8 Screen-Free Car Games

8 Screen-Free Car Games

By Kathryn Peck

Long road trips with little ones can be hard. Kids get antsy; they get bored. Every summer, on Memorial Day, my family launches the annual license plate game, where we try to spot all 50 license plates before Labor Day hits. Now that a few of my kiddos are old enough to get involved, it’s been a game changer for road trips. I arm them each with a dry erase board and marker, and we start looking.

When kids start arguing? I suddenly spot a car from New Jersey driving by and it redirects everyone’s attention. “How much longer?” someone whines, and I suddenly spot a car from Georgia! They like identifying the license plates and crossing them off, and admittedly, I like the help and the comradery.

If you’ve read our blog about 5 must-have items for your road trip with kids, you might be ready to go. But if you’re up for the challenge, before turning on the tunes or pulling out the screens, try a few of these screen-free road trip games. You might be surprised how much time passes when you’re looking for a Hawaii license plate.   

  1. The License Plate Game. Can you spot the license plates from all 50 states?

  2. Guess Who Game. This was our babysitter’s favorite game. One person thinks of a movie character and names a few characteristics, and the others have to guess who it is. “I have long white hair and I like things very cold,” I might say. (Elsa, of course!)

  3. The Alphabet Game. As a team, try to spot things outside of the car that start with the letter A, then B, then C, and so forth.

  4. Name That Tune. One person hums a tune, and everyone else tries to name it. The first person to guess correctly hums the next song.

  5. Would You Rather? This one always gets laughs. Take turns asking silly questions like, “would you rather stub your toe or step on a Lego?” and everyone takes turns answering.

  6. Counting. Pic something that you might see often outside your window, like a cow. When a cow is spotted, the first person to “moo” gets a point. For an added twist, if you pass a cemetery, one person shouts “your cows are buried” and then others lose their points.

  7. I Spy. A classic game for good reason. One person spots something and says, “I spy with my little eye something [pick a descriptive word].” It could be something green, something in the sky, etc. Everyone has to guess what it is.

  8. Picnic Game. This is like an add-on story. One person starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring an Apple.” Then the next person says it, but they have to say they’re bringing something that starts with the letter B; then C, then D, and so on throughout the whole alphabet.


About the author: Kathryn is the owner of Bicycle Pie and mom of 4 little ones. Also a writer, editor, and former owner of one of Boston's premiere baby boutiques, she continues to write about motherhood, children's products, family life, and all other things that test our skills and patience as parents.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Imgorthand 

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