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Cookie Sheet Travel Fun

Long car trips with kids SUCK. There’s no other way to put it. They just suck.

When we go to visit family, it’s at least a 5-6 hour drive, or close to 12 when we vacation at the beach. Our boys are 4.5 and 3, so they need a lot of entertaining while we travel. So it’s either come armed with a ton of great ideas to engage them in quiet play from their 5-point harnesses or let them watch ridiculous amounts of TV on a portable DVD player or iPad. I don’t know about you, but I like a little both — handing them toys to stimulate their mind and also letting them zone out a bit. However, I don’t want to load down our precious car space with a ton of toys. I want to conserve space and use what we bring in the most efficient way possible.

I have seen some great ideas for car travel activities with kids via Pinterest (See bottom of post for all the things I’ve Pinned for travel with kids!), and decided to try some out this trip. I had to make a few tiny purchases, but it had a huge payoff. And now, friends, I present to you…

Ways to Use a $1.00 Cookie Sheet for Hours of Travel Fun! at

1. Puzzles

Magnetic Puzzles

Take some of the puzzles your kids have (I suggest using simple ones!) and stick magnet strips on the back so that they can do their puzzle without the pieces ending up all over the car.

2. Magnetic “Paper” Dolls

Magnetic "Paper" Dolls

I found this cute magnetic doll set at Dollar General for $1.00. No boys sets, but both of my boys loved dressing the little magnet girl in all kinds of outfits.

3. Magnetic Shapes

Magnetic Shapes

Our local Dollar Tree had several magnetic shape sets for $1.00. Both boys loved creating little scenes with the shapes, which have strong enough magnets to keep them from sliding everywhere.

4. Matching Games

Octonauts Tot Pack Matching Game

120x240 Teach Your Child To Read
My boys love the Octonauts and I found this Octonauts Tot Pack on 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. I cut out the matching character game, laminated them with clear contact paper, and finished up by adding magnet strips. I had already done the first part months ago, so before our trip I only had to do the magnet part. They have more amazing Tot Packs and Preschool Packs for homeschoolers and more at 1 + 1 + 1 = 1!

5. Travel Bingo has some awesome printable car activities. We really like the Bingo games. I had previous had the boys put their Bingo card into plastic page protectors and used those cheap dot stickers for markers. That worked okay, but not great, because with their preschool-sized coordination, they needed a flat surface to put their Bingo card on while they looked and then added their markers. I trimmed the page protectors a bit so they would fit onto the cookie sheet, then used 1-2 circle stickers to stick it to the cookie sheet. Time for Bingo!

6. Magnetic Letter Fun

Magnetic Letters

If you have a little one learning their ABC’s or learning to read, there’s all kinds of things you can do with a set of magnetic letters! Practice letters, sounding out words, spelling short words, and more!

7. Coloring surface

Coloring Surface

This is kind of a no-brainer, but why spend lots of money on a car lap desk when you can use a $1 cookie sheet for the same purpose? It’s a great surface for coloring/drawing/creating, washes clean, and the edges keep markers from sliding away!

8. Table for eating

When we take trips, we do a lot of eating in the car, and little kids sometimes have trouble with this. Having a flat surface that can steadily hold their food still really helps!

A few bonuses:

Just because you’ve arrived at your location, the fun doesn’t have to end. If you have a refrigerator at your destination, all those magnet games can be played there!

I store all these games and such in Ziploc bags, because I’m cool like that. I want them safe from sippy cup spills but in a container that doesn’t take much room at all.

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What else can you think of for using a $1.00 cookie sheet in the car? Tell me in the comments below!

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About Krista

Krista is a full-time working mom of two boys, currently aged 6 and 7. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Brandon.


  1. I’m in love with you. Will you marry me? We’re getting ready to drive from North Carolina to Florida and I’m not sure how my 2 and 3 year old are going to handle it.

  2. Kristine says:

    One thing I found to be awesome on our last trip was the glowing spinning toys. They are perfect for grasping the attention of my little guys, especially at night. The ones at the Disney store were too pricey for me plus they had more outside moving parts which worried me with my one year old but I found some at toys r us that were perfect… Just maybe not the bright blue light saber… We were afraid it looked too much like a police light after a while!! Lol

  3. This is a great collection of ideas! My family lives 11 hours away, so our 3.5 yr old and 18 month old spend a lot of time in the van. We just recently returned from one such trip, and I used the magnetic puzzle idea (before I found this on pinterest). Unfortunately for me, my son’s puzzle was about 1/4 of an inch too big, so it didn’t fit on the cookie sheet. All that time wasted! My suggestion to your readers is to make sure the completed puzzle will fit in the cookie sheet.

  4. That’s an excellent suggestion Deborah!

  5. Chalkboard or dry erase paint could also make it fun.

  6. Christy says:

    Way cool. Now car trips won’t be “mama the movie’s over” struggle to get another dvd in before little bit starts screaming. Thanks.

  7. I have found magnet sets of Disney Cars & my now 3 yo son has been playing with those for a yr now when we take our trips. We’ve traveled a ton all his life. He lives playing with his Cars magnets on the road & at home. I got Cars for my son & Disney Princesses for my daughter. I got them from Target out of their dollar bins around school supply shopping time.

  8. @Karen – LOVE the dollar bins!! 🙂

  9. Jean Kraus says:

    How about making a checker board out of paper and putting magnets on the checkers or even chess pieces?

  10. @Jean – That’s a fabulous idea! Mine don’t play checkers yet, but that’s a great way to make this last into older ages!

  11. I am going to use white board contact paper for the bottom to create a whiteboard surface

  12. @Kara – I love that idea! Brilliant!

  13. Love these ideas…try water bottle caps with magnetic tape for the Bingo game. They can stick on the sides until ready to use! Bottle caps are sooo useful in sooo many ways! I have also thought of spray painting the cookie sheets in a bright pretty color and sealing the with polyurethane!

  14. We took some sandpaper in different textures and cut it out in various shapes then put magnets on the back. Our 4-year-old daughter uses it to build texturized sand castles!

  15. @Rae – What an awesome idea! I love it!

  16. @Debbi27 Those are awesome suggestions and bottle caps are something we certainly have plenty of around here!

  17. I love these ideas. I have 3 year old triplet boys. I’m do doing this for our trip coming up.

  18. Thanks for the fun ideas. Who knew a cookie sheet could be so fun? Pinned.

  19. We have magnetic gears that work well – they can make interconnecting gears and spin them. Also can use strips of magnets to create a maze – kids can use a bag of pompoms and try to move them through the maze by flicking with a finger – you can get a big bag cheaply so dropping one (or 10) isn’t a big deal. Or use those cars with the magnets on the bottom. Siblings can make mazes for each other and have races.

  20. Marjorie says:

    Awesome ideas!!

  21. Tabitha Hidalgo says:

    Great in concept-but my five and three year old quickly turned them into drums. :/ Nope not gonna happen lol.

  22. @Tabitha – LOL! So sorry 🙂

    There have been times I have rued the day when I put the cookie sheets in the car – kids banging into them, them falling onto a parking lot…But in general they have been great!

  23. Awesome idea!!!

  24. LOVE this!

  25. This is excellent! What a good space saver and there are so many options. Saving this for later!
    We do a lot of driving with our kids and I’m slowly gathering sanity saving tips.
    Our blog is about family drives, loving history, and finding a story in everyday places.

  26. I got a cookie sheet, the small dry erase board and chalk board from the Dollar Tree. The dry erase and chalk board fit on the back of the cookie sheet, I will be gluing them to the back. So they can have their fun on the cookie sheet or they can flip it over and draw with dry erase or chalk on the other sides. All in one place. less digging or falling in between the door and seat or in between the abyss of between car seats and the seat.

  27. @Nikki – That’s an awesome idea! Way to go!

  28. Shannon says:

    I hot glued felt onto the back, and then cut out felt “monster” shapes, so my 3 year old could make monsters, and then used the contact paper on the top to make a dry erase surface for him to draw. We had a long trip, so I divided the trip up into sections, and for each section, I pulled out a bag with the stuff for a specific project. (dry -erase markers, monster shapes, magnet sets, coloring books and crayons, etc.)

  29. @Shannon – That’s such a cute idea!

  30. You could make a tic tac toe section. I am sure sharpie would work on that. You could make different cookie sheets. One could be used for tic tac toe. One could be used for laminite games and use magnets as game pieces. You could set up a game. Put every letter from the alphabet on there with a permenant marker. Then your kids find something that starts with each letter. I am 10 years old and going to yellowstone this summer.

  31. @Ella – Awesome ideas! Have a great trip to Yellowstone!

  32. Stephanie says:

    For the bingo cards, or ANY type of cards thayight need to be written on and erased, put magnets on the page protector. Then it will stay in place but be easily removed.