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Fun kids games for car journeys; car games for children and families – no toys needed!

Fun kids games for car journeys; car games for children and families – no toys needed! 2018-07-24 17:12:36

Below are various ideas for games to play with children on long car journeys; no toys or props required! So put away the electronic toys and portable DVD players and get the whole family having interactive fun in the car. The aim is not to win but to enjoy the journey and make the time move faster, with no little voices saying ‘Are we there yet?’!

Would you like to earn £10.00 to spend with us at Smart Start Toys? If you have a tried and tested car game for children that could be included here please email us at Smart Start Toys with details of your game. Please include any details of yourself that you would like credited to the game (e.g. Submitted by Samantha Crewe, Mum of Sarah (2), Mathew (5) and Lizzy (8).) If we publish your game you will receive £10.00 credit to spend on toys.

Spot the car

Various varieties of this game are possible. Car colours; makes of car; types of vehicle (scooter, motorbike, car, truck, campervan etc); number of wheels etc. The first person to see the category chosen wins a point. A time limit can be given. The person with the most points at the end of the time limit wins. This is a game for children more than adults but any age could play!

20 questions

This is a tried and tested game for all the family. One person is chosen to be ‘it’. He / She must think of an object. They are then asked if it is animal, vegetable or mineral. Animal includes anything made from animals e.g. it could be a cat or a woollen sweater. Vegetable includes anything made of natural materials e.g. a wooden table and mineral is anything non-natural (made by man). In this family game everyone has 20 chances at asking questions to work out the thing that has been chosen – they can only ask questions with yes/no answers. The person that guesses correctly is the next person to think of an object.

I Spy

This is a very popular game and great for young children to practice early spelling skills.  Someone says ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘_’; the first person to guess the word correctly wins the game and chooses the next object.


An oral version of this popular game is possible and is great for the memory and for spelling practice! One person thinks of a word – easier words for younger children – the rest of the family guess at letters and is given 13 chances. As letters are guessed correctly the person who has chosen the word must say where that letter is in the word. If the word is long, children are young or memories are short one person could write the letters used on a piece of paper.  The person who guesses the complete word is the next to choose a new word.

Tic Tac Toe

An oral version of the written tic tac toe game with players saying in which square the cross or circle is to be placed. This is great for memory practice and practice of lefts and rights! Alternatively breathe heavily on the window and ‘write’ the grid on the glass!

Telling stories

Chain stories can be interesting and fun. The first person begins with a word or a phrase which is continued with the next person providing a word or phrase to create a continuing story. This is great for mixed ages, adults and children and mixed abilities.

The ABC Game / Alphabet Game

The object is to be the first to complete the alphabet.  Look out for letters on signs and number plates; shout it out and point to it. Once a letter has been spotted other players cannot use the same letter. On signs with lots of writing and letters only one letter can be used. A variation of this abc game would be for everyone to go through the alphabet together, so it is not a competition but purely for fun.

The Song / Music Game

All children love music and this game can put those musical skills to practice. Someone hums a tune – it can be anything – theme song to a film / TV show/ pop song etc. the one who guesses correctly does the next song. This can be adapted to drumming/tapping a beat / rhythm of a tune.

Category game

Great game for spelling practice / letter sounds. Choose a category – e.g. animals, cities, fruit, toys etc. The first person names an animal e.g.  Dog, the second names an animal beginning with the last letter of the previous word – giraffe – elephant – tiger – rhino – oranguatan – newt etc etc

The Animal Noise Game

When an animal is spotted the player must make the noise of that animal – points are given to the person who first spots the animal, up to an agreed amount of about 10, when the game starts again. A treat could be given to the winner each time. This game can be a lot of fun especially in farming areas, as the car becomes an orchestra of animal sounds. cow--moo!, horse-neigh, cat-meow.... Etc. 

I went shopping and I bought…..

This game is great for the memory and practice of beginning letter sounds! One player begins by stating, "I went to the market and I bought (something with the letter A; e.g., apples). The next player states, "I went to the market and I bought apples and a book (something beginning with ‘b’). This continues with a reciting of the entire list each time until someone can not remember or gets it wrong and are out. 
But you can be nice and give younger children clues to help! It doesn’t matter about winning – the game is fun in itself and makes the drive go more quickly.
For older children/ teenagers this could be changed to pop/rock bands. E.g. I went to the music shop/ HMV and bought a CD by… or a song called… or an album called…

Bad Dog; Brave Dog; Barking Dog

This game is great for learning new descriptive words and practising words already known.
Choose a category/ pet / animal/ place/ building/ food
Everyone must have a go at describing the object by going through the alphabet starting with ‘a’ 
E.g. (Cat/ ‘a’) 1st person says: ‘My sisters cat is an annoying cat’; 2nd person says ‘ My sisters cat is an arty cat’; 3rd person: ‘My sisters cat is an atrocious cat’ and so on until someone gets stuck, when the players continue onto the next letter. 
If the subject gets boring it can be changed at any time.

Mystery Writing

One child holds out a hand palm up and closes his eyes while the other child "writes" or “draws” on his hand with her finger. The first child must guess what the second person is writing. It can be just letters, or whole words, depending on ages of the children. This is great for spelling practice too!

"Guess how far away that is"

A great game for practicing metres and miles. Pick an object in the distance and have everyone guess how far away it is in miles, then clock it on your odometer. Take turns picking the object or let the winner pick. This needs pretty flat landscape to be able to pick something at a distance.


This game is great for children’s creativity and helps teach kids to see the bright side of things in a fun way. An adult or older child starts with a sentence about something that is not very good but a bit ridiculous e.g., "Unfortunately, there's a crocodile in the car." A child (boy) says, "Fortunately, he doesn't eat boys." The next child says ‘Unfortunately, he's looking at me and licking his lips." You say, "Fortunately, his back teeth have fallen out’ Next: ‘Unfortunately his front ones are still very sharp’ Next ‘ Fortunately I have brought a large jaw clamp’ And so on, switching between fortunate and unfortunate things.


This is classic traditional children’s game. Players each have one palm face up and as they count to three, pound their other fist into their hand. On "three", they turn the fist into either a rock (a closed fist), paper (an open palm), or scissors (two fingers in a sideways V shape). A rock wins by breaking scissors, paper wins by wrapping around the rock, and scissors win by cutting paper. If they both come up with the same shape, they go again. 

Who Am I?

Children think of someone they know, friend or relative. The other players can ask up to 10 questions before guessing whom the person is. The questions can ask anything about the person – looks, where they live, hobbies etc. But everyone in the car needs to know or know of that person.

Map Reading

Give your children a copy of a map of where you are going with major towns and landmarks. Help them mark the route with a crayon as you go. If your child asks 'Are we there yet?' ask them to get out their map and work it out for themselves. Alternatively print out directions from Google maps and ask your child to tell you where to go!

For very young children draw a very simple map with landmarks, mileage between towns etc. A hand drawn map gives a clearer pictur eof how far there is still to go.

Virtual Hide and Seek

Use your house to hide in - the children can be any size and so fit into any space; a jam jar; a key hole; a teddy bear, under the right side of the kitchen chair nearest the radiator etc. Children ask each other questions to narrow it down from the room, to the area to the furniture, to the object or place. A limit can be set to the numnber of questions allowed.

Magnetic Board Games/Wipe Clean Games

These are perfect for car journeys - all in one game packs or classic stand alone games. Car versions are good as they are compact, have magnetic or velcro backed game pieces and have places to store small items.

Counting Cows

Count the cows on your side of the car. If you pass a cemetry you lose all your cows! This game gets interesting when distraction tactics are used to cause your opponent to miss seeing cows or to pretend to miss seeing a cemetry. This game can be played with almost anything - sheep, blue vans, red cars, signs, billboards, people with hats etc.

Classic Board Games

Travel games such as monopoly, chess, scrabble and battleships are firm favorites. These games will help take away the hours of travelling.

The Alphabet Game

Start with 'A' and find it on a sign, number plate, truck or building, say the word and pass on to 'b' . The game can be played as a competiton individually or in teams.

Practice a Foreign language

If you are travelling in France or going to Spain, practice sopme of the langauge. Everyone must use please and Thank you and can not speak unless they try to use the  foreign language. Take some vocabulary tapes with you or wipe clean cards. Here are a few products to help with French learning.

Have a spelling Bee

See who can spell the most words correctly, suitable for their age and ability. For younger children this wipe clean Alphabet Place Mat is a good source for practicing spelling.

Lines and Dots

This game can keep older kids amused for ages. Make a grid oin a pice of paper of dots. Each player takes it in turns to draw a line between two dots (not diagonal) and must be next to each other - if a player makes a square then they write their initials in the square and get an extra turn. The winner of the game is the child with the most squares.

Lego Contest

Have a competition to see who can build the best item out of lego that relates to where you are going. Use a shoe box to store the lego pieces or a draw string bag. Of course there is nothing like a new set of Lego or building blocks to keep the kids happy.

Have a puppet show.

Children love puppets, these can be hand puppets, finger puppets or marionettes. Theshow can be practiced in the car and performed in the hotel/destination. Adults can use the puppets to talk to the children with, to make the journey more fun.