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Kids in the Car: They can Be Enjoyable

  • JWB Post
  •  October 25, 2014


When you have to confine the little ones to a box, like a moving vehicle on a long road trip, their inquisitiveness can soon put your parenting skills severely to the test. After all, who’s not familiar with the irritating back-seat refrain of “Are we there yet?”

Fortunately, parents or any adults who must safely ferry kids from point A to point B have a near limitless number of options for keeping everyone occupied during the trip. Some of these options might require a significant outlay of cash – for example, electronic games and gadgets. But you can also make it peacefully through a road trip with your wallet or purse unscathed, using diversions of the imagination such as reading, coloring books and games. Here, we will talk about such methods:

1. Lingo

And while this one is pretty simple, it can still be plenty of fun — depending on the player’s imagination, that is. In this game, kids take turns explaining the meaning of the letters on selected cars’ license plates or road sign they meet on the way. For instance, “RJ” might stand for “Royal Giraffe” or “Rainy Jam.” Make it a contest where the winner is the person who comes up with the funniest, most ridiculous or most complicated expanded acronyms after a given number of rounds. You’ll probably be surprised by what your kids can come up with during this one!

2. Map

This activity lets kids answer for themselves the question “Are we almost there?” Armed with a map, their skills to observe the city names on highway exit signs and perhaps a peek at the GPS navigation system, the little ones can know at all times how much farther there is to go.

To make it a little more interactive, you can print out the map from a site like Google Maps or MapQuest, and encourage your kids to mark off the various cities you pass and fill in the route with colored pencils or crayons as you continue your drive.

3. Animals Farm

Who can locate the most animals during the trip? Any creature that moves (or once moved) can be fair game, so to speak: cow, livestock, birds (get them to name specific types), even sun-dried insects caught between the dashboard and windshield can be counted. Make this as competitive or non-competitive as the situation warrants — perhaps put up a small prize to encourage everyone to participate. You might even want to appoint someone to write down who said what, just so you know who gets the prize at the next rest stop. To make it even a more knowledgeable game, download animal encyclopedia on your phone and read interesting facts about the detected animals.

4. Tunes

There are plenty of available CDs in the “Kids Music” section of your local music store. To make sure that kids know words, arrange a book of song lyrics. So, a little concert in the car will keep everyone happy.

5. The Alphabet Game

The Alphabet Game is a great one to play in the car. Start by choosing a category – this could be anything: states, cities, animals, movie titles, famous people – and then go around the group with each player naming something in that category starting with the next letter of the alphabet. It sounds deceptively easy (alligator, bumblebee, cat, etc.) but it requires quick thinking and a broad knowledge base to win.

6. Twenty Questions

Another classic no-pieces required game, Twenty Questions is the kind of game you can play anywhere, anytime, with any number of players. One person thinks of a person, place, or thing – either that they can see it in the car or not – and the rest of the players take turns asking one question each until they can guess it.

7. Audio Books

Make them listen to great stories and discuss it afterward.

8. Road Diary

Involve them in making a road diary. For that they have to draw everything what they see outside the window, writing observation and thoughts. By the end of the trip you will name the winner, whose diary will be the most interesting and descriptive.

9. Balloon Challenge

Give the kids balloons and see if they can blow them up themselves.  If you don’t want an inflated balloon, give the kids some crayons and a balloon.  See who can put the most crayons into their balloons.

10. Light Show

Each kid has a flashlight. The kind with different colored lights is best for the longest play. A great way to entertain them once it is dark out – assuming you couldn’t get them to go to sleep.

11. Catalog “shopping”

Toy magazines – these keep kids entertained for hours.  You can even let them cut out pictures of the things they want and make a “wish list” collage with a couple glue sticks, if you are feeling adventurous.

Share you favorite tricks to keep your kids happy during long trips.

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