When you move from a 2300 sq ft house into a couple of hundred square feet on wheels, there are a LOT of adjustments for everyone in the family- especially the kids who, depending on their age may not understand why they cannot fit their swing set into the rig.
We traveled in an RV for over five years now and we found these to be some of the the best gift ideas for kids who live in a small space!
We were quite nervous when it came to getting rid of a lot of the kids’ toys…….and a little happy. Well, the kids had an entire room full of toys (how is that even possible), yet they would always go back to their favorites. We sold a LOT of toys, and in fairness, the kids were very good about it.
We originally bought a small travel trailer so only a few toys were allowed, shortly after that we upgraded to a fifth wheel after realizing the travel trailer was just too small for our needs. In hindsight we could have brought a few more toys with us, however, the toys that we did bring the kids still play with after years on the road.
They tended to be the same toys they focused on in the house. Smaller toys with a big bang in the area of imagination and creativity. When looking at camping gifts, you want to focus on items that add an educational factor when possible.
Here is a list of the best gift ideas for kids who live in a tiny space:
Our son got these for Christmas when he was 4 and he still loves them today. They are magnetic = easy to keep tidy and inspire hours of play time for the kids. The pieces themselves are really strong, sturdy, good sized, and have strong enough magnets to build easily, but to take apart pretty easily too.
The kids have made some really awesome things with these, my son loved using the wheels to make some really cool vehicles. Their favorite thing to build is a garage for their cars, this can occupy them for up to 30 minutes, AND they play nicely together. A toy that keeps going after 5 years, yup, I’m a fan!
I don’t think there is a parent out there that doesn’t love lego. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Yes, it can be a little messy in an RV, thankfully we have a bunkhouse so we can close the door when the lego starts taking over. Again the kids will spend hours building forts, garages, space vehicles, you name it.
We keep adding onto their lego so they can build more and more. Each time they get a new set, it will finally end up pieces in the big lego bin. We bought a storage box with wheels to keep the lego in, it stays under the bench and can be pulled in and out as needed.
If it’s a rainy day and we need to get some work done, Lego keeps them occupied so we can get some work done. Lego is possibly the best thing ever!
Coloring Books and Gel Pens
Our kids are very active, so it’s nice to have something where they can settle down and relax their minds and bodies for a while and just draw. They have coloring books designed for both boys and girls, with beautifully illustrated pages of various animals, vehicles, ice skaters etc.
The kids get into a zone and end up coloring for at least an hour – that’s a win for us. As the kids got older, we replaced the old crayons with a giant box of gel pens for the kids to draw with, as well as some refills. These have lasted really well, we put them in a pencil zip bag and keep them in the arts and crafts box.
The coloring books are getting more intricate, and that gives the kiddos more time coloring.
Outdoor Adventure Book for Boys and Girls
We love these types of gifts at our house, our son is at that age where he’s all boy. This book gets him outdoors where he can use his creativity and start doing things for himself. Actually, our daughter loves this book too, as well as the girls one. These books are perfect for young outdoor adventurers.
It teaches them the basics of outdoor survival in a really fun and engaging way. It has chapters where he learns about insects, bike safety, secret codes, using a compass, how to make a periscope, how to catch fish.
The girls’ outdoor adventure book teaches her how to predict the weather, how to make a swing, how to make imaginative musical instruments. These books come out with us on car rides too.
I was shocked at how well received this kit was, I’m not sure why because what kid doesn’t love getting messy and playing with experiments. Both kids LOVED this kit, it includes several fun experiments, that the kids will actually learn from.
Yes it gets messy, yes you should do it outside and yes everyone has so much fun. There are 20 pieces included in the kit, test tubes, cotton swabs, plastic measuring cups, pipette, 2 sticks, and an activity guide. This is for kids 6 and up.
Adult supervision is required but you will have a blast too.
Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad
My son is a budding artist so I am always on the lookout for toys where he can focus on his creativity. This pad does all of that. It comes with music and sports-themed tracing sheets, as well as coloring pencils and some blank sheets.
The templates come in layers, which helps my son to slow down and trace each part separately. I am NOT an artist, so this tracing pad helps both kids to improve their drawing skills. We use it in homeschool for art class, I highly recommend it. It’s a great toy for a rainy day too.
Magic Treehouse Chapter Books
Thankfully a friend recommended these books to me and gave us a set for the kids. The kids LOVED them immediately and couldn’t get enough of them. We had to keep buying more sets to keep up with our daughter who just ate them up.
What’s so great about these books is that they combine adventure with learning about so many different things … history, other cultures, geography, animals, and so on. Even now, the kids go back and forth between these books even though they’ve read them several times over.
We found a used bookstore near Washington DC of all places and they bought a bunch of these books for 25 cents!
Wild Kratts DVD Collection
We came across the Wild Kratts collection when we still lived in a house and the kids loved them. We purchased all of the DVD’s so that the kids could watch them on the road while we travel. Chris and Martin take the kids on a new adventure where they learn all about the different animals.
They tend to watch them over and over so their knowledge of animals is pretty awesome. Even though my kids are 8 & 9 they still love watching these guys. I use them in homeschool sometimes, it’s nice to be able to put a video on where you know there aren’t any bad villains that you need to be worried about.
So there you have it, this is our list of the best gift ideas for kids living in a tiny space. Do you have any items that your kids simply cannot do without while you’re traveling on the road? We’d love to hear about them.
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Grainne Foley grew up in Ireland and spent summers caravanning around Europe with her family. Now, as a wife and mother of 2, she spent 5 years traveling the USA as a full time RVing family. She is passionate about travel, and helping others who are considering the RV lifestyle. She has created dozens of helpful RVing checklists which are available throughout the website, and has curated hundreds of simple, flavorful meals for families on the go.