As I've mentioned, we are going on a road trip to Durango, Colorado next week. I have been slowly gathering things for the 12+ hour drive for the last few months. When I sat down to think of things to have to help keep the kids entertained, I came across this page describing a jar of pipe cleaners she gave to her kids to help teach them about the science of magnets.
I took it a step farther.
First I found a nice plastic container. Now in my family, we eat nuts like there's no tomorrow. It's not unheard of for me to buy 8-10 of them when there's a good sale. So when we empty one, I take the labels off and stash them in my craft closet. They're really handy for all sorts of stuff.
So I have 2 Planters peanut jars, next I went and found a variety of metallic items. I let the boys pick 3 colors of pipe cleaners, and cut them into small bits like the example above. Then I found other magnetic things, like paper clips, bobby pins, spare screws and nuts, and a few other miscellaneous items.
Once I added all the items, I hot-glued the lid on so we wouldn't have bits all over the car floor. Next, I hot-glued a magnet to a large Popsicle stick so the kids can move things around and see how it affects the contents of the jar. Here is a photo of my son making the items crawl up the side of the jar.
And across the bottom.
As it gets closer, I get more and more excited and less concerned about how the boys will do. Vacations are supposed to be fun and as long as you expect some rough patches and plan accordingly (with frequent stops and distractions), it'll work out fine!