If you're faced with a long trip, having a supply of driving games for kids with you can help the miles and hours fly by. From high-tech to just the sound of your voice, the range of games for kids and cars is huge.
Types of Driving Games for Kids
The kind of driving game your child enjoys can vary - even two siblings may not like the same thing. It's a good idea to think about what game will first, catch their attention and, second, keep it long enough to distract them from the boredom of riding in a car.
One of the easiest and most recent kinds of driving games for kids involved the portable LCD screens that can be mounted on the backs of seats. Originally designed for movies, the screens also work very well with any video console game - and that's certainly a way that many kids can while away hours of time. Often you can even get cables that will hook two screens (one behind each seat) to the same console and enable the children to play along with each other.
Critics of this type of distraction point out that it misses the opportunity for the child to see new environments around him during the drive because he is focused on the TV screen. On the other hand, when playing video games at home, there is always the option to get up and go outside - but in the car, kids are a captive audience, and it could be argued that this is the perfect place to play this kind of game.
There are also a wide variety of book-based games produced specifically for driving. These can be things like word search puzzles, sudoku, "mad libs," or even as simple as coloring books. While they're easy to find, these kinds of games have one major flaw - many children (and adults) get carsick while trying to read or focus on the books during a drive. Besides that, not all kids enjoy written games - much like the seven learning styles, if your child responds better to pictures than letters, a word-search puzzle is not going to make the drive better.
It can be argued that the best games involve no books, electronics, or anything other than the brain, the eyes, and the voice. If you look at the country that you are traveling through as the source material, you can actually come up with an amazing number of games. Some of the classics include the following:
- "I Spy..." Beginning with the phrase "I spy with my little eye..." you or your child announces some characteristic of something around you (usually in the distance, to give her a chance to guess). "Something green!" might be the first clue. The other players then begin to try and figure out what exactly you're referring to - and the winning guesser gets to be the next "spy."
- "Sign Alphabet..." Taking turns, each person needs to come up with something he sees around him that begins with a letter. "A...Apple tree!" "B...Burger King!" etc. This particular game engages the children in their environment and helps build vocabulary as well.
- "Spelling Game..." A variation on the sign game, this is particularly well suited for younger children who are just learning their alphabet. You challenge them to find and spell out the longest words they can find - on the road, on buildings, even inside the car. For older kids, you can also ask them to use it in a sentence, or make up "alternative" definitions.
The advantage to these kinds of car games is that the children will not only be engaging their own imaginations and problem solving skills but also interacting with everyone else in the car. You can find many, many more games at sites such as Mom's Minivan.
The Window Is Not a TV
One technique that will not work when trying to entertain children on a long drive is to simply tell them to "look out the window." If a child is interested in what is going on outside, she will look without needing to be told; however, remember that especially for a child used to stories and action on TV, the passing countryside, regardless of how beautiful, will seem very boring. Brush up on driving games for kids that engage the child with the environment, and your driving time will become some of the most fun you ever have together.