and fiddle with.
All ready to go on our road trip and the exploring has begun.
When other toys became boring, our little guy kept coming back to our home made car toy. Because it hangs in the same place throughout, you don’t have to worry about it dropping somewhere unreachable, and so it’s always there for your child to have as a play option.
I was very impressed at how this seemingly simple toy provided so much entertainment for our little boy. The creative possibilities are endless in terms of what you can add to the string. It helped to remind me that children are fascinated by really basic things, and that seriously fancy and expensive is not always the answer. We’ve packed the toy away for now and will haul it back out for our next road trip – something to look forward to again.