Hands-On Crafts:
Riding in Style with a Custom Car Organizer
Oftentimes cars, vans or SUVs can easily be identified as belonging to families by clever bumper stickers or window signs, the presence of car seats or Raffi blaring from the stereo. The one other dead giveaway that a vehicle transports children is the presence of kid paraphernalia strewn through the interior. Many moms and dads know that even if the car trip is just to the neighborhood grocery store, little travelers like to bring along a few provisions for the trip. From Barbie who must never travel without extra outfits and those little shoes that are always getting lost to hand held video games with extra batteries, some favorite distractions from home make any trip out more fun. Add in a stash of snacks, books, CDs and the family car looks like a disaster! Although many car manufacturers are now equipping their vehicles with ergonomic storage devices, a custom organization system will help manage the clutter and make car time more fun. Invite the kids to help design and create their very own hanging organizer for the car using an inexpensive apron.

Ages: 3 - 10

Time: 1 hour

Skills Required: cutting, gluing, painting

Materials:  cloth apron, felt, craft glue, scissors, ruler, ribbon, fabric paint or markers, beads, pom-poms.

Starting out this project with an apron seems especially appropriate since the primary purpose of an apron is to protect clothing and keep clothes clean while performing messy activities. One wouldn’t usually think of driving to day care as a messy activity, but with a busy toddler on board, watch out! In this case, the apron provides protection for your vehicle and will help keep the interior clean and clutter-free.

Inexpensive cloth aprons can be purchased at a craft store in a number of sizes and colors. Measure the size of the back of the front seat of your vehicle and choose an apron that will approximately cover this area.

After choosing an apron, the next step is to design a custom storage solution for the objects most often used and found in your car. Some aprons have pockets already in place. If you need more pockets or a pocket of a different size, they can be made out of simple felt squares. Just cut a felt square to the appropriate size and shape and glue the bottom and two sides of the felt to the apron where you would like the pocket to be. Use fabric paint or markers to label each pocket. For pre-readers, use pictures to show what will go in each pocket. Kids can help decorate their car organizer using felt cutouts, fluffy pom-poms, beads and fabric paint to add their name and other designs.

Most parents have driven down the road while trying to reach an object that their child has dropped in the back seat. To help with this problem, tie pieces of ribbon or strips of fabric to the straps of the apron and attach items that children may need to the other end. If your little Picasso likes to draw while driving around town, attach a crayon or marker to the apron. A favorite stuffed animal or doll can also be attached to the apron.

When the apron is decorated and the paint is dry, it is ready to be installed in the car. Just tie the neck straps of the apron over the headrest of the front seat and the waist straps around the back of the front seat and you are ready to go!

For a complete list of all Hands-On Crafts, click here.

Jill Jolton is associate editor of
Colorado Parent and the mother of two energetic and artistic sons.