brown-bear Labor Day Weekend: The last chance to play this summer. And with all the staycations and roadtrips planned, we’re hearing of a lot less stress over plane trips, and more stress over times in the car.

We recently sampled a few Audio Books from MacMillan Young Listeners, which are all packaged with a full-sized copy of the illustrated book and a reading by a well-known actor/actress. In our car we’re listening to and reading the beloved Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle read beautifully by Gwyneth Paltrow. We also sampled Tikki Tikki Tembo, read by Marcia Gay Holden and written by Arlene Mosel (another family favorite), a folktale telling the story of how why the Chinese have such short names.

Of course, you’ll need some games to keep the road trip moving at a fast pace. Last weekend we daytripped with a few of Rand McNally’s new Boredom Breakers games. Among the selection was our favorite: Travel Card Games, a box of 3 sets of cards–for three different games. We spent most of our trip on a scavenger hunt using I Saw it First, which has pictures of items you may see outside during your drive, and awards points to the player who sees it first. We found lots of deer and billboards and grabbed a few points for each of those. Of course, my son was certain to find aliens in a UFO, which a card would reward 1,000,000 points to find. Also in this set are games Tough Choice and 30 Second Interview. Both are interactive discussion games that help passengers pass time in interesting talks about themselves. Don’t just stop at the answer to a question (whether you’re deciding what you would rather of 2 choices in Tough Choice or answer a discussion question in 30 Second Interview) elaborate and you’re sure to not only pass time, but learn more about yourself and your passengers.

We haven’t yet played Rand McNally’s Story Starters, but it looks to be a great game. You’re provided with a CD of stories and games, as well as a guide book. Listen along to several stories, then answer questions, follow clues to solve mysteries and finish stories that are started on the CD. My kids are looking forward to this one… and so am I when we have a long trip with lots of listening time ahead of us.

Another of Rand McNally’s Boredom Busters, we designed our own bumper stickers using Magnet Message Makers. The kit comes with 2 bumper-sticker sized magnets and 5 sheets of small stickers. My boys each took one magnet and designed his own, which are now decorating my car. Making it very easy to find our SUV among the many when we pit during our trips.

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