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car games for kids to play

Travel in Peace with These Car Games for Kids

Oh, the road trip—has ever a mode of travel been so romanticized? From 3 Idiots to Finding Fanny, from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to Piku, long car rides with friends or family can be an adventure like no other.

Of course, in real life, they can also be the ninth circle of hell. Nothing starts a holiday on a sour note like a bored child in the backseat. Because cranky children make for cranky adults, here are some car games for kids to play while you hold onto the shreds of your sanity and count the kilometers.

Fun car games for kids to play en route to wherever

Bubble wrap it up (Ages 3 to 6)

While this might sound too simple to be a car ride game, you’d be surprised at how long kids can be entertained from the satisfying pop of plastic packaging. This pastime is cheap, recyclable and self-sustaining. Pretend the popping is rain and grab a few Z’s in the front seat (assuming you’re not driving).

Spot that car! (Ages 4 to 7)

A straightforward, competitive game, start by picking a colour (and model — like SUV or van — for more difficulty) that each player must spot. Make sure the colour isn’t too common (there’s no novelty in black) or too rare (your kids will get bored waiting for the 1-in-500 purple car). Players look out the window to spot a car and earn a point.  Appoint one person to keep a tally of each players’ sightings. This is one of those car ride games that can go on (and on and on) until the participants are bored. The winner can be rewarded with a candy bar or other small treat.

This game requires at least two players, so you’ll have to volunteer if you only have one kiddo in tow.

I Spy (Ages 4 to 8)

This is one of the most classic kids’ games for a reason — it’s the generalist of travel games. I Spy works for car trips, train journeys or flights. The Spy secretly picks an object that all the players can see, without revealing what it is. The spy makes statements starting with “I spy with my little eye…” and containing a clue like “… something large and blue.” The other player(s) have to guess what the object is. On a flight, clothing items and belongings of other passengers, door handles and other easily visible objects make for good spying. On cars and trains, it is better to stick to objects inside, since the scenery may whiz by too fast for children to notice. Don’t keep your child guessing; swap roles and let the kids play spy, too.

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Bump road drawing (Ages 4 to 8)

Ideal for off-the-beaten-track road journeys, as the name suggests, give your child a sheet of blank paper and a crayon and instruct her to hold the crayon tip to the paper, especially when approaching a bumpy spot on the road. The car travels, the crayon will naturally bump along the paper, creating a design. (It’s one of the better, distracting car games for kids whose stomachs get unsettled on bad roads.) For older kids, have them hold four or five crayons at a time for a multi-coloured version.

Car ride karaoke (All ages)

A modern take on the classic Antakshri, makes the kilometers fly by when the novelty of the open road begins to wear out. Play songs and sing along with your child (for maximum fun, create a playlist of your kid’s favourite songs ahead of time). Every so often, hit the pause button to test his or her memory of the lyrics and to draw out the game. This game can last as long as your child’s lungs and is fun for all ages and musical abilities. After all, half the fun is in channeling your inner Raffi (or Brian Adams), even if you can’t carry a tune.

Happy – and peaceful – travels!

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