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Have Fun

Here are a few ways to keep your kids happy - and you, sane - on trips in the car. Whether your trip is long or short, these games are sure to provide the kids in your family with plenty of brain-stimulating fun along the road.

Games for little kids

Games for big kids

Car fun facts & trivia

For parents

Car Games for Little Kids

I Spy

What players will need: Ability to look around and match what you see with a description.

WLength of time: Ten to 20 minutes.

WRules of the game: Take turns picking an object either in the car or along the road. Then give others a clue such as, "I spy with my little eye... something big and red." Give more clues until someone guesses what it is.

I'm Thinking of an Animal

What players will need: An ability to piece together clues and make good guesses.

Length of time: Five to 30 minutes.

Rules of the game: One player thinks of an animal. The other tries to guess which animal it is by asking no more than ten "yes" or "no" questions. If he guesses correctly in ten questions or fewer, he gets to think of the next animal. If not, the first player reveals the answer and then thinks of another animal. No one really wins, and the game is over when the children don't want to play anymore.

Other ways to play it: If you're playing with your child, you might not want to put a limit on the number of questions he can ask. Instead, think of it as a way to teach him about an interesting subject. Also, when choosing an animal, consider the age of the child. An older player may know all there is to know about easy-to-guess animals, such as cats and dogs, and enjoy the challenge of harder choices, like egrets and yaks. But most 3- and 4-year-olds will recognize only the most basic creatures, such as lions, tigers, and bears.

Name That Tune

What players will need: Patience and a basic ability to sing in tune.

Length of time: Five minutes to forever

Rules of the game: Here's a game that's great for those who like to sing or hum a tune. One player thinks of a song that everybody knows and hums its first few notes. (Hint: Your child might not recognize top-40 pop songs yet, but chances are he can recognize "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Baby Beluga.") The other players try to guess the name of the song. If they can't guess, the first player keeps humming more notes in the song until someone comes up with the right answer. There are no winners or losers in this game; it ends when everyone gets tired of it.

Rainbow Game

What players will need: Knowledge of basic colors.

Length of time: Five to 15 minutes.

Rules of the game: Call out a color and each person has to find something that color. For example, when you call out green, one person might point out grass, another a green car. It gets harder when you get to purple and pink.

Tall Tales

What players will need: A good imagination.

Length of time: Five to 30 minutes.

Rules of the game: The rules are fairly simple: One person starts telling a story. She talks for about a minute and stops when she reaches an exciting moment. Then another person picks up where she left off. The game continues in this manner, with the tale twisting and turning with each new speaker. If a large group is playing, the last person to have a turn finishes the story. With a small number of children, the game is over when one player decides to give the story an ending.


Car Games/Ideas for Bigger Kids

Give your kids an allowance for the day

Tell them that this money is for snacks, treats, souvenirs etc... but when it is gone, that is all there is. Help them learn to budget their money and make good choices.

Let your children have a map.

Give your kids an opportunity to have their own copy of a map of where you are going. Show them how far you have come, how much further there is to go and let them mark it with a crayon. Every time they ask "How much further?” have them take out their map and see for themselves. You might also like to get a compass and show them how it works along with the map. You can buy wall maps, travel maps and travel guides, or for more fun, you can also print driving directions with a map when you click "get directions" at any mapping website such as Mapquest. If you are going to be traveling across several states, try a Kids Road Atlas.

MAKE a "map" of where you are going.

Draw your own map that has the major stops and cities, and a nice happy drawing for your final destination. Throw in a few simple drawings of landmarks you'll see along the way, such as a big bridge you'll or a mountain tunnel. A home made map is easy for kids to follow and gives them a clearer picture of how much further there is to go. If your kids are old enough and it's a trip that you take frequently, have the kids make their own map!

Mystery Writing

One child holds out his hand and closes his eyes while the other child "writes" on his hand with her finger. The first child has to guess what the second person is writing. Start with just letters, and if it gets too easy, play with two or three letter words, pausing between letters. There's no winner or loser with this game. It can just go on continuously!

The License Plate Game

Print a U.S. map off the computer and color in the states as you see license plates from each one. See if you can get all 50 states between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You might even record the time and date and the state where you saw it. This can be a family project as you build your "collection" of license plates together. Here's a collection of printable maps you can use for this game, or a simple List of the States to check off. Check out this article on the License Plate Game.

The License Plate Acronym Game Spot a license plate and call out the letters on it. Then everyone tries to come up with a different phrase using the letters in the order they appear on the license plate as the first letter of each word. For instance KEW could be "kittens eating watermelon" or "kiss every warthog." When you can't think of any more look for another license plate.

String Figures

You just need a string or a piece of yarn for this one. See if you can make "Jacob's Ladder", "Kitty Whiskers", "Cup and Saucer", or play Cats Cradle! Here's a list of websites that have instructions and illustrations of all the old favorite string figures.

Play Cards

Teach your kids to play "Old Maid" or "Go Fish" or Crazy 8s. Click here to Print the Rules for just about every card game you can think of, and bring them with you to learn some new games.

Tell Jokes

Take turns telling silly jokes like knock-knock jokes or riddles. This is especially fun when the kids use their creativity to make up their own jokes. Even a two-year-old can tell jokes! They may not make sense, but they sure are hilarious. If you need help getting started, good joke book for kids like these:

Car Travel Bingo

Try creating your own car bingo by writing words or simple pictures of roadside items or road signs. Here are some ready made printable car bingo game posted at the Moms Minivan Printables page.

Plan a Stop Somewhere Wacky and Fun

Give them a road trip they'll really remember by stopping at some of those wonderful touristy places. The New Roadside America book is a funny guide to the wonderful world of some of the strangest and wackiest tourist attractions you'll ever find, and they also have a website. Eccentric America is another fun guidebook that profiles hundreds of fringe attractions and quirky events across the country.

Counting Cows

Count the cows you see on your side of the car. If you pass a field full of lots of cows, you'd better count fast! If you pass a cemetery on your side of the car, you lose all your cows, but only if the opposing team calls "your cows are buried!" This game gets interesting when distraction tactics are used to either cause your opponent to miss cows on their side of the road or to miss a cemetery on your side of the road. A white horse can count as a bonus. The team with the most cows wins. Here's an article about counting cows with some scoring ideas and cow jokes to tell while you play.

Scavenger Hunt

Give each child a list of items to watch for while driving. The list can be made up ahead of time and adjusted for the scenery. Here's a sample printable list of items to hunt for!

Sources: Top

Car Fun Facts & Trivia


For Parents

Road-Trip Survival Tips for Parents: