If you have ever been on a road trip with children, no matter how long or short the duration of the journey, you have experienced the boredom blues children exhibit when they travel. To stave off a few of those “Are we there yet ? “, “How far is it now?”, “I’m bored.” commments, here are five games you can play with children or even have them play with each other. These are easy games that encourage interaction, observation or memory and get them away from electronic gadgets, to enjoy each others company.
Provide each child with a writing utensil and a pad of paper. If you would like to help the environment, and not waste the paper, buy small dry erase boards with markers or even small lap sized chalkboards and chalk to keep in your car.
1. License Plate Words:
Sometimes the only thing to look at going by, are other cars, so put those to use for this game. Take turns picking a passing car and the person picking the car then reads out the license plate numbers and letters to everybody. From the letters in the license plate, make words. They need to be in the order the letters are on the license plate. You can make up just one word or ask them to try and think of up to five for each license plate that gets picked. If you want to make it a challenge between them, give points for each discovered word. Set a time limit for each license plate. If they get really serious about the game, you might bring along a small egg timer they can set and look at to see how much time they have left. Set a point limit and say the first person to get to 50 or 100 wins. Then play it again.
2. License Plate Identification:
If you are traveling any great distance you are more likely to see a variety of license plates from different places. There are also older or newer plates in each place and those can count too as different points Have each child call out the plate they see and have them write down the corresponding state, province or country. You can count repeats by having them run tallies next to each list, so if they see 10 California plates or 8 Manitoba plates they make tick marks next to each. To prevent arguments over who saw which one first, have them take turns calling one out and writing it down. To make it more complex have them write down the colour or make of car and /or license plate number next to each mark so they aren’t making up cars they haven’t really seen just to beat the other children at the game. If you have very small children too, have an older one help the younger one when it is their turn to pick, then have them write it down for their younger sibling.
3. Create a Traveling Scavenger Hunt:
Provide each child with lists of things they might see along the trip. Make it a short list for quick games or a long one that may keep them occupied for a greater distance. Have them check off each item they find but they have to point it out so everyone can make sure it was really seen. Include things you will see while driving and at rest stops or places you stop for food. For example a red convertible, someone walking a dog, the first road sign that lists your destination, a bridge, an overpass, someone wearing a hat, a picture of a hamburger and so forth. The only limit to this game, is your imagination when writing the list. You can make new lists after they finish one game. Add some humorous ones too to give them a good laugh.
4. Alphabet Name Game:
This one is very simple and can be either verbal or written. The first person begins with the letter A and gives a female name, a male name, a place and an occupation. For example “My name is Anna, I’m married to Albert, we live in Albania and we raise Alligators.” or “My name is Bingo, I’m married to Brunhilda, we live in Belgium and we make Bubblegum. It doesn’t have to make sense and sometimes the silly combinations are quite humorous. The next person gets the next letter in the alphabet and does the same things but with the four subjects beginning with their letter. Continue taking turns until you get to the end of the alphabet and begin again. If someone gets stuck thinking of a corresponding place, person or occupation encourage the other children to help solve the problem. This game works well with just one parent and one child too.
5. The Trip Game:
This game makes the child concentrate on what each person says and challenges their memories. The first person says something like. “I’m going on a trip. I’m taking my suitcase and my toothbrush.” The next person has to remember the last persons list and add an item of their own, so it becomes, “I’m going on a trip. I’m taking my suitcase , my toothbrush and a jar of pickles.” Each person in turn continues on adding something to the previous list. See how far they can go without forgetting an item from the previous list. It doesn’t matter what the item is they choose, but it gets their mind off the length of the trip and on to the game at hand.
Taking children on a road trip can be both fun and challenging, so make the experience as pleasant as possible for all involved. To get the most out of the trip, encourage your children to observe the world outside the confines of your car. This is the perfect time for one on one quality time with your children and since you have to be confined to the vehicle, it helps make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.