Any journey that lasts longer than 20 minutes, can push the happy family in the car to breaking point. Children will not sleep the entire time and neither will they sit quietly – frankly, children on a long journey will need entertaining from time to time.
If the thought of playing I Spy over and over again fills you with dread, you need some new games up your sleeve. Fortunately, there are also all kinds of inexpensive, but worthwhile toys and so on available from party bags and supplies that can also help with the open road that s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s endlessly ahead.
Preparation is key
For a hassle and squabble free trip, you need to prepare. You need to have all kinds of games and toys, ready to cut across the squabbles. Being prepared also means your stress levels remain low and everyone gets to enjoy the journey.
And so, what games can you play with your kids to prevent an outbreak of hostilities and tears?
1. I Spy
Yup, it’s that old favorite that on its own can push any mild-mannered parent over the edge but, before you can this idea, you can add some twists such as: you have 5 minutes to play as many games of I Spy as you can. When someone had guessed the object why not see if they can spell the object too?
But not as you know it! These bingo cards are all ready to print and are full of icons and so on that you would expect to find on a car journey. When you spot the object, you mark it off on your bingo card. Some of the objects are a little Americanized, but you can always substitute your own ideas. Have some prizes too!
3. License plates
There are a mix of license plates in the UK, and even abroad too, so give each child a letter and digit and they must spot a car with the license plate that has both. You can use their birthday and initials too, or look for a plate with an L in it and so on. Great for numeracy and recognizing letters.
4. Noughts and Crosses
This can be an impromptu game using a scrappy bit of paper. The best things to travel with are blank pieces of paper, and pencils. Draw the grid and let them play so many games, again you can time it so that they have a limit on how long they can play for.
Why not invest in some wipe able whiteboards and some colored pens? They can be used for anything from drawing pictures, to hangman and so on.
5. I’m going on holiday and I am taking with me…
This is an excellent memory game that is sure to provide a whole heap of laughter. You may find the children far better with their memory than the adults.
Starting from A in the alphabet, work your way through items that are going to be taken on holiday:
Mum says I’m going on holiday and I am taking an Aardvark.
Dad then repeats, I’m going on holiday and I am taking an Aardvark and a biro…I
Get the idea? And this goes round and round the car participants until someone becomes completely lost in the alphabet and cannot remember a thing that is being taken. No cheating and writing it down either…
6. 20 questions!
You have one person in control of the game at one time. They need to think of a famous person, place or object (don’t make it too obscure of you will never guess). The remaining people in the car have up to 20 questions to ask, and from the information they elicit from the person, they have to decide what or who they are.
Questions needs to be closed – in other words, ones that the answer is only yes or no. This is a great game to teach children how to order thoughts and strategize their questioning.
7. Connecting the dots
Great for encouraging tactical thinkers but, if you have children that don’t travel well, this may not be the best game.
Invest in some inexpensive graph paper made up from dots. Each child has a different colored pen and with it has one stroke of the pen, connecting one dot to another, each turn they have. The idea is to create a square which they then claim by putting their initial in it. Clearly, this gets tougher as the game goes on as the idea is not to give away squares to the other person.
Brilliant for literacy! An age-old game that has one person in control. Each dash represent a letter in the word and the other people must guess letter by letter. For every letter that is not in the word, a piece of the hangman’s noose is drawn.
Be ready with some word ideas to help out the smaller children.
9. The Preacher’s Cat
A great memory game that again focuses on the alphabet but this time the letter doesn’t change until you cannot think of any more names beginning with that letter. The descriptive words also needs to start with the same letter… really tough further in to the alphabet.
The preacher’s cat is an awesome cat called Andrea
The preacher’s cat is an amazing cat called Alfred…
And so on… when you have exhausted A, move on to B and so on.
10. Spot the car
And finally, ask your kids to keep an eye out for a ‘green lorry’ or a ‘red Ford’ and so on…
All you need to do now is sit back and enjoy the journey!
Written by: David