Every parent will agree, long car journeys with toddlers can be a headache, so to make things easier, we’ve come up with 13 of the best car games to play. Whether you’re off on that first family holiday, or just visting grandma, here are some fun games to keep your tots happy till the next stop!
1. Animal antics
This game is all about animal sounds, so you better brush up on your oinks and your baaas – each person in the car takes turns making an animal sound and the rest try to guess which animal it is! You start with the first two and then once your little one gets the hang of it, he can start doing his own. Try and get through the whole farmyard before you move on. Bonus points if you see one of the animals in a field nearby out the window!
2. Find a…
This is a question and answer game that can be played when your tots are still at the non-verbal stage, as they don’t even have to speak, they can just point! One person says, ‘Find a…horse/sheep/tractor/police car’ and the rest of you have to locate it outside, whoever finds it first wins!
3. Take on the tin foil challenge
This is a more active game, for when you want a little more concentration and a little less noise in the car! Make sure you come equipped with a roll of tin foil, and get them to take on the tin foil challenge! They have to make as many objects/animals/people out of tin foil as they can, but the focus is on quality, not quantity. If they’re stuck, ask them to look out the window for inspiration – they could make a tin foil car, a tree, or mini models of mummy and daddy! You can also play this game with pipe cleaners as they are just as malleable, but you’re more likely to have tin foil to hand at home.
4. What if?
Get your kids imaginations flowing as you play this make-believe game called ‘What If?’ You start with a ‘what if’ scenario, such as, ‘what if this car grew wings, where would we go?’ or, ‘what if Peppa Pig joined us on our journey, what would you say to her?’ Cater it to what your little one loves talking about, whether its dinosaurs, power rangers or spaceships. You’ll love hearing what they come up with.
5. 20 Questions
20 Questions is great because it lasts a while and keeps your tots entertained longer. Simply, one player thinks of a person, a place or a thing, and the rest of the car take turns asking questions that can be answered with a yes or a no. It’s a good way for your child to learn the difference between an open and a closed question, and gets them thinking outside the box to discover the answer. Get her to start, and you ask the questions, so she gets the hang of how it works and what kind of questions to ask when it’s her turn. Play continues until a player guesses correctly.
6. Counting cows
Does what it says on the tin. Get your little one to count as many cows as he can in 15 seconds, then move onto sheep, or anything else you can see in abundance, white trucks or red cars. There isn’t really a winner, but your tot can practise counting to ten (or above) and being timed is an added pressure. If he can’t count out loud yet, show him how to keep track using his fingers.
7. Silly stories
This game is like a kids version of ‘two truths and a lie’, but in the form of a story. It’s your job to tell the car a true story about something that’s happened in your life, for example, how you and daddy met, what happened on your first day at school etc. Whilst your telling the story, slip in some whoppers, e.g. and then a shark came along and nibbled daddy’s toe! At the end, ask your child to tell you which parts of the story really happened and which were untrue. It’s a great game for older toddlers who are more engaged in story telling and so able to identify when you’re dropping in a cheeky lie.
8. Guess who I am
In this game, someone pretends to be a character in a book, or a celebrity or another family member, and tells the car a little about themselves in various statements. Your tot will have to guess who you are! For example, ‘I’m a bear, I love honey and my best friend is Piglet’. They’ll have to read between the lines and call upon all their storytime knowledge to work it out!
9. What would you do?
Another game that stimulates the imagination. This time, it’s a case of ‘What would you do if…’ Make them as adventurous as you’d like, for instance, ‘What would you if you were the King or Queen of England for the day?’ You can adjust this slightly to a child-friendly version of ‘would you rather…’, for example, ‘would you rather live underwater or in space?’.
10. I Spy, with my little eye…
I spy will always be a classic, so don’t forget it in your rush to think up new and innovative games. Mix it up by choosing either ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ the car each time round.
11. Spot the yellow car!
Have an ongoing game throughout the journey to spot a yellow car, whoever spots the most by the end is the winner.
12. Car bingo
This game works best with slightly older kids who can read. Before you set off, compile a list of things that you might see on the journey (both predictable and unpredictable) and give it to your tot to take care of. Tailor it to the journey of course and wherever you are in the world. Throughout the journey, encourage your little one to find all the items on the list (red car, a pub, a castle, a fire engine, a farmer, a dog, a church, a sheep, a van, a tractor etc.) and tick them off as she goes along. If all the items are located, she will get a surprise treat at the end. It’s a great ongoing game that will keep them engaged and on the look out, and when all the items are found, they shout Bingo!
13. The quiet game
And lastly…the quiet game really is genius – in the same vein of ‘who can get into bed first’ at home, ‘who can stay quiet the longest’ will work perfectly in the car. If you have more than one child it’s even better as they will be competitive with each other. Of course, it means you can’t talk either, but relish in these moments of silence and hopefully your tot will be so exhausted from all the other games that he’ll drop off in the blissful silence.