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53 Fun Car Games for Kids

Tiffany Smith
May 25, 2017

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.  

  1. Play I Spy ("with my little eye…")
  2. Give kids the map and let them navigate the journey
  3. Bring a piece of yarn and learn string finger games likes Cat's Cradle or Jacob's Ladder
  4. Listen to an audiobook -- check out kids' audiobooks from Tales2Go
  5. Have a sing-a-long
  6. Play the License Plate Game during longer car rides -- see if you can get all 50 states
  7. Bring cards and play Go Fish
  8. Have a spelling bee
  9. Play "What If": what if this car turned into a spaceship, where would we go?
  10. Make friendship bracelets
  11. Share family stories
  12. Create a road trip scavenger hunt -- track down the clues as you go
  13. Bring magnetic board games
  14. Have a mini-Olympics at rest stops -- running, jumping jacks, arm circles -- and get the energy out
  15. Count crows or cows, depending on where you're driving
  16. See how many red cars you can spot in an hour
  17. Play Crazy 8's
  18. 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
  19. Bring a joke book and make each other laugh
  20. Or invent your own jokes
  21. Play the Animal Game: "I'm gray, I have big ears and a long nose … What am I?"
  22. Learn about your destination -- share fun facts and discuss things to do when you arrive
  23. Play punch buggy
  24. Have a sock puppet show
  25. Bring along Mad Libs
  26. Keep a travel jar with mementos from your ride
  27. Elect a toll master -- keep track of the tickets, look out for the right exits and get the change ready for the toll booths
  28. Share family history by telling stories about relatives
  29. Play travel bingo
  30. Give your kids cookie sheets to use as a travel desks
  31. Have a mini dance party -- only arm movements allowed
  32. Make a scrapbook with photos and memorabilia from your trip
  33. Hum nursery rhymes and play Name That Tune
  34. Print paper games ahead of time and do connect the dots
  35. Make your own paper games like Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman
  36. Play Old Maid.
  37. Learn the welcome slogans for each state you cross (e.g. "Florida: The Sunshine State, Delaware: The First State, New York: The Empire State")
  38. Bring leftover aluminum foil and make artwork
  39. 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)
  40. Have a math challenge
  41. Count school busses on the road
  42. Guess Who Am I (friends, family members, celebrities, characters, etc.): "I'm a bear, I love honey and my best friend is Piglet"
  43. Keep a travel journal
  44. Make a destination binder with highlights and activities for your trip
  45. Play 20 Questions
  46. Bring pipe cleaners and make colorful shapes
  47. Learn the state capitals
  48. Bring crayons and coloring pencils
  49. Play telephone
  50. Make a family playlist
  51. 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
  52. Sing your favorite songs in rounds
  53. 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​​​​​​

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