One of the many things I love about summer is road trips. The ability to hop in the car and take off and explore! The challenge can be what to do with the kids on the long car rides to your destination.
Some parents may just let their children play on their hand held devices or set up the DVD player, but I feel that it is important for children to learn to entertain themselves without those devices, as it is good for their brains and imaginations. And sometimes those electronic devices break down so it is great to have things to do that don’t require all kinds of fancy equipment.
When I was little we would often take along books on tape and listen to those in the car following along in the book. One of my fondest memories is when my sister Cathy and I read the Star Wars story to our youngest sister, Leslie, without the tape and doing all the sound effects for her. Doing Darth Vader was definitely the most fun!
I often find as well that playing these games creates some wonderful interaction and quality time with your kids in a fun and easy way. Everyone is laughing and playing and a little friendly competition doesn’t hurt either.
From my experience as a child and with my own children, here are some great car games and activities to do with your children in the car. They are simple, appropriate for all ages and require little or no equipment.
The Alphabet Game –Each person needs to go through the alphabet using letters on signs. Starting at A, the first person to reach Z wins. For example if a person sees the letter A on a sign they call “A in maximum” and then move on to the letter B. This can also be done with numbers starting at 1 going up to whatever number you choose.
Counting Cows – Each person or team counts cows on the side of the road keeping a running tally. This can be quite challenging as you could pass a field that has lots of cows and since you are moving you have to count fast! If you pass a cemetery you lose all your cows and start at zero, but only if the other team calls, “your cows are buried!” This can be lots of fun as people try to create distractions so others miss cows or cemeteries.
Virtual Hide and Seek – Think of your house and pick a place to hide, imagine yourself there. This is fun as you can be any size and hide in some unique places. The other players ask questions to narrow down where you are. “Are you in the kitchen?”, “Are you in a cupboard?” etc. Kids have lots of fun “hiding” in places they normally couldn’t.
License Plates –There are a couple of games that you can play using license plates. One is to take the numbers on a license plate and see who can add them up correctly. Another is to “collect” license plates by trying to find one of each province and state. This game could last the whole trip or be played throughout the whole summer.
Word Game – Starting with the letter A, you go around and each person says a word starting with that letter. You keep going until no one can come up with a new word, then you move on to B, etc.
Going on a Picnic – This game is simple and has a trick to it that is fun for the kids to figure out. You start by saying “I’m going on a picnic and I am going to bring ….” then fill in the blank. You can bring whatever you want but you need to bring something that starts with the first letter of your name. For example, Susan can bring string, socks, skateboard, while Mary can bring marshmallows, milk, meatballs. Do not tell the ‘trick’ to the kids let them figure it out by continuing to model what you may bring.
I also find it handy to have read along stories, crayons and coloring books, an etch a sketch and magna doodle. There’s always songs to sing or listen to as well. I find that children are adaptable and easy to entertain as long as they know what to expect and have some resources/ variety available to them. Sometimes children just enjoy watching the world go by as you drive along, watching the trees whiz by and enjoying the landscape. That in itself has great value as well.
So next time you are heading down the road try out some of these games and find your favorites! Let me know too which ones you have enjoyed the most by commenting below.
Looking for more? These sites are really good resources momsminivan.com and activitiesforkids.com