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Road Trip: Car Games

Well, I can't guarantee these games will be the cure-all, but the more games you know the more chances you will have of hour-free fidgetiness, crankiness, and general chaos. As the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts say: “Be Prepared.” It's your best defense!

Three Strikes

Coloring books and crayons should be stored in a compartment in the back seat for safety purposes. Don't leave stuff out so it can fly around the car and hurt someone.

The history of these “car games” is virtually unknown. They are probably as ancient as procreation itself. They have been played in various ways, in various countries, in multitudes of languages for ages. There was a time, before kids had so much electronic stimuli, that parents had to be more interactive with the kids just to manage their own levels of chaos. Now, rather than let the kids zone out, this is a great opportunity to work with them—let them use their minds, their imaginations, and their creativity, rather than just passively absorb all that information technology.

Little kids will be thrilled to get your undivided attention, but you might have a bigger struggle with the teenagers. Rather than resort to plug-pulling to get them to zone in, maybe they'll see the younger kids having so much fun that they'll tune in for a few minutes to see what all the laughing is about. Their level of interest will depend on the level of the game, however. Maybe the games for little kids will spark some of their own memories and they'll want to teach their younger siblings a thing or two.

High Score

You'll need some kind of storage to keep the back seat safe, neat, and organized. You can buy the storage pouch that attaches to the back of the front seat. This way the kids will have easy access to what they need and you can keep everything tidy and safe in the process.

The I Spy Games

I Spy is one of the first car games your kids will probably ever learn. It's the kind of game you start playing with kids long before the first car trip. You may have played it for the first time with your little one in the doctor's office—when you were waiting … and waiting … for your name to be called. It might be one of the first games that pops into your head to keep your child from getting bored. It's a great game to play one-on-one or in a group.

Three Strikes

Never remove a seat belt from a child to play a game.

I Spy with One Child

If you're playing with one child, you start by saying “I spy with my little eye, something that is …” and fill in with a color. The child is then required to guess what it is you're looking at. You can pick any color, of course. It's a great way to help your child build an understanding of colors.

High Score

You can play I Spy with more than one child very easily. One person goes first and the first person to guess the object gets to spy the next object.

When the child guesses the object, it is then the child's turn to “spy” something. You keep going back and forth, alternating turns.

If the child is a little bit older, you can use letters. “I spy with my little eye, something starting with the letter B.” If the child knows some basic reading skills, you can easily play this game with him or her.

If one of you never guesses the object and “gives up,” the person who did the spying gets to take another turn.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


September 1, 2014



Don't forget to hydrate! Forego sugary juices and sodas and pack a bottle of water in your child's lunch. If your child likes a little more flavor, spice it up with lemon, lime, cucumbers, or fresh fruit.


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