53 Fun Car Games for Kids
Make family car rides fly by with these activities to do with children, whether you're heading to the store or on a three hour trip to Grandma's house.
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet now?"
"Are you sure we're not there yet?"
Getting into the car with kids in tow can be a lesson in patience. How do you keep kids occupied when you're traveling from place to place?
Laurel Smith, creator of Momsminivan.com, recommends planning ahead and having a list of activities ready to go before you head out.
With that in mind, here are 53 things you can do with your kids in the car.
Safety Note: just make sure these don't distract you if you're the one driving.
- Play I Spy ("with my little eye…")
- Give kids the map and let them navigate the journey
- Bring a piece of yarn and learn string finger games likes Cat's Cradle or Jacob's Ladder
- Listen to an audiobook -- check out kids' audiobooks from Tales2Go
- Have a sing-a-long
- Play the License Plate Game during longer car rides -- see if you can get all 50 states
- Bring cards and play Go Fish
- Have a spelling bee
- Play "What If": what if this car turned into a spaceship, where would we go?
- Make friendship bracelets
- Share family stories
- Create a road trip scavenger hunt -- track down the clues as you go
- Bring magnetic board games
- Have a mini-Olympics at rest stops -- running, jumping jacks, arm circles -- and get the energy out
- Count crows or cows, depending on where you're driving
- See how many red cars you can spot in an hour
- Play Crazy 8's
- Try a memory game: A is for Apple, B is for Boat -- see how far you can go with each person remembering the letters and words that people said before, then coming up with the next one
- Bring a joke book and make each other laugh
- Or invent your own jokes
- Play the Animal Game: "I'm gray, I have big ears and a long nose … What am I?"
- Learn about your destination -- share fun facts and discuss things to do when you arrive
- Play punch buggy
- Have a sock puppet show
- Bring along Mad Libs
- Keep a travel jar with mementos from your ride
- Elect a toll master -- keep track of the tickets, look out for the right exits and get the change ready for the toll booths
- Share family history by telling stories about relatives
- Play travel bingo
- Give your kids cookie sheets to use as a travel desks
- Have a mini dance party -- only arm movements allowed
- Make a scrapbook with photos and memorabilia from your trip
- Hum nursery rhymes and play Name That Tune
- Print paper games ahead of time and do connect the dots
- Make your own paper games like Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman
- Play Old Maid.
- Learn the welcome slogans for each state you cross (e.g. "Florida: The Sunshine State, Delaware: The First State, New York: The Empire State")
- Bring leftover aluminum foil and make artwork
- Try the Animal Name Game -- the first person says the name of an animal (like dog), then the next person says the name of another animal using the last letter of the previous animal's name (like giraffe)
- Have a math challenge
- Count school busses on the road
- Guess Who Am I (friends, family members, celebrities, characters, etc.): "I'm a bear, I love honey and my best friend is Piglet"
- Keep a travel journal
- Make a destination binder with highlights and activities for your trip
- Play 20 Questions
- Bring pipe cleaners and make colorful shapes
- Learn the state capitals
- Bring crayons and coloring pencils
- Play telephone
- Make a family playlist
- Ask fun questions like "If I were a king/queen …," "If I could live anywhere in the world…" and see who can come up with the most creative answers
- Sing your favorite songs in rounds
- Celebrate every 100 miles with a "Hooray" and a high five
NEXT UP: The 25 Most Fun Games for Kids.
Tiffany Smith is the director of content and publicity at William Woods University. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And, as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite.