There are plenty of creative unplugged activities for kids to keep them occupied during long drives.

Family road tripping has changed! I remember the big deal it was when FM joined AM on the radio, but now DVDs, MP3s, video games--kids have more entertainment than ever to stave off boredom and enjoy the ride.

Still, all that electronic media can leave families disconnected. Can you honestly stomach watching "The Incredibles" one more time? There are plenty of healthy creative unplugged activities for kids which will keep them occupied during the long drive.

Consider these suggestions to create lasting memories before you even reach your destination, and re-connect with the ones you love most.

1. Pipe cleaner paradise. A pack of inexpensive pipe cleaners and a nail clipper will keep fidgety kids happy for long stretches of travel time. They can bend the fuzzy sticks or wrap them around pencils to form cheerful colorful creatures. The best part? When they're satisfied with their creation, they can play imaginative games with them for more stimulating fun.

2. Cootie catcher. Remember these things? You pick a color, then a number, and then you get to read your fortune. You only have to show your kids how to do this once before they'll be able to come up with variations and stay busy for hours!

3. Figures and games with string. Supplies required: string. They can make "Jacob's Ladder," "Kitty Whiskers," "Cup and Saucer," or play "Cat's Cradle." AND IT"S QUIET!!!

4. Go nuts with foil. Remember when shiny, reflective aluminum foil was magical to you? Give your artsy imaginative kids a cheap roll and watch them go to town! They can transform themselves into superheroes making masks and "power bracelets." Girls may especially enjoy constructing tiaras, jewelry, and headbands. And it's fun to sculpt foil into cool animals-with no cleanup!

5. Old school card games. Card games are great for traveling because a deck is easy to transport, and there are tons of games to play. Crazy Eights and Old Maid are two possible kid pleasers.

6. License plate game. Before you leave, print out a map of the U.S. so the kids can color in the states as they see license plates. They can even record the time and date they saw it.

7. Virtual hide and seek. This guessing game is a hoot! Pick a place inside your house to hide-and here's the fun part-it can be any size at all! A sock drawer, the dishwasher, the medicine cabineteverybody asks questions until they narrow it down and find you.

8. Make a wacky roadside stop. Go to the website www.roadsideamerica.com to find quirky, eccentric, touristy, places to visit. The kids will remember these nutty detours with you forever.

And they may not even miss the Wii.

Michele Ranard is a professional counselor, tutor, and freelancer with a twisted blog at www.cheekychicmama.com.