Road trips can be hectic when you have a back seat full of children if you don’t plan ahead to keep them entertained and occupied. Put together a variety of games the kids can play in the car so that you can arrive at your destination without going crazy. Making the car time fun and enjoyable will lead to lifelong memories that your children will hold onto throughout life.
Supply each of your kids with a personal video game and headphones to keep them entertained when others are sleeping or when they aren’t getting along the greatest. Personal hand-held game systems, such as Sony’s PSP or Nintendo’s DS, can give each child something to do. Supply a few different games the kids can take turns playing. Hand-held electronic versions of classic games, such as card games or hangman, can be played individually or together.
Interactive games the whole family can play are ideal if you children of varying ages. Tailor the game to the levels of the players involved. I spy is a game even young children can play as the chosen person picks something she can see. For example, if she chooses a stop sign, she might say “I spy with my little eyes something red” and the others must guess what she sees. Whoever guesses what she sees gets to be “it” for the next round.
Counting games, such as counting cows or counting red cars, can keep everyone occupied as well. Make rules, such as a particular starting and ending point or that you can only count those on your side of the car. The game can start over after so many miles, every day or whenever you want it to.
Conduct a scavenger hunt by giving each child a list of street signs or things to look for. As they see the item, they call it out and check it off of their box. If your children have cameras or camera phones, encourage them to take pictures so you can verify and tally each list at the end of the day or when you reach your final destination.
Games can be fun and educational at the same time. For example, play 20 questions with topics on geography or history, particularly if the subjects relate to your trip. Each person in the car can ask a question–up to 20 questions total–that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” until someone can guess who or what the object or person is. For example, if the chosen person is George Washington–which works for a trip to Washington D.C.–you’d answer “yes” if you were asked “is it a person,” “was he famous” or “was he a president?” You’d answer “no” to questions such as “is he living” or “is the person a female?” Use simple things or people if you have younger children playing.
Use a dictionary to play “fictionary” with older kids. The chosen person should find a word that isn’t well-known and say and then spell his chosen word. Each player should write what he believes the definition to be on a slip of paper with his initials and hand it to the chooser. The chooser should also write out the definition. The chooser must read each definition and allow the players to guess which definition is correct. Whoever guesses the most correction definitions wins.
Classic car games can include travel bingo, magnetized checkers, magnetized tic-tac-toe and rock-paper-scissors. Bring a deck of cards, and let the kids play Go Fish.
Play games with license plates, such as who can find the most states. Or make it a math game by adding up the numbers on a plate to reach a predetermined number, such as 21. Another license plate game is to make sayings or phrases out of the letters on the plate. For example, “K85J8F” could become “keeping jewelry fine” or “kites just fly.”
Play alphabet games by starting with an “A” word seen on a sign, such as “Adam’s General Store,” then a “B” word and so on. Try to get through the entire alphabet. Another alphabet game is to choose a topic, such as geography, and have the first person name a place that begins with “A,” such as “Arkansas.” The next person must name another place that begins with the last letter of the previous place, which would be “S.”
Use the time in the car to get to know each other better. Play games, such as two truths and a lie, where each person has to reveal two real secrets and one false secret about themselves, and let the others guess which revelation is false.
Encourage your kids to take pictures, and keep a journal during your travel. They should include noting the places you drive through and anything that stands out. For example, they could document how mom and dad were horse-playing near the lake and mom fell in. Although it might not have seemed so funny to mom at the time, the whole family will likely laugh at the memory when the road trip is long over. This isn’t a game, but it is a great way for your children to document the trip and create a keepsake that can last the rest of their lives.
- Familiarize Your Kid with seatbelts image by Maciej Zatonski from Fotolia.com