“When will we get there?” A visual to help…

by Laura on April 17, 2013

We all know that there are at least two things that seem inevitable on a road trip with kids:

Kids will wonder and ask (a lot) how much longer a car ride will be.

Arguments will happen between siblings.


And of course, as parents, we are left trying to keep the peace, discipline if necessary, and reassure that we will be there soon.  However there is a slight problem regarding the length of a trip…with younger kids, hours really don’t mean anything.  They need something less abstract and something visual to understand the passage of time.

I tried this idea out a few weeks ago and it went really well!


How it worked:

1.  Each paperclip stood for an increment of time.  Since we had quite a long drive ahead of us, I put up 7 paperclips, one for each hour of our trip that day.

2.  As we drove, I would move a paperclip to the left of the car, and slide the car along the wire.

3.  Each paperclip on the car had a different marker color on it.  These were the behavior clips!  Each color stood for a different child.  As long as their clip was on top of the car, they would have all the privileges in the car (certain games, toys, etc) or would be able to get a treat at the next stop.  Sometimes the kids would know they were working towards something, sometimes they would be surprised.  I was amazed how well it worked.  Moving a clip on the bottom of the car quickly became dreaded and they would work hard to get their clip back on top again.


To get started:

1.  Materials:

You need some kind of a string, or thin wire.  I used craft wire as it is coated, holds it shape better than string, and I could easily twist the ends together.

Something to mark the passage of time.  Mini clothespins work well for this, but you could also use paper clips.  You will need one additional clothespin per child for the behavior clips.  An additional idea is to put small printouts of faces on the clips, but I didn’t want to take the time to do that.

Image of your car, printed on cardstock.  I found mine on Wikipedia!

2.  Make two small slits in the cardstock car so that the wire can be weaved through it.  Secure the wire around the passenger mirror and tighten as much as you can.


3.  I also keep a ziploc bag in the glove compartment where I can put extra clothespins.


And viola!  There you go….an easy system to help with behavior in the car and the “When do we get there?” questions.  Happy travels!



Have you used any type of time management or behavior system in the car?  How did it work for you?


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Woodruff April 18, 2013 at 7:04 am

This is a great idea! Now my mind is thinking about how to make this into a file folder type of activity so I can take it on the plane. I’ll get back to you on this one.


Laura April 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Thanks Heather! That is a good idea to make it a file folder activity for the plane. I look forward to hearing about it.


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