Dateline: June 24, 2002
By Ann Zeise
Playing games with kids can make a long
car trip both pleasant and educational. Print this out to take
along! Looking out the window, searching for objects can also
help prevent car sickness. Keep the games light. It isn't winning
that matters here, it is laughing in order to make a long drive
pass by quickly.
Printer and Cell Phone Friendly Version | Excel Version
Using license plate letters, come up
with the name of a real or fictitious name for a governmental
or other organization, the funnier the better. Played in rounds.
Whoever makes the others laugh or groan wins. Everyone can win!
When you pass a big truck, with your
fist clenched, make a pulling down motion while smiling at the
truck driver. If you are lucky, he'll pull his air horn and toot
back at you! Warn your parent you are going to be playing this
game. Air horns are rather loud. Not to be played in heavy traffic
or in a city.
One person starts with the letter "A"
and says, "I'm going on a trip, and I'm going to bring ____
" and names something that begins with the letter "A."
The next person repeats what the first person said, and adds
something that starts with a "B." The next repeats
what they said, but adds a "C" item, and so on until
someone can't remember the whole list. For small children, don't
repeat and just let them add a new item that is the next letter
of the alphabet.
Before you leave make several copies
of these BINGO
cards and call out pieces. Little yellow
sticky notes make great covering pieces! Play with any BINGO
rules you like: 5 in a row, Blackout, etc. This site also has
picture themed BINGO that kids will enjoy.
Some, like "Go Fish" are fairly
easy to play when driving. Rummy is another. Here's the rules to many card games.
Teams on left and right side of the
car count cows throughout the day on their side of the car, while
trying to distract the other team from actually seeing any cows
on their side. If you pass a cemetery (or boat) on your side
of the car, you lose all your cow points.... provided the other
team sees the cemetery (or boat) and catches you! Variation:
seeing a white horse after a cemetery (or boat) and you get your
lost points back. Winning side gets whatever they want to eat
at the next stop.
Hay Truck Wishes
If a hay truck passes you, hurry and
make a wish! But don't look back or your wish won't come true!
If you see a Volkswagen "bug"
you get to give one other person in the car a hug... or throw
them a kiss.
Pack along a large drawing tablet and
thick, black markers. Have kids make signs to send messages to
other cars, such as "If you like Texans, wave!" or
"Your brake light is out!"
Invent a Better
My son invented this game when we were
stuck in traffic. First we improved our car, adding an ice cream
dispenser, a toilet (We were getting desperate!) and such. Then
we added helicopter propellers so we could get above the traffic
and speed away, but that wasn't fast enough, so we added a jet
engine! Some of the improvements were quite funny, and laughing
helped the time pass. Everyone wins this game!
Select a car from a distance that you
are about to pass. Everyone attempts to make a word from the
3 letters on the plate. The word must begin with the first letter,
have the second letter in the middle, and end in the last letter.
Longest word wins the total of the number of numbers on the license
plate... if they add it right.
Variation for older kids: words must
have 2 or more syllables. They must multiply the numbers on the
plate together to get the score.
Variation for little kids: have the
alphabet in upper case printed out before you go. They just have
to try to find each letter.
Early reader: Has to come up with a
word that either starts with the first letter, or has the middle
letter in it, or ends in the last letter.
Watch for numbers on signs along the
road. With beginners in the car, only add the numbers. In an
advanced crowd, add the first two numbers, multiply by the third
and divide by the fourth, throwing out any remainder. Each round
played separately, but others help look for numbers. Winner is
the person with the largest number after all have had a chance.
My Aunt Tilly
Aunt Tilly has peculiar likes and dislikes.
She likes butter and jelly, but not peanuts or jam. She likes
books but doesn't read. She wears boots but not shoes. She's
doesn't care for cake or ice cream, but likes Jello. Tilly very
much likes bookkeeping, as she adds well, but she can't subtract.
There's a pattern here. Once you get it, start saying other sets
of things Tilly likes and dislikes. The tip is in her name and
how it is similar to the things she likes.
Name That Tune
One person hums a tune and the others
try to guess what it is. Winner gets to hum the next tune.
Each player selects a color. The first
to see 10 big rigs in their color wins. Tip: select from white,
black, green, red, yellow, or blue. Play at same time as Air
Horn. If you get a truck in your color to honk at you, you automatically
Print out a copy of a
map of the USA (or other
map) for each player. Leave your own
state white. Color the states that border your state Yellow,
the states the border those states Orange, the next out Red,
the next Purple, and all the rest Blue.
Look for cars with out-of-state license
plates. The scoring goes as follows:
- 1 pt - Yellow
- 2 pt - Orange
- 4 pt - Red
- 6 pt - Purple
- 8 pt - Blue
Hawaii and Alaska are 10 points, unless
you live there. Hawaiians and Alaskans get 10 points for Florida
Only the first person to spot an out
of state license plate gets the points for that sighting. They
must find a license from another state before they can get any
more points from the state they just found.
You can decide when the game ends ahead
of time. Set a time limit and whoever has the most by then wins,
or set a point limit, and the winner is first to get that many
points, or as soon as one person has 10 sightings, scores are
added, and highest score is the winner.
For those playing in the USA.
of the World
For those playing all over the world, where
ever there are licensed vehicles.
"It" selects a letter, and
someone notes the time. Everyone watches out for things that
start with that letter. First to call out gets the item, and
keeps track on their fingers. With a tie, no one gets it. In
ten minutes the person watching the clock calls "Time!"
and the person having seen the most items wins, and gets to pick
the next letter.
"It" thinks of a person, place
or thing and announces they are ready. Others ask questions that
can be answered by "yes" or "no" by "It."
With strict rules, only 20 questions may be asked. "It"
keeps track on his fingers and wins if the others can't guess
Taste and evaluate drinking water as
you take rest stops. Make a chart of where you were. Did the
water look clear? Did the water have any flavor or smell to it?
Did you like it or not? If possible, ask where the water comes
from - a well or a river or where?
Links to More Car Games
101 Car Travel Games & Ideas for Kids.
Today is Fun
Lots of ideas for entertaining kids in the car, and most need no props.
License Plate graphics used with permission from License Plates Plus, which used to be a collectors' site, but has now gone commercial.