Road Trip Games with Kids in the 21st Century
By Catherine Wiberg
The 21st century is filled with technology. Every child born in this century seems born understanding computers, game consoles, smart phones, MP3 players, and handheld electronic devices of every kind. While these technological advances have many advantages, they also can be a distraction from family fun-making memories.
On the Road Again
If you were a child before there were many portable electronics, you might remember some games from road trips with your family. If not, maybe you will get some new ideas from this article. You will find that some of the things mentioned here can be done on the road or off the road.
Did you ever play the alphabet game where each person tried to find things in the scenery, sometimes in the vehicle, that began with the next letter of the alphabet? For example, A could be “Apple that Mom is eating,” C could be “Car that just passed us.” Those are simple examples. The challenge came in being the first to name an easy item because you could not duplicate something someone else said for that letter. I recently saw a meme on social media just to help road-tripping alphabet-gamers. Talk about a save!
The alphabet game can still be fun with kids. Watch their creativity and observation skills increase. You might also hear some fun adjectives just so the children can have something that starts with Q. You also can do the alphabet game with license plates of other vehicles sharing the road.
Another fun game is “I Spy.” You can “spy” things that begin with a certain letter, have specific color, have a specific shape or purpose. My eight-year old daughter likes to play “I Spy” on errands, not just road trips.
Another variation: 20 questions. Others in the car may ask up to 20 questions to figure out what you’re thinking.
Fun games for young children include “What does not belong?” List a few items with similarities and include one that does not fit in the group. Ask your child to identify what doesn’t fit. It may seem reminiscent of “Sesame Street’s” “One of these things is not like the other.” Consider book characters from books they read for school. Have them identify which character comes from which book. See if your child can retell the story. As your children grow, you can mutate this game to become a real brain teaser.
My oldest son especially loves to hear stories about my husband when he was young. “Dad, tell us the story about…” He has favorite stories with key words. If my husband sees something as we’re driving that reminds him of his childhood, he immediately breaks into a story. Our oldest especially loves them. He wants to be exactly like his dad and mentally files all of his dad’s mischief for later use. My husband also knows stories of his own parents and grandparents. He will share those with the children as we travel. It is a great way for the kids to understand their family heritage and feel closer to their grandparents and great-grandparents. They still have one great-grandparent living. They love telling her stories they haven’t heard that involved her. Our children also love sharing stories of memories they treasure. We laugh a lot with stories.
Word games always have value. What rhymes can you create with things you see on the road trip? “There was an eagle. I’m glad it wasn’t a sea gull.” What rhymes with “deer” or “cow” or “horse” that we just passed? To quote an iconic movie (“The Princess Bride”), “Stop it now, I mean it!” “Anybody want a peanut?” Rhyming can be fun at any age. Other fun word games include creating new knock-knock jokes, talking in puns, playing with British English versus American English versus Australian English versus anything else you want.
Road trips do not need to become endless movies on the built-in TV screen. They do not need to be everyone disconnected from each other because they are connected to their personal electronics. They also do not need to be boring. Create games of your own. Share your favorite road tripping memories with us in a comment below.
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