On Monday, I dropped the wee ones at summer camp. For the first time ever, the two of them are heading to overnight camp by themselves, and it is two states away. Needless to say, that’s a long road trip to get them up to camp (and will be another long trip to come home again). Finding ways to keep them entertained was high on my priority list. We’ve always been into audiobooks, but for a seven plus hour drive, I needed more tricks up my sleeve.
Of course, electronics can easily be a great way to keep them occupied, so I did a little search to see if I could find some fun new apps to surprise them with. We’re huge Disney Pixar Cars movie fans, and there is a brand new Cars Daredevil Garage app. I quickly downloaded it for them to enjoy along the way, but I also don’t want them on their electronics for that long. I decided to stick with a Cars theme and got a little creative.
First up, I made my own Disney Pixar Cars bingo cards, knowing that playing car bingo on road trips was always one of my favorite activities growing up. Then I headed to Toys “R” Us to see what fun Cars inspiration I could find to take with us along the way. There I found some die cast cars that are exclusive to Toys “R” Us – Hudson Hornet, Antonio Veloce Eccellente, and Green Ramone – as well as a fun Lightning McQueen with bugs in his grille that I just couldn’t resist. There were so many fun Cars toys available, but I managed to resist buying more. At least for that one day. Die cast cars in hand, I was ready to roll.
Making the Disney Pixar Cars bingo cards wasn’t that hard. I created a free printable set of four bingo cards that I printed out and laminated. If you don’t have a laminator, you can pick up contact paper and use that or even cover the cards with strips of clear packing tape, though the dry eraser ink will get stuck in the seams with that option.
How to Play with Disney Pixar Cars Bingo Cards
Each column of the Disney Pixar Cars bingo cards has a different theme – car color, car style, vehicle type, and car trim features. Color is obviously an easy one. The wee ones pretty quickly figured out that if they focus on colors, they can pretty quickly come up with a bingo. We made the rule that when we’re doing line bingo, they couldn’t just go down that column. They either had to go horizontally, vertically down another column, or diagonally. Of course their favorite – and the way that made each game take the longest – was to play blackout where they had to find every item on the sheet.
We also set the rule that any item they wanted to mark off had to be called out and verified by someone else in the car. It’s too easy otherwise to say “Oh, look! I just saw a car with a stripe” when that wasn’t really a stripe. And, of course, every bingo had to be verified, as well – not that I have competitive children who want to win at any cost or anything….
When you find a car, you can only choose one attribute of that car to mark off. You can’t have a tiny car with two toned paint, one of which is red and the other silver, that has bumper stickers and is dirty and suddenly win the Disney Pixar Cars bingo cards game with one car. That’s where some of the strategy comes in. Will you see a newly washed car again, or was that the only military vehicle you’re going to see for the next 20 miles?
Each square has both a photo and a text description of it to help kids know exactly what they’re looking for, no matter the age. The Disney Pixar Cars bingo cards are meant to be fun for everyone. That also means you get to decide how lenient you are. Are you in an area where not many folks have an antenna ornament? No worries, expand it to be any decoration on the car whether it’s a fan spinning on the tow hitch of a car or something hanging from the rear view mirror. The same holds true for defining what a luxury car is or fancy rims.
Because the Disney Pixar Cars bingo cards are laminated, that means you have a blank space on the back side. The wee ones had a blast drawing pictures on the back side once they were finished with actually playing the game with their Disney Pixar Cars bingo cards. They also played tic tac toe with each other and hangman because they had a blank canvas. With just those quick printables, we had three hours of our drive covered.
Taking a Break on Road Trips
Seven plus hours is a long time to spend in the car, for me and the wee ones. Fortunately, there are plenty of rest stops along the way, and we took advantage of them every couple hours. We didn’t just make a quick stop and run to the bathroom. Instead, we made sure to get the wiggles out and relieve some of the monotony of spending time in the car.
We’re lucky that along our way there tend to be great rest stops that have playgrounds at the rest stops. The wee ones can feel like they’re getting to do something special by playing, almost like they were getting away with something.
We also broke out the die cast Cars vehicles for the rest stops. At a couple rest stops, the playgrounds were fairly small and designed for really small kids. Though the wee ones had fun for a few minutes just going down the short slide, they quickly figured out that they could use the Cars toys to race down the slides. They made up all sorts of games, and the twisty slide was their favorite. The cars would start to go up the sides of the slide, and they loved seeing which one would go the furthest.
This was a great way to burn off some steam and get them ready for spending more time in the car. Even if your rest stop doesn’t have a playground, most have some sort of open space, whether it’s a picnic table they can race on or down the sidewalk. The five or ten minutes you spend playing are well worth refreshing everyone mentally and physically to make the trip less stressful.
How to Use the Cars Daredevil Garage App
The free Cars Daredevil Garage app is available on the Apple iTunes store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It’s optimized for iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus. That said, there are a ton of in-app purchases, so make sure you have your settings properly set up on your device so that you don’t end up with an unexpected bill. You can purchase additional locations to race as well as over 160 cars.
One of the coolest parts is that you can scan your own Cars die cast vehicles into the game and immediately unlock them. This supports all the cars that are part of the World Grand Prix, Piston Cup, Radiator Springs, Ye Left Turn Inn, Tuners, Lost and Found, Airport Adventure, Race Fans, Pit Crew, Dinoco, Tokyo Party, Palace Chaos, Ice Racers, Neon Racers, and Silver Racers series. Essentially, if your car’s packaging has the free download label on the packaging, you’re good to go.
To download the cars into the game, tap the camera at the top left of the game. Allow the app to access your camera and ensure your car is sitting on a light colored background. Hold your device directly above the car, and magically it will be in the game and available to race. The wee ones thought that was so cool – and yes, the sidewalk at the rest stop was the perfect background for this.
The game itself is fun and can be played by really young kids. Once you open the app and choose the car you’re going to race, you simply follow the instructions on the screen.
A green circle with a lightning bolt is your signal to start the race and also throughout the race to gain a turbo boost that will allow you to do some amazing tricks.
When you’re airborne, you can flip or spin to the right or left. Some spaces allow you to do just one trick while others allow you to do up to three in a row before landing. Simply choose your trick when the button pop onto your screen and watch your car twist and turn.
The most tricks you do, the more stars you earn. As you earn stars, you also begin to earn “points” measured in a bar towards unlocking more cars in the app. Not all cars can be unlocked in this way – you do have to purchase some – but it’s a blast when you’ve earned enough to select a mystery package and “unwrap” it to discover what new racer you have available. The new racers unlock quickly at the start, with more effort and time required before unlocking each subsequent racer.
After each race run, you have the option to go to the home screen and choose a new racer, either one you’ve already unlocked or by purchasing a new one.