7 Fun Car Games for School Age Children

With the long summer holiday on the horizon, long car journeys are inevitable.  But how do you keep the small people happy in the back without having to listen to squabbles and endless cries of "Are we there yet?"  Yes, you could give everyone a tablet/console/DVD player, but why not use the time for some family fun and bonding instead?  We love a good, old-fashioned car game, and here are some of our favourites, all suitable for children of around 5/6 years plus.

The Alphabet Game

One person chooses the right-hand side of the road, and someone else the left.  Each player looks for the letters of the alphabet as they appear on road signs or car numberplates on their side.  The object of the game is to point out all the letters of the alphabet in order, from A to Z.  The first person to spot the entire alphabet wins.

20 Questions

One person secretly thinks of an animal, vegetable or object.  The other players then take turns asking yes-or-no questions, such as "Do you find it in the bathroom?" or "Can it fly?" or "Does it grow in the ground?".  The answer can only be yes or no, remember!  After the players have asked 20 questions, they must guess the answer.  You could also play with celebrities, TV or fictional characters.

The Animal Name Game

One person names an animal, then each player in order has to name another animal (no repeating!) that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named.  There are no winners or losers in this game.  With older children, try the game with TV shows, or geographical categories such as cities or countries.

The Prime Minister's Cat

This alphabet-based memory game is great for school-age kids.  Each player constructs the same sentence around a letter of the alphabet, including a name and an adjective starting with the same letter.

Starting with A, the first player might say “The Prime Minister’s cat is an awesome cat named Amy.” The second player replaces the two underlined words with others starting with A, such as, “The Prime Minister’s cat is an adorable cat named Albert.”  If a player can’t think of a new word, or if he repeats a word, he is out.  The game continues with B, C, D, and so on, until there is only one player left.  Make it easier for younger children by changing only the adjective, i.e. "The Prime Minister's cat is a little cat./The Prime Minsiter's cat is a lovely cat." etc.

Car Cricket

The rules are simple,one person at a time comes up to ‘bat’, and they score ‘runs’ when vehicles are sighted. White cars are worth one run, coloured cars are worth two runs, black cars are worth three runs, camper vans are worth four runs, and lorries are worth six runs.  Any vehicle towing anything collects an additional run.  Red cars get a player run out.  For cars to count as runs they must be moving and travelling in the opposite direction.  If you get one hundred runs, you retire.  The person with the most runs wins.

Memory Test

The first person says "A is for ---" filling in the blank with any word beginning with the letter A, such as "apple."  The second person comes up with a word for the letter B, such as "book," but must also repeat the "A" word: "A is for apple, B is for book."  Continue through the alphabet, repeating all the words each time.  By the time you reach the letter Z, that player will have to recite the whole alphabet and its corresponding words.  It's hard!!

I Went to the Market and I Bought...

This classic alphabet-based memory game is great fun.  The first player says “I went to market and I bought..." then the second player repeats what the first person said, but adds something else.  So you end up with a growing list.  If someone forgets an item, they are out - or for younger children you could all start over.  The last player to be able to recite all the items on the list wins.

You could also play traditional games like I Spy, 20 Questions, or Telephone Whispers.  Even counting the number of yellow/green cars can become very competitive - you could introduce laminated tally charts, re-usable for future journeys!

Other car journey tips:

3 Fun Car Games for Younger Children
How to Keep Your Kids Safe When Driving

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