Car Games for Kids
As you may know, traveling with children can be stressful. It's hard to keep little ones occupied when they're strapped into one place for longer than 10 minutes. But there are ways to keep your children entertained on long car trips. Next time you're out on the open road, open your mind to a few of these car games – all of which stress important learning skills as well as providing you and your kids with a welcome diversion.
Preparation for the Game: All you need is a sheet of paper to keep score, one person to be scorekeeper and a writing utensil. Each player chooses a color. Each player's name and chosen color is then written down on the score card by the score keeper, who will announce when there is a winner.
To Play the Game: Each player announces each semi truck on the road that is his chosen color. One mark, or point, is given for each semi the person identifies as his color. The game can be played until one person reaches a certain number of points. Most people play Semi Search until one person reaches 50 points, but a longer game can be played for older children.
Benefits: Semi Search helps children identify colors and also helps them develop and maintain their attention level. The six most common semi colors are white, black, green, red, yellow and blue.
Preparation for the Game: Bingo cards will need to be made prior to the trip, but only take a few minutes to make. Be sure to make several sets to allow for more then one game of Traveling Bingo to be played, especially if traveling a long distance.
To make the Bingo cards, draw five columns of five boxes centered on the paper. You can use colored or white paper, whichever is more convenient. Over the top of each column, one letter per column, print the letters B-I-N-G-O. Next, draw or place stickers of various items that may be encountered along the trip. Some popular suggestions are cows, tractors, umbrellas, dogs, horses, sheep, barns, lawn furniture, radio or television towers, different colors and types of cars (such as a red truck or blue minivan), police cars, ambulances or fire trucks. You want the children, and/or adults, playing to have to search for the objects.
To Play the Game: Each player is given one card and a writing utensil to mark their boxes. When an object on the card is identified, an X is marked on the box for the object. When a person completes a row, up, down, across or diagonal, he wins. The game can be played until one-person wins two games, or if fewer people are playing, the first to win three out of five.
Benefits: Traveling Bingo is an observation game that helps develop observation and object relation skills. Identifying pictures of objects to their real images aids a child in recognition. The game will also aid a younger child with fine motor skills by allowing them to use the writing utensil and place Xs in the appropriate boxes on their card.
License Plate Alphabet
Preparation for the Game: Preparing for License Plate Alphabet is easy. All that is needed are sheets of paper, colored or white, as well as a writing utensil.
Simply write the letters across the sheet of paper big enough so they can be marked out. The sheet of paper will be the "game board." To aid in identification, it is recommended that the letters be written in capital, as this is the common practice of lettering on license plates.
To Play the Game: Each person is given a game board and a writing utensil. When a letter of the alphabet is found on another vehicle's license plate, the player that "found" the letter marks it out on his game board. The first player to find a set number of letters, or for longer distances or older children, the entire alphabet, wins the game.
Benefits: The License Plate Alphabet game aids children in letter identification. The letters are observed on various license plates and then must also be identified on their game board. The License Plate Alphabet game also aids in recognition, observation and fine motor skills.
The State Game
Preparing to Play: To prepare to play the State Game takes a little more effort than the other car games. However, if traveling a long distance, especially across country, the effort is well worth it.
To play the State Game, make a list of all 50 states on a sheet of paper. Make as many copies of this list as may be needed while traveling. It is recommended to put the states in alphabetical order so that they can be found with ease.
To Play the Game: Each player is given one list of the states and one writing utensil. The object is to find as many different states on the license plates of other vehicles as possible. Granted, Hawaii and Alaska are rarely seen, but it is not impossible. The game can either be given a time limit, such as one hour, or a number of different states, such as the first to find 15, to determine a winner. The game can be played once or, again, played until one person wins two games. Be sure to make plenty of copies of the state lists, as this game becomes popular fairly quickly.
Benefits: The State Game aids the players in identifying each different state of the United States, as well as with reading skills. Another benefit of the game can be added by allowing the players to identify the state on a map before awarding points.
There are variations of each of the games listed, and feel free to make changes that will suit the needs of your traveling family. These games can be altered for younger children, as well as older children, to increase or decrease the difficulty level that will be of the most benefit to their age group.
Traveling with children does not have to be a stressful experience. Offering fun games that are only played in the car will have the children wanting to plan for the next "road trip," just when getting home from the last.