I had the opportunity recently to make a couple of travel binders for what was to be a very long road trip (25+ hours) for two younger children and a pretty short one (2+) for another. While they didn't turn out as nicely as I envisioned, they are sure to serve their purpose. Part of the problem is that I used items I already had on hand, which happened to be some very cheap 2" 3-ring binders. I think the next time I make them, I am going to find bigger ones that are a lot more sturdy.
I made some a few years ago when my children were about 9 and 11 and I used some flexible plastic 3-ring binders that I purchased at Target for a great price. We color code everything, so each child had their specific color binder and pencil case (which held colored pencils, toothpicks for games, small pencil sharpener, glue stick, scissors, string, etc). Because it was the flexible type binder, rather than the hard cover with spine, we could pretty much put as many pages in it as we wanted. It was stuffed to the gills with printables such as travel bingo, word searches, dot game, hidden pictures, drawing paper, and a lot of other printable travel games. It kept my children occupied for hours.
These, however, were made for two pre-schoolers and a 2nd grader so they were a bit different. I had some magnet paint that was begging to be used for a project, so I painted the inside cover of each binder with 2 coats and when that dried, I sprayed chalkboard paint over that which created a magnetic chalkboard. I was very excited that it actually worked!
The magnets are some I had in storage from when my older children were in kindergarten. They work like a charm. I tried some with just a small round magnet on the back, but they didn't hold very well. From experimenting, I've found that the larger the actual magnet and the lighter the object, the better they work. Magna Doodle magnets stick great as well.
I needed an eraser and preferred one that wouldn't get dropped on the floor repeatedly so I sewed a piece of ribbon to a pom pom and tied it around the binder ring. I'm sure there is a classier way of doing it, but I was pressed for time and this is soft enough not to scratch the paint off of the thin plastic surface.
I also tried the magnetic paint on the back of some paper dolls that I made, but for some reason, the paint wouldn't magnetize. It was several years old, but I think the problem was more in the fact that I didn't stir it well enough. I was bummed though because the girls would have been able to color each piece that I cut out and then play with the paper dolls on the magnet board. Oh well...there's always time to experiment for next time!
One of the things I added to the pre-school binder was "Match the Shapes". I just took random things from around the house and traced them onto paper and then put the items in a storage bag that slides open/closed for easy access for my 3 1/2 year old. Because I didn't have any pencil cases, I just reinforced the bottom of the storage bag and then punched holes in the bottom with a 3-hole punch.
I printed templates out from different websites and cut them out of scrapbooking paper. I then glued them onto cardboard (I actually used cereal boxes) with Mod Podge (I LOVE Mod Podge!) and used my crafting hole punch to make holes all around. You can use shoe strings if you have extra, but I didn't so I used yarn with a bit of tape on the end to act as an aglet. These are just a couple of the ones that I made. I also made a butterfly, flower, and a star.
I printed out some coloring pages & worksheets and then added some blank pages for doodling. One of the storage bags includes stickers and post-it notes, crayons, chalk, and a mechanical pencil, as well as a smaller bag with magnetic shapes.
The ideas are endless and can be altered to suit the age level & interest of each child!
Here are a few of the sites that I use for my printables:
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html (You CAN pay $20 for a yearly subscription which allows site members to have access to a banner-ad-free version of the site with print-friendly pages, but you don't have to.)
All 3 of these sites have a wide variety of printables!
We're planning on using our binder tomorrow on our way to the Bob Evan's Farm Festival. Mr. B can't wait!