Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

COMMENTS: 7

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

When stories aren’t enough, you need some activities in the back seat to keep little hands (and minds) busy. But too much time looking down (be it at a screen or a coloring book) can challenge even the toughest tummy.

We came up with a way to make (halloween-themed) window clings that could be used on the windows at home—and in the car!

Hudson was very curious about what people in passing cars thought of his creation. “What she say to my pumpkin?” he’d ask! 

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

You’ll Need: 

  • Contact paperfamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
  • Sharpiefamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
  • Acrylic paintfamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
  • Paint brushesfamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings (and/or stamps, sponges, Q-tips… finger-tips)
  • Scissors
  • A surface for painting on, and some water/paper towels for clean-up.
  • Parchment or Wax paper (optional) to store your clings.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

The key to this project is contact paper! Contact paper goes on and off glass easily, and can be used over and over again as long as you keep it clean. You can paint it, place stickers on it, or color it with indelible markers (like sharpies).  It’s incredibly versatile and easy to find. Once you have a roll in your home, you can make your own window clings—essentially reusable stickers—for any season.

How-to: 

1. Outline your images. You can free draw directly on the surface (non-sticky side) of the Contact Paper, but I find it easiest to outline images on the backing and then paint or color them in on the surface. In our case, I drew some pumpkins and spooky facial features (à la Mr. Potato Head) as well as some general monster shapes.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

2. Paint (or color) the surface. Flip over the contact paper and use your outlines to guide you. Hudson filled in the pumpkins and the monsters, but I painted all of the features and accessories for the pumpkins for him to play with later. (He’s only three, so his art tends toward the more abstract.)

Older kids can do all of this themselves and may even prefer to use markers to color the images (it’s a faster process), but washable and non-toxic acrylic paint is preferable for most little kids.

The less paint you use, the more light will shine through and the faster the paint will dry. However, if you are going to decorate a pumpkin, like Hudson did, the face will show up best on a more solidly painted surface.

Note: Don’t worry if the color doesn’t follow the lines exactly. Because you will be cutting the shapes out with scissors, you can either cut along the lines or correct then.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

3. Allow for drying time. Acrylic paint, if not too thick, dries pretty quickly—within maybe an hour or so.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

4. Cut out your shapes.  In addition to the pumpkins and features for decorating them, I also cut the monsters Hudson painted into three pieces each—to be mixed up and recombined like a puzzle. (I drew the faces on with a pen, after the paint had dried.)

You can cut your shapes and apply them directly to a glass surface, or you can save them on wax or parchment paper for later. We stored ours in a shoebox, for bringing along on car rides.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

5. Have fun! These are very easy to make, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Just keep in mind: for the image to be clear from both sides of the window, you’ll want to create something with a single layer. In the case of our car activity, because the face is stuck on top of the pumpkin, it will only be visible inside the car whereas only the pumpkin will be visible outside of the car.

Such a simple way to keep kids entertained—and looking out the window—in the backseat!

What are your favorite activities for road trips?

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

This content was created in partnership with Ford to help make creativity a part of every drive.

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Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book

COMMENTS: 14

family  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book

A while back, I asked my pediatrician, in almost embarrassing earnestness: “so what did you do on car trips with kids before iPads and iPhones?” My family played games and sang songs, but other than practically reciting the entire Odyssey for my dad (something he generously endured on a trip to Mammoth when I was a senior in high school), I can’t remember how our long drives passed.

She said she was a big fan of audio books.

Davis is a small town, but the driving to and from school every day adds up. I keep a box for the toys and books that accumulate beside Hudson’s chair, but he usually spends the time peppering me with questions.

Most days I look forward to hearing about what he sees and what he did at school—letting some stories grow elaborate: “A whale? Oh! What does a whale’s breath smell like? Like fish? Is that stinky?” The longer I can hold off the strings of “why?” and “what’re you doing, mommy?” (a sure cue that he’s bored) the better.

But every other day or so he still asks me to read him a book. “I can’t while I’m driving, buddy!” I reply.

So I thought back to that conversation with my pediatrician.

family  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book

Have you ever used audio books with your kids in the car? They’re a wonderful antidote to screen time. We played The Further Tale of Peter Rabbitfamily  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book , written and read by none other than the lovely Emma Thompson alongside a stirring soundtrack evocative of the Scottish highlands—when we were driving along the coast of Italy (bag pipes being so fitting). We still quote it to one another in our best brogue: “Throw the radish!”

If Emma Thompson can do it, why can’t I? (Don’t answer that.)

So the other night, while we were reading together, I recorded myself.

family  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book

Right now, Hudson is a loyal fan of Julia Donaldson’s books—and so I am I! (Thank goodness.) The Gruffalofamily  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book , Room on the Broomfamily  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book , and even The Gruffalo’s Childfamily  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book are in regular rotation—they’re perfect for this time of year! (And the stories are so clever and engaging that I actually haven’t tired of reading them yet!)

The Gruffalo is particularly good for reading aloud—there are lots of repeating phrases that kids will love to say with you. And the pattern motif lets kids practice predicting what will happen next based upon what happened previously. However, Hudson knows it almost by heart.

family  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book

The advantage to making your own (besides that you can do it in an instant, for free) is that you can leave pauses for call-and-repsonse:

“A gruffalo? What’s a gruffalo?” “A gruffalo! Why, didn’t you know?” 
“He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.”

becomes

“A gruffalo! Why, _[pause]______?” 
“He has terrible  [pause], and terrible  [pause], and terrible  [pause] in his terrible  [pause].”

The good and the bad? By the time we say “jaws” together, Hudson is practically shouting out the answers.

family  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book

The How-to: 

You can make an audio recording on your computer or smartphone to play in your car. There are dedicated apps for this, but the pre-installed Voice Memo function works, too.

  • Use a story you both know well, so that it’s easy to follow along with—both verbally and if your child wants to turn the pages along with the recording. (This is true when using purchased audio books, as well—especially then, when a new voice can be hard to understand at first.)
  • Speak clearly, but get into it! (You can listen to a sample for encouragement.)
  • Leave pauses for increased engagement. (And be ready to help fill in the blanks together.)
  • Be safe! Set the audio up to play while you’re still parked, or pull off to the side of the road if you need to cue up a story on your phone.

Most newer cars have integrated ways to play audio from your phone on your car speakers, but here’s a guide to alternatives (often as simple as using an RCA cable with your audio jacks).

The whole thing will take you under 10 minutes for a story like The Gruffalo or Room on the Broom! 

What are your tricks for keeping little ones entertained in the car?

family  Simple car trick: Record your own Audio Book

This content was created in partnership with Ford to help make creativity a part of every drive.

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