Thursday, September 15, 2016

Car Games

One day I was at a book table and a man picked up a copy of my book on family mealtimes and said "Your next book should be on 'raising your kids while driving'." He had more confidence in me than I do in my writing and wisdom.


While I was never a taxi mom due to raising our children in South America, we have spent our fair share of time in the car together thanks to wonder and fear inducing traffic jams in third world capital cities and cross country road trips, mostly in the states.

Does this sound familiar? As Dad concentrates on traffic and directions, Mom valiantly tries to keep everyone happy...or at least prevent bodily harm...between four children who are tired of being in the car and cooped up with each other and have a sudden, drastic aversion to being touched.

Here are some of our favorite ways to make car rids fun. These tried and true activities will work whether you are driving across country or across town.


  • Listening to Adventures in Odyssey 
  • Sing through the alphabet (sing a song that the first letter of the first word starts with "A", then one that starts with "B", and so on)
  • The Alphabet Game (while finding "J" and "Q" in Spanish speaking countries is easy, "K" is nearly impossible)
  • I Spy/Twenty Questions
  • Listening to Adventures in Odyssey 
  • The Cow Game (two players or teams each choose a side of the road and count the cows they see; these are "their" cows; if they pass a roadside memorial cross or a cemetery all their cows die; the one with the most cows at the end of a set time wins)
  • When we traveled around the states we would play the "License Plate Game" but this usually lasted the whole length of the trip. We would work together to spot license plates from all 50 states in the Union. (Going to a popular national destination like the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite National Park, or Disney World and trolling the parking lot helps with those hard to find states!)
  • Fortunately/Unfortunately story telling (first player begins a made up story ending their one minute--more or less--story with a predicament; the next player says "fortunately" and solves the problem; the next person say "unfortunately" and creates another difficult situation; the next storyteller says "fortunately" and so on; this is most fun with an odd number of people)
  • Did I mention Listening to Adventures in Odyssey 



Besides ear buds and videos I've come up with a couple of new ideas that I hope to try out soon.

The first involves using your data plan and this random word generator (or any other you find). This one lets you choose the number of words you want. I suggest three. Click on "generate random words" and the next player has to try to make a sentence using all three words. For example, just now I got "official", "glove", and "version".  Here's the sentence I came up with:

It was always nerve-wracking when my boss used her official white glove
 to see if my version of clean met up with hers.

For a more challenging version of this game could be that you have to tell a continuous story with each person using their three words in the next sentence of the story.



I like words. You probably guessed that. But one reason verbal word games are good is they don't involve (much) looking down and reading which can cause carsickness which leads to unhappy passengers. 

Another game you could play involves synonyms. There are two ways to play this game. The first is to choose a common word, like "good" and try to go around listing synonyms. The first person says, "Good" the people following each say one word that they think is a synonym like: nice, admirable, excellent, outstanding, etc. Everyone decides if the words is a synonym of of some kind. If they don't think it is, use your data to look it up online to settle the dispute. The person who can't think of a synonym or who says a word that is not a synonym is out. Keep going around with new words until one person is the winner.

The second way to play this game is to do it with a synonym not to a main word, but to the preceding word. For example the list might go like this: Warm -> Hot -> Gorgeous -> Pretty -> Fairly -> Justly -> Rightly -> Properly -> Appropriately...get the idea? This can be a lot of fun because you will get some unexpected words that were completely different than what everyone was thinking!

Both of these games could be done with antonyms as well. In the first version, keep listing antonyms to one base word. In the second, give an antonym to the preceding word.

If you are a soccer mom (or a hockey mom, or a orthodontist appointment mom) you can put these ideas to use right away. Or you can bookmark this page for your next road trip!


Happy Travels!






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