Delightfully Distracted: 18 Great Learning Games for Car Trips

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: Claus Christensen, DigitalVision/ Getty Images

Whether on short trips to the store or long road trips, car games help make travel time more entertaining and distract your kids from the monotony of the drive. Even better is if those games help your kids learn. Here are some great car games for kids of different ages.

  • Ages 3 - 5

  • Find the Color

    One person picks a color to find. The first person to find that color on something outside of the car wins and picks the next color.

  • Alphabet Name Game

    Find the letters in your name using signs and license plates. All players can help search.

  • Rhyme Time

    Say a word on a sign or something that you see. Try to think of words that rhyme with it. For example: “car” — rhymes with “jar,” “star,” “bar,” and so on.

  • Alliteration Sentences

    Someone says a letter or sound. Take turns making up silly sentences that (mostly) start with that letter.

  • I Spy Bottles

    Buy or make your own “Find It” or “I Spy” bottle. These contain small items that are mixed in with a lot of rice and glued shut. Kids shake the bottle to find the items.

  • Ages 6 - 8

  • Silly License Plate Sentences

    Use the letters in license plates to invent crazy sentences. GBD 465 could be “Gorillas buy donuts.”

  • A to Z Game

    Use signs and license plates to find each letter of the alphabet, starting with A and continuing all the way to Z.

  • License Plate Numbers

    Start at zero and find consecutive numbers up to fifty.

  • Alphabet Category Game

    One player thinks of a category (foods, animals, movies, books, and so forth) and all the players take turns naming something in that category in alphabetical order. Or, don’t go in alphabetical order, but have players think of something starting with the last letter of whatever item was previously mentioned.

  • Scavenger Hunt

    Make your own list of scavenger hunt items to search for on the trip. Let your kids take turns making these lists.

  • 20 Questions – Guess Who, What, Where

    One person thinks of something and says whether it’s a person, place, or thing. The other people in the car each ask questions that have “yes” or “no” answers.

  • Ages 9 - 12

  • Round Robin Storytelling

    Take turns inventing a story. One player makes up the beginning of the story then the other players continue it. Try to incorporate landmarks, signs, or other things you see out your car windows into the story.

  • Would You Rather?

    Use your imagination and ask other players to pick one of two situations. Start with the prompt “Would you rather … ?”

  • Mad Libs

    Grab a pencil and fill in the story blanks to make a crazy story.

  • Name that Tune (or Artist)

    Have someone with an iPod play song selections — decide how many seconds to play each and which point in the song to start from. See who can name the tune or artist first.

  • Around the World

    The object of this game is to name places (countries, cities, states, bodies of water, or landmarks) around the world using the last letter of the word the player before you said. So if player one names a place in the world such as “Canada,” player two must name something that starts with an “a” since “a” is the last letter of the word “Canada.”

  • Rubberneckers

    In this card game, players must watch closely to find the items listed on the cards in order to score points.

  • I’m Going Camping Game

    The first player thinks of a rule for the game but doesn’t tell anyone. The rule could be things that are black, things that start with the letter “M,” things that grow in the ground, or anything like that. The player then says, “I’m going camping and I’m bringing _____ ,” and says something that fits with the rule. The game continues with the next player saying what he will bring. If the player guesses the rule and brings the appropriate thing, he can “come along.” If not, “Sorry, you can’t go camping.”

What other games have kept your kiddos entertained while traveling?