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Having Fun Together

13 Car Games to Play With Your Kid

Keep everyone (including you!) distracted and happy on a road trip with these super-fun games

Katz Hernandez
There are few things more ominous than hearing “How much longer?” from the back seat when you are only 20 minutes into an hours-long road trip. Time for car games! From “Going on a Picnic” to “I Spy,” these games have stood the test of time for a reason. Forgotten how to play or need to some new ideas? Here you go.

Going on a Picnic.
One person names an item you’d bring on a picnic. Then the next person names the first item and adds a new item to the list. It goes from there, with each player having to remember what was named previously. For example, player one picks watermelon. Player two then says watermelon, and, say, pretzels. Player three (or player one again) needs to remember watermelon and pretzels before adding their own. Whoever forgets a picnic food is out!

“I Spy.” Each rider takes a turn looking outside for something that fits a certain description for the other person to identify. The first player says something like “I spy with my little eye -- something soft,” which could be, say, a flower, a fluffy dog or sand. The other player calls out possible objects until guessing the correct one.

Alphabet Hunt. Have your kiddo look for each letter of the alphabet on the signs and billboards you pass during your journey.

Rhyming Time. Chant the following to a simple tune: I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with house, it starts with an “m” so it must be “_____.”

Guess My Number. Tell the back seat you’re thinking of a number between one and 10, or between any two numbers, harder or easier depending on your kid’s age. Each time your child guesses a number, say whether yours is higher or lower than the one guessed, until your child arrives at the actual number.

Counting Game. Ask your child to count 10 trucks, 10 stop signs and so on. Older children can keep score with a pencil and a small notebook.

Story Together. Create a story together with your preschooler. Start with an intriguing first sentence, then have fun with the plot as you take turns narrating the next parts of the story.

Phonics Game. Have your kid think of words that begin with the “sound” of a particular letter of the alphabet. For the letter b, for example, ask your child to think of words starting with the sound “buh.” For more advanced players, think of a word for each letter of the alphabet.

Spelling Bee. For your beginning speller, choose simple words, such as “hat,” “cat,” and “rat.”

Twenty Questions. Think of a person, place or thing and offer clues. For younger children, clues can be obvious. “I’m thinking of the town where Grandma lives.” “I came to your birthday party and my first name begins with C.” Older kids can tolerate more frustration, so clues for them can be more complex. The clue “The seventh book about me will be the last in the series” could be followed with “My best friends are Ron and Hermione.”

Name That Tune. Play a fast snippet of a song on the radio, or through a digital device. Everyone tries to be the first to guess the song. To up the challenge with older kids, try naming the song and artist. Humming or whistling the song works, too.

Word Follow Up. The first player shouts out a word. The next player’s word has to start with the last letter of the previous player’s word. For instance, if you start out with “towel,” your child needs to come up with a word that starts with the letter “L.” No repeating words! Add an extra twist by deciding on a theme before you begin, perhaps animals, or states and countries for older kids.

Scout Out License Plates. Set the challenge: Being the first to spot a license plate from a particular state. This works particularly well on major highways. Not seeing many long-distance travelers on your road? You can still play by challenging the group to find a license plate that begins (or ends) with a certain letter or number.