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Favorite Games for Long Car Rides

The Alliance – Practical Parenting

Spring and summer often mean more time spent in the car, whether traveling on vacation or just riding to sporting events, the beach, or the pool. Kids can keep busy and maybe even learn a thing or two playing some tried and true car games. Forget the DVD, iPod, or handheld electronic game which isolates each child into his/her own world. Instead, play games together and enjoy the ride, too.

20 Questions
One person thinks of an object (and perhaps writes it down). The first question asked is always “Is it animal, vegetable or mineral?” Then the players have 19 more yes or no questions to guess the object. First player to guess the correct answer gets to think of the object for the next round.

Alphabet Game
Play individually or with teams (left half vs. right half of the car). Find every letter of the alphabet in order on signs, mailboxes, etc. on your side of the car.

Alphabet Categories
Pick a category (animals, food, etc.). Going through the alphabet, each player has to think of an object in that category.

Piggyback
The first to call out “piggyback” when they spot a car carrier gets it. If you call one but it turns out not to be a piggyback, subtract two points. Only moving piggybacks count — not ones parked on the side of the road. Other variations include tallying red cars, Volkswagen bugs, etc.

License Plate Game
Print a U.S. map or a list of the 50 states. See if you can get all 50 states on your driving trip or between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Some families note the date and place where they first saw a license plate.

Another License Plate Game
Spot a license plate and call out the letters on it. Then everyone tries to come up with a different phrase using the letters in the order they appear on the license plate as the first letter of each word. For instance KLW could be "kittens love watermelon" or "Kelly likes wheelbarrows." You could limit the phrases to categories such as animals, people you know, etc. When you can't think of any more, look for another license plate with letters.

Buzz
Starting with one, players take turns counting. Every time a player gets to a number divisible by seven (7, 14, 21) or has a 7 in it (17), they say "Buzz" instead of the number. If one person makes a mistake, everyone starts over. The goal is to reach 100. Fuzz Buzz: say "Fuzz" for every number with a three in it or divisible by three and “Buzz” for numbers divisible by 7. This game can be challenging!

Car Travel Bingo
Remember the cardboard Auto Bingo cards with see-through red or orange plastic windows that slide (no loose pieces) from when you were a kid? Well, they are still available (on Amazon) and offer many hours of travel fun. Or visit a helpful website, www.momsminivan.com, and print a variety of travel bingo games. This website has lots a good ideas for travel fun.

I Packed My Grandmother’s Trunk
This is a memory game. Start out by saying “I packed my grandmother’s trunk and in it I put….” Then, name an object. The next person has to repeat what has already been said and then add another object. The next player repeats the first two objects and adds a third and so on. Eliminate any player who makes a mistake. Some people name the objects in alphabetical order.

Counting Cows
Players start counting cows on their side of the road. The goal is to have the highest number when the destination is reached. If you pass a cemetery on your side, you lose all your cows (“Dead cows!") and have to start counting again. No cows on your route? Choose something else to count.

Cemetery Swat and/or Punch Bug
The first to see a cemetery or the first to spot a Volkswagen Bug gets to “swat” or “punch” his/her sibling. Well, maybe this is one game not to teach your kids….

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