Spring is in the air and you’re probably all ready for a road trip with the kids, right? Before you pack the suitcases, the kids, and the sunscreen into the car, make sure you have a plan for keeping the kiddos entertained during the long hours on the road. Because there’s nothing worse than hearing that dreaded phrase “Are we there yet?”
Except maybe the click, click, click of an electronic handheld game. In small doses, electronic games can be a fun way to pass some time, but when the batteries are dying or you just want your child to actually learn something, other games are available.
It won’t take long before your carload of young travelers is over the thrill of the open road and ready for some engaging games to keep them occupied — and help them brush up on essential skills, such as memory, creativity, reading, observation, storytelling, and more.
To start, pick a topic, such as “items you’d find at a grocery store” or “types of cars.” Stick with topics your children know well. Then, take turns calling out an answer. Continue the rounds until someone is stumped and can’t come up with an answer within five or ten seconds. For the next topic, that person has to sit out, and so on until you have a winner.
Variations on this game include calling out answers in alphabetic sequence. For example, with the grocery store topic, the first person might say “apple” and the next person would say “banana.” To include memorization skills, you can have each person say the previous answers in sequence before adding his own, such as “apple, banana, cat food.”
Encourage creativity and imagination during your road trip by playing a storytelling game. One way to play is to pick groups in passing cars and take turns making up a story about who they are and where they’re going.
Another variation is to take turns making up a story one line at a time. If your child is old enough, you can require that the last word of each line rhymes with the previous line. To continue the fun, record the story so you can transcribe it later. Have your kids draw pictures to accompany the story and you’ll end up with your own family storybook.
While the classic license plate game is always an option, there are plenty of other fun games you can play to help your child to build observation skills. If you’ve got time before your trip, a little preparation can go a long way to creating a fun travel-themed game of Bingo for the car.
Start by gathering pictures of common objects you see on the road, such as cows, stop signs, rivers, airplanes, semi trucks, and more. You can draw the pictures, cut them out of magazines, or print clip art — whatever works for you, as long as all the pictures are roughly the same size. Arrange the pictures on a square piece of paper divided into boxes, either three by three or four by four. To play, distribute the homemade bingo cards and a sheet of stickers, which won’t slide around like Bingo chips. Whenever you or your child observes an item on your respective cards, put a sticker in that box. The first one to get a Bingo wins.
And the Winner Is…
For all of these games, small prizes are a great way to keep things fun and exciting. Before your trip, stock a grab bag with trinkets, stickers, coloring books, your child’s favorite snack, or money. You can also give away homemade cards that offer vacation bonuses, such as extra time at the hotel pool, a later bed time, or extra tokens at the boardwalk.
With any luck, these games will keep your kids so entertained they’ll forget that this vacation isn’t just about the journey.
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