As a traveling speech therapist I do a lot of packing, driving and unpacking. I tend to think through my day and load up my car with items that I think I will need for specific clients (S sound flashcards, verb cards, etc.). However, I almost always have my go-to “staples” in my bag that I arguably could use with every single child on my caseload. This says a lot as the age range I work with right now starts at two years and goes all the way to age nine.
While these are all great “therapy” tools, I also think these would be good “mom/dad/caregiver” tools. I would highly suggest keeping one or more of these items in your bag or car to keep your kiddo engaged during expected or unexpected wait times.
I didn’t list this, but I also have very recently started bringing my iPad to sessions. I wouldn’t say I use it all the much, but there are times when I will pull it out as a reward or for a specific activity. Let me be clear that I am not “anti” iPad in any means. I think the parent judging around devices has gotten real out of hand. I would just suggest keeping the amount of iPad time reasonable, and trying to sit and engage with your child while using a device as much as possible. My friend Sarah from Three Trees O.T. wrote a post about screen time that would be worth checking out if you are wanting more guidance on this: https://threetreesot.com/blog/
Okay, are you waiting with baited breath to see what is in my bag?
1. A small game. Right now I have the game Hiss in my bag (recent Goodwill find, but you also can get it on Amazon). Other good ones would be matching (you can make two sets out of a full sized version and divide into little baggies to make the game quicker) or a specialty deck of cards (Go Fish, Old Maid, etc). Waiting for food in a restaurant? Sibling at dance/piano/etc.? Great time for a game.
2. Stickers. I honestly have never met a kid who doesn’t like stickers. They are cheap, require fine motor and are small to pack around. You can make a drawing around a sticker (draw an ocean for fish stickers) or just let them work to peel a sheet of tiny stars…just make sure you have a place for them to go 😉 The Dollar Tree is a great place for cheap stickers.
3. A book (or 2 or 3). I would suggest having a basket of books that your child can reach for while in the car. Have them read (or pretend to read) to you! I have been reading Pigs Can’t Fly and If you Give a Moose a Muffin this week.
4. Crayons / Markers and a small notebook of paper OR a Boogie Board. So I carry around both, but I cannot tell you how OBSESSED I am with my new Boogie Board. A family showed me this last week and I immediately got one at Costco (and promptly locked my keys in my trunk…it was a fun day). It is a drawing board (kind of like a futuristic Etch-a-Sketch) that you can “mark” on and then “erase” when you touch the clear button. So far all of my kids have loved it. Obviously you can play games (Hangman, tic-tac-toe, Pictionary) or just let your child draw. I also suggest pen and a notebook (or the Boogie Board) for making schedules on the fly if your child has a hard time transitioning, or you need to get them through a list of non-preferred tasks (grocery store, gas and then home).
What are you go-tos when out and about with your child? I would love to hear!