This is my post for my parenting blog – but it works well here, too.
Here are some great (already- put-to-the-test) road trip activities.
1. The Trip Journal. Ok, I can hear you thinking, “My five-year-old keeping a journal? No way!” But wait! I’m not talking about pages of flowery description – only the basics. Buy a small notebook and a pencil for each of your kids. As you travel, write down which restaurants or parks you stopped at and where you stayed at night. Supply younger children with colored pencils and have them draw what they see – and then label the picture. “This is Old Faithful,” or ”
Here is Joey’s impression of the St. Louis Arch.” After you arrive home, put the journals in a safe place to give back to your kids when they’re older. I did this on a few trips when I was young and have found it fun to go back and see where we stopped for lunch, etc. as I took a trip to the same place with my own kids, as an adult.
2. Chenille Wires (formerly known as pipe cleaners). Give your kids a supply of colorful wires and challenge them to make an animal, a flower, a unique invention or spell a word.
3. License Plate Game. This, of course, is an old favorite. Give your kids a list of the states (and provinces) and have them keep track of those you spot. This also gives you an excuse to walk around parking lots when you stop for a break – to get out extra wiggles of young children as you check the cars! I still remember the year I got them all. I was taking a walk with my Dad around the campground at Crater Lake and I found Hawaii! I remember Dad telling the owner of the car why I was excited and standing there visiting for awhile.
4. Dry Erase Boards. Buy a small dry erase board for each of your kids. Supply them with dry erase markers and eraser and let them have fun drawing.
5. Twenty Questions. Someone thinks of something – anything. And the others have twenty questions to guess what it is. I remember playing this as we laid in our tent at night, but my grandchildren enjoy it just as much as I did. In fact, just last weekend, the 8yo asked if we could play “Twenty-five questions,” much to the amusement of his older sisters.
6. Spelling Game. One person names a letter. The next person (with an actual word in mind) says a second letter. The object is to keep from adding the last letter of a word. For instance: lst person “P.” 2nd person “A.” 3rd person “R.” Now, the fourth person would be out if he said “k” or “t,” so instead he says “m.” because he thinks of the word “parmesan.” Only count familiar words, not some obscure dictionary word that younger kids wouldn’t know. Also, a player can be challenged at any time to name the word she is spelling, so players can’t use random letters to spell a non-existent word.
7. Verse Game. Learn a verse together. Or teach your kids the books of the Bible in a fun way. (Looking for a CD with a books of the Bible song? Purchase Sing the Awana Way or Sing It, Tell it, Whisper It, Yell It. “The Perfect Book,” a song with the books of the Bible are on both those CDs. These Cds are also downloadable from iTunes.) Not only will your kids be learning something worthwhile, but you’ll be giving them a head start in Awana next year. (You could also learn other Bible facts together: the fruit of the Spirit, the Kings of Israel, etc.)
8. Alphabet Game. Another old favorite. One team takes one side of the road. The other team takes the other. (Words on cars or trucks don’t count). First you need to find an “A” on your side of the road, then a “B,” etc. The first team to find all 26 letters wins.
9. Tape and Paper. I drove an 8yo on a 10 hour road trip home from camp. Because I was a camp speaker, I had a box of blank paper, markers and tape in the back. I allowed her to use anything in the box and the tape, paper and markers literally kept her occupied the entire 10 hours. So, yes, the back of your car might get a little messy, but it’s a fun, creative way to pass the time.
10. Radio Game. Everyone in the family chooses a noun or a verb. Then turn the radio on and see who hears their word first!
In our family, to make the games even more exciting, we stopped for a special treat when we had a winner!