Suggest travel games for children
September 14, 2004 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I would like some suggestions for travel games for children. Ideally, they would be games that could be played in a moving vehicle (i.e., no getting up and moving around), and they would not require any equipment or materials. Guessing and wordplay games along the lines of Twenty Questions would be ideal.
posted by orange swan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen this?

Also, I know you said "no equipment or materials", but I love the small, inexpensive Magnadoodles for car use. No wasted paper or lost crayons, and they can be used to kill time, to keep score, to play Pictionary, etc.
posted by padraigin at 8:10 AM on September 14, 2004

My favorite is The Alphabet Game - just find words that begin with every letter of the alphabet, in order, and shout 'em out. We drive home from the beach a certain way every time, and there's a street named Xanadu. Believe me, everyone waits for it, and everyone in the car screams XANADU! at the same exact moment.

You can also play The Alphabet Game with objects, which I think is a lot more fun, as people try to interpret what they've seen, and try to wow you with their vocabulary skills. That way, a baby carriage becomes a stroller, a pram, a surrey, or whatever you like. Lots of fun, both for kids and for adults.

A variation - one person says a letter of the alphebet, and the kids try to find a set number of objects that begin with that letter.

My favorite game of all, when I was a kid, is impossibly lame, but for some reason I found it eternally fascinating - maybe your kids will too. Someone assigns everyone in the car the task of being the first to spot a certain color car. That's pretty much it. You have to pick an unusual color, say orange, or purple, and decide if any and all vehicles count, or just cars, or trucks, or vans, or whatever. See, it's getting more complicated... Anyway, this never failed to entertain and enthrall me as a kid. This game works well for kids who can sit still, and who have a lot of competitive spirit.

Then there's always The License Plate Game, although I suppose you need paper and pencil for that.

I strongly advise the adults to visit a few of the oodles of trivia sites on the net, and print out some good questions, along the lines of 'name the seven dwarfs', 'name the continents', or 'what are the plants in our solar system'. Nothing beats trivia games.
posted by iconomy at 8:20 AM on September 14, 2004

Er that would be 'name the planEts'. Naming the plants would take a lot longer ;)
posted by iconomy at 8:22 AM on September 14, 2004

counting cars of a certain colour. kept me amused for hours. advanced play: if someone chooses red, the other player can choose two colours.

searching for number plates with 1, then 2, etc.

i vaguely remember a cricket-themed game with two people looking for different things, either to score runs or get the other out. i'm sure you could invent something (change cricket for baseball if necessary).
posted by andrew cooke at 8:24 AM on September 14, 2004

I forgot one - Competitive Hand Waving. The kids take turns waving at people in other cars, while someone else counts how long it takes to get someone to wave back. The kids take turns trying for the best time. This can be pretty hilarious, just to watch the expressions on the people in the other cars, and to watch the escalated antics that the kids will go through to get other people to wave back.
posted by iconomy at 8:31 AM on September 14, 2004

There are a bunch of different games possible, depending on the age group of the children.

For the very young, there's the "Count up different state license plates" game -- preferably with reward at the end.

My favorite was 'GHOST' (I believe that's the name of the game). It goes something like this: one person starts by saying a letter. The next person thinks of a word that begins with that letter, and says the next letter. The thing is, as each turn is taken, there are less and less words to choose from.

Let's say I start with the letter 'A'. Next person says 'P'. Next person says 'P' again. Now, there are only a few words that start with "A-P-P'. If you can't think of another letter, you lose. When you lose the first time, you "get a G". Next time, you "get a H". Until you get 'GHOST', when you're completely out of the game.

There are a couple of fun things about this game: the first is trying to nail someone by deliberately choosing a letter to isolate a single word that will 'GHOST' someone. So, for instance, if there are four people playing, and the letters already used are 'O-T-H', the fourth person could nail the first person by picking 'E' (since just about the only word that starts with 'OTHE' is 'OTHER').

The other fun part about the game is bluffing. If a person picks a letter that couldn't possibly form a word, you can challenge them. If they fail to come up with a word, they lose a point. BUT -- and here's the fun part -- they may have a word in mind that you just haven't thought of! If you challenge a person, and they come up with a word, YOU lose a point.

Anyway, fun and edumacational stuff.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:34 AM on September 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

We used to play a game where you named a famous person.

"Oprah Winfrey"

The next person had to come up with a new name starting with the first letter of the last name. Thus, "William Hung." If a name had the same letters in first and last, like following Hung up with Harry Houdini, the pecking order reversed.

GHOST is great.
posted by pedantic at 8:36 AM on September 14, 2004

Another adaption of GHOST is as soon as you spell out a legititmate word, you lose that round. e.g. - If the letters thus far are 'HIG', if you pick an 'H', you lose the round, even if you were thinking about 'HIGHWAY'. There's a four-letter minimum when you play this way, of course, otherwise people would constantly be losing (think of how many words begin with 'TO', for example).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:38 AM on September 14, 2004

pedantic -- That was the other game I was thinking about! The big rule with that game is: no repeats! You can make it easier by allowing for fictional characters. You can also adapt it to use only a particular subject -- Cities, for example. If you're really clever, you can be even more specific. 'Southeast-Asian places' for example. So if I say, "Bangkok" you can follow with "Kuala Lampur," which could be followed by "Lombok".
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:43 AM on September 14, 2004

Whoops, that example's wrong. Bangkok -- followed by Kuala Lampur -- followed by, say, 'Rinca' (in Indonesia). 'R' is a real killer -- there just aren't a lot of places in SEA that begin with 'R'.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:46 AM on September 14, 2004

GHOST is my all-time favorite roadtrip game!

I just had to say that.
posted by widdershins at 9:24 AM on September 14, 2004

the version we play is just like that but it can be any place name. always get stuck with lack of A places.

ie: maryland -> denmark -> korea -> alaska ->?
posted by ShawnString at 9:33 AM on September 14, 2004

We played "Horses". It is for two players, one on each side of the car.

Each player counts the number of horses he or she sees on their side of the highway. When a cemetery is passed, the player on that side of the car goes back to zero.

The great thing about it is that it goes on until you reach your destination.
posted by rocketman at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2004

We mostly played auto bingo and license plate games which require paper and pencil. However a variant on license plate games is to look at a plate and try to find the longest word or phrase that uses all the letters that are on that plate. This can have variants such as "...uses all the letters IN ORDER" "uses all the letters IN ONE WORD." Another game we'd play that's pretty much good anywhere [and easy to vary for different age kids] is Hink Pink where one person thinks of two words that rhyme and gives a little description of those words and a clue to how many syllables the answer contains

"I'm thinking of a very heavy feline. Hink Pink" [one syllable words]
"I'm thinking of some jam that has an offensive odor. Hinky Pinky" [two syllable words]

You can dress up this game using nonesense words or varying number of syllables to mix them up, make it harder or easier. Kids can pretty much play along as solvers or puzzle-makers since it's pretty straightforward.
posted by jessamyn at 9:55 AM on September 14, 2004

Here are two ADVANCED games for older children (and adults).

(1) JUST A MINUTE. This is based on the venerable BBC quiz show.

Someone comes up with a topic, and then the first player has to make a speech about the topic. The goal is to try to talk for one minute straight about it. You're out if you hesitate, deviate or repeat words (other than simple words like "the" and "and").

Here are some examples, in which the topic is "ice cream."

Player 1: For as long as I can remember, I've always loved ice cream. My favorite flavor is ... um ... vanilla and...

Player 2: OUT!!! Hesitation!

[Player 2 now takes over. If player 1 managed to talk for 20 seconds, Player 2 now gets to try for the rest of the minute (50 seconds). At the end of a round, the player with the most seconds wins that round. Players get to take over the topic if they spot a mistake in someone else's speech.]

Player 2: I used to go to this ice cream store with my dad, and there was this guy who worked in the store on weekends who...

Player 3: OUT!!! Repetition of the word "store"!

[Player 3 now takes over, but there's only 15 seconds of the minute left...]

Player 3: I like to put whipped cream on the top of my ice cream. And cherries. But I hate nuts. Well, I do like cashews. My grandmother used to have this bowl of cashews...

Player 2: OUT!!! Deviation: he's speaking about nuts instead of ice cream!

[It works well if you have a judge who can arbitrate (Player 3 might not agree that he deviated). Or you can vote. To play this really stricktly, you need a stopwatch, but it's also just fun to forget the timing and try to talk as long as you can on a topic without getting called out for breaking the rules.]

(2) THE QUESTION GAME. Which was probably invented by Tom Stoppard for the play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead." Try to have an entire conversation with questions only. No rehetorical questions allowed. No non-sequitors allowed. No repeating the last person's question.

A: How are you today?

B. Well, how do you think I am?

A: Are you happy?

B: Do I look happy?

A: Why don't we stop talking about emotions?

B: OUT!!! Rhetorical!

A: How are you today?

B: How are you today?

A: OUT!!! Repeat!

A: Do you want to stop for a break?

B: What kind of a break?

A: How about a coffee break?

B: How do you take your coffee?

A: How do you think I take it?

B: Do you take it with sugar?

A: Do you look like the kind of guy who takes sugar in his coffee?

B: I don't know.

A: OUT!!! Statement!

A: How are you today?

B: Would you like something to eat?

A: OUT!!! Non-sequitor!
posted by grumblebee at 10:07 AM on September 14, 2004 [3 favorites]

"Story." You see someone/something, and go around in a round of turns, and each person makes up a story about them/it, that leads up to (and possible past) their/its current condition.
posted by weston at 10:24 AM on September 14, 2004

Slug Bug. You get to punch your sibling on the shoulder every time you see a Volkswagen Beetle first.

Or maybe not...
posted by deborah at 10:33 AM on September 14, 2004

It's a bit like the alphabet game, as mentioned above, but I've always been a fan of "going on a picnic." Someone begins, "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm bringing ..." and then names an item beginning with "A." The next person says, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing [the A-letter item] and [a new B-letter item]" and so on. Challenges the memory, especially if you try to recite the items as quickly as possible.

Also, you don't have to go on a picnic, you can go to the moon instead. But those are the only two acceptable destinations. ;)
posted by uncleozzy at 10:36 AM on September 14, 2004

To the moon, Alice!

Another variation of The Alphabet Game is The Minister's Cat. Everyone simply takes turns completing the sentence "The minister's cat is a ______ cat", filling in with an adjective (or whatever) starting with a, and then b, and then so on. You'd be surprised how many words start with the letter X.
posted by iconomy at 11:42 AM on September 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

There's another variation on the naming games which I remember: someone names a geographic place, let's say "Maine." The next person has to name a place which begins with the last letter of the place named, "England," for example, and so forth.
posted by Songdog at 11:49 AM on September 14, 2004

Wow. I've got to try out GHOST and the Just A Minute game. Here's a fun variant of 20 questions that's a bit trickier. It's called Coffeepot. (I may be missing rules, but I think this is the general idea:)

One person thinks of a verb. The other person starts asking questions to narrow down what that verb might be. However, all questions must include the word "coffeepot" to describe how the verb might be used. Example : I pick my coffeepot as "to run." My opponent might then ask, "Can I coffeepot at school?" And I would say ... yes. "Is coffeepotting rewarded?" And I would say ... depends. Etc. It's a bit more interesting than 20 questions and is often hilarious, esp. to the person who has picked the coffeepot in the first place.
posted by Happydaz at 12:30 PM on September 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

yet another variation on the alphabet game is 'In My Grandmothers Attic'.

"in my grandmothers attic i found an [A word]"
"in my grandmothers attic i found an [A word] and a [B word]"
repeating all the way through Z. my husband and i have been known to play this on long road trips, but we go through the alphabet twice (or more if we are doing well). its really hard to remember 52 items in a row like that.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:29 PM on September 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

The Connection Game kept the SO and I amused for days while we painted the house. The object is to connect names of novels, movies, T. V. shows, comics, rock bands, famous people, etc. by last word- first word. The tough part is the speaker has to say all the connections named thus far before giving his answer.

Example: Michael Jackson -- Jackson Brown -- Brown-Eyed Girl -- Girls Gone Wild -- Wild Kingdom

The next person would have the option of connecting from either end, Something Michael or Kingdom Something.

The best, most advanced play comes when you only link the first syllable or two (Wild Kingdom -- Dom Perignon -- None but The Lonely.) This makes remembering the connections much harder.

We could keep this up for hours. Often we would help each out on the memory part because we didn't want to break the chain.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:27 PM on September 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

It took two and a half hours for someone to mention Slug Bug? Bad MeFi, bad!
posted by neckro23 at 5:46 PM on September 14, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone.
posted by orange swan at 1:57 PM on September 15, 2004

i'm really into the original Trivial Pursuit (Genus). one thing i like to do is bring along just the cards. then you compete to see who can get the most questions right on a card. another way to keep score is just keep a running tally of how many questions each person gets right.

for kids, back on topic, choose any of the quiz games they like. eg, my twins like Disney Trivia :-(. many times they like to start making up their own questions (they are 5). helps pass the time, and it's good for their brains.
posted by Sean Meade at 11:45 AM on September 28, 2004

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