Summer means much needed family vacations, weekends at the beach, and long road trips! Long road trips sound fun, but if you’re a parent, your current understanding of “road trip” is probably very different from what you envisioned in your college days! Road trips with children can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be that way! The long car ride can be part of the joy when you include fun games to play in the car with kids!
I know this firsthand! As a woman who loves America and God’s creation, I want my children to know our country and God’s people. This means we drive and camp – a lot and far! As a mom of five boys who don’t like being cooped up for long road trips, I sometimes wish we could do it all from our backyard!
You would be amazed at things that threaten your sanity as you driving your way from New York to Yellowstone with a carload of boys! To keep our sanity, we’ve come up with some fun games to play in the car with kids of all ages. Here are a few of our favorites!
5 Fun Games to Play in the Car with Kids:
- Spot the State – Give each child a blank, outlined map of the United States and have him look for vehicles from each state. As he finds a car with the state’s license plate, he should color the state on the map. This can be done so children compete against one another, against adults, or against days of the week to see on which day they saw the most states.
- State Your Poem – This is another fun license plate game to play with kids in the car! As cars pass, use the letters in their license plates to make acronyms. For example, if a car with the license plate 246AHB drives by, one child might say, “All hounds bark.” Another might say, “Allison hunts bears.” It doesn’t have to make sense of be true. In fact, the funnier “poems” tend to be totally ridiculous! This works well with competitive kids because each can make different sayings about the same license plate, which means no losers! 🙂
- The Alphabet Game – Quite simply, this is a fun game to play in the car where you hunt for letters of the alphabet in order from A to Z. The hunt can be done individually, in teams, or as an entire car. Teamwork builds when all are looking for the “Q” together, and finally stopping for pizza after finding that elusive “Z,” can be a relief to everyone! You can also adapt the difficulty level of this fun car game by placing restrictions on participants. You may say letters must be uppercase, on license plates, not on moving vehicles, or similar things. Have children come up with ideas that probably wouldn’t work. For example, playing The Alphabet Game using only letters at the start of words may produce a lot of frustration.
- Count the Cars – This fun game to play in the car uses powers of prediction. In this game, everyone picks a color or type of car and points it out as that car is seen. Records are kept to see who has seen the most over a set period of time. Shorter games with many repeats are sometimes better than long games. This is especially true for little children. You can up the ante by giving the winner a small prize. Make this game more fun by giving each participant a special tongue twister word to call out when her car is seen. Sometimes the excitement of seeing your car in combination with the tongue twister produces hilarious results!
- Scavenger Hunts – Any scavenger hunt is stimulating, but a bit of research before you go is more than just fun! It helps prepare your child for what they will see. My parents did this, and 30 years later, I still remember it. We took a trip west as a teenager and I remember wondering what Coors was and searching everywhere for Beavercliff Hall! In those days Coors was not distributed west of the Mississippi River so we East Coast kids had never seen nor heard of it. I remember not seeing a building called Beavercliff Hall anywhere. Later, we were told it was the name of a ship on the Great Lakes. We learned to think out of the box a bit after that! Help your kids do the same!
Many things can be done that aren’t exactly fun games to play in the car but that don’t involve sticking your kid in front of a DVD on a long road trip either. Things like white boards, paper bags with eye and arm holes cut out, stickers, and precut paper dolls (remember those? 🙂 ) can all help entertain kids in the car. Toddlers and infants also have special travel needs that need to be addressed. I hope you follow StrahlenGrace.com to check out my future posts.
In the meantime, remember road trips with kids can be challenging for even the most well-behaved children and the most patient parents, but they don’t have to be! Don’t wait until you arrive at your destination to start your family vacation. Discover fun games to play in the car with your kids and start vacationing right out of your driveway!
Want more ideas on spending time rather than money with your children? Check out this post.
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