Any good verbal games for car rides?
January 12, 2018 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Besides "I spy" -- what are some good games for kids that can be played in a car ride? (Not necessarily a long car ride) Bonus for educational games....
posted by mhh5 to Education (31 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
We do these alphabet game -
Finding the alphabet on plates and signs.
Singing "A, my name is Alice, I live in Arizona, I like alligators and I eat apples".

We also do counting games that I can't remember well.
posted by k8t at 5:09 PM on January 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

We used to do geography names - you named a country and then someone else had to name its capital (and got to pick the next country). So years after the fact I still know the capital of Tajikistan. Similarly, we played a version where you name a place starting with "A" (let's say Annapolis), then the next person has to choose a place starting with the last letter of the previous place ("Savannah!", then "Holland", etc.). You can really help people learn the names of places in China if your first place is "Aix".
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 5:12 PM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Alphabet games where you go through the alphabet and list animals that start with each letter. Or an animal with an adjective: Antagonistic Alpaca, Bellicose Baboon, Cantankerous Coral Snake...etc.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 5:14 PM on January 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I was a kid, we played Botticelli on car rides. 20 Questions is another classic one, and it's easier to explain than Botticelli.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:19 PM on January 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

License plates from different states.

One long drive, my dad taught me the military phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta...) and practiced them with me. It's been thirty+ years and I still remember all the letters! Helpful when you need to spell something over the phone.
posted by mochapickle at 5:25 PM on January 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

What's the shortest word you can form form using the letters on a license plate. Once that's easy, level up by requiring that the letters must be in the same order as appear on the plate.
posted by dws at 5:36 PM on January 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

20 questions to guess something or someone.
posted by k8t at 5:40 PM on January 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

Someone names something, and then you all have to think of the "opposite" (e.g., the opposite of vanilla ice cream might be a lightning bolt). There are no wrong answers, really, so depending on how many are playing, you might vote on the winner. Whoever wins (or whoever has a good idea, if you're not being competitive), picks the next prompt.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:41 PM on January 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I was a kid we used to play Geography. One person starts with a place name. Next player says another place name starting with the final letter of the previous name. Place names cannot be repeated. Continue until someone is stumped.

Asia -> Allentown -> New York -> Kansas -> etc. etc.
posted by Gotanda at 6:25 PM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Five letter word game. One player thinks of a five letter word, others propose five letter words, first player tells others how many letters the two words have in common, until others can guess first player's word.
posted by bullatony at 6:31 PM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ghost! Even better for siblings with a couple of other people in the round, because you have the added challenge of trying to force the losing move on each other.
posted by lucidium at 6:33 PM on January 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

The alphabet game! Apparently my family played a very different version though...

It is a competitive game. Each person goes through the alphabet individually, calling off a word they see outside the vehicle only that begins with each letter sequentially. It has to be a real word, proper nouns ok, abbreviations and acronyms not ok. For “X” only, the letter can appear anywhere in the word. No two people can use the same instance of any word, but if the word appears twice in the same vicinity (like front and back of a sign), that is ok. First person to complete the alphabet wins.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:35 PM on January 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

hinky pinky!
posted by snaw at 7:22 PM on January 12, 2018

We do a variation of the alphabet, but we do it with numbers. Anything outside the car counts but the digits must match in sequence. Gets really tricky when you hit 3 digits.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:39 PM on January 12, 2018

Someone starts with a 2 letter word. Another person adds a letter to make a 3 letter word (rearranging allowed). Next does 4 letter word, etc...

at -> cat -> tack -> track -> etc...
posted by Jacob G at 8:11 PM on January 12, 2018

20 questions

Word at a time
posted by bunderful at 8:14 PM on January 12, 2018

Guess the animal I’m thinking of. You can ask all kinds of questions but you can also limit it to yes/no answers. “Does it live in the forest? Can it fly? Does it eat meat?....”
posted by amanda at 8:24 PM on January 12, 2018

When my kids were young and I was car-less and had to take them on long walks to go shopping and their poor little legs were tired, I made up this game. Each person says a word, then everybody has to make a sentence with all three words. As you get better at it, there's strategies depending where you are in the line of saying your word (to make it harder for the others [and yourself to make a sentence], or saying your sentence, to riff off the other sentences. I suspect this game helped develop their creativity and vocabulary while not appearing to.

My dad taught us the yes/no game. One person (usually adult) is the questioner, and the other participants lose if they use yes or no, which usually forces participant into constructing and explaing more than they would, e.g. "Did you have a good day at school?" Instead of the usual "yeah, nup (both count as unacceptable)" you get responses like "it would have been more salubrious if I had remembered to take my lunch" which develops both logic and linguistic skills.
posted by b33j at 8:29 PM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mad libs. You may need to write the answers depending on the age of the kids and also they need to be old enough to know verbs from nouns. We play on most car rides of 30 minutes or more. Hilarious.
posted by gryphonlover at 8:43 PM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

We do a version of the alphabet game where everyone picks a category in advance. I may pick bodies of water or birds, the older little kids do something like food, the middle's category may be "anything," and the wee one just says random things. And then we just go around clockwise. Arctic Ocean, banana, etc.

That way everyone has a game around their level.
posted by jpe at 8:57 PM on January 12, 2018

On a super-endless drive through flat cornfields, I taught my then-7-year-old the basics of the US interstate highway numbering system (N/S - odd; E/W - even; lowest numbers on the west coast and southern coast; three-digit highways are spurs (odd leading digit) or loops/bypasses (even leading digit); important highways end in 0 or 5; etc.) And then whenever we passed a highway sign I'd ask him what he could tell about the highway from its number. ("It's an important highway ... that's a bypass ... that goes north/south ...) He had a really good time with this!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:26 PM on January 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

"What am I thinking?" It is the best car word game. It is cooperative. Two players each secretly pick a random word. Count 1...2..3... and then each say their word at the same time. Then they each think about what word the two words combined make them think of. (Example: water + sky = rain). Don't tell! Count again, then say your new word. Continue until both players say the same word at the same time. You win! Now pick two new players and start with two new random words.

The agony of near-misses and the ecstasy of nailing it after a long hard game brings lots of drama, and it is fun for the spectators in the car, too.
posted by agentofselection at 9:54 PM on January 12, 2018 [18 favorites]

Car snooker. You have to spot cars that are the same colour as the balls you want to pot: so red car, yellow, red, green, red etc. Lorries and vans help with this now that most cars are black or silver.
posted by tinkletown at 4:57 AM on January 13, 2018

Bizz-Buzz! we played with 3 and 5 but it works with any two prime numbers. Kids at a surprisingly young age can play this game.
posted by muddgirl at 6:09 AM on January 13, 2018

When I lived in Iowa we played "Cows on my side". Works best with one person looking out each side.

When you see a herd of cows on your side of the car, shout "cows on my side!" You get one point for each cow. If you pass a graveyard on your side, all your cows die and you're back to zero. If a train goes by on your side, half your cows get carted away (this happens to both players if the train crosses in front of you). If you mistake a horse for a cow, thats minus five points. Goal is to get to 100.

This works best when driving on small highways in rural areas, of course.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:27 AM on January 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've been playing Ms. Saint's "My Cows" game on road trips for almost 10 years now.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:21 AM on January 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sir Douglas Oliver Boliver is a story telling game featuring the title character, a person of immense skills of all types. The first player launches his adventure, making up a story that ends with him in some kind of life-threatening dilemma. The next person invents a way out of that peril, advances the plot and gets him into another pickle, seemingly with no way out. Repeat until all are ready to quit.
posted by carmicha at 10:29 AM on January 13, 2018

We play a chain word game, where each player says a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word. No repeats in round. The game ends when a player repeats a word or can’t think of a word. This is a long game that is easy enough for a driver to lead while paying attention to the road.
posted by crazycanuck at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2018

We're big fans of "I'm going on a picnic" which can be as easy (round foods) or as difficult (things that rhyme with a color) as you want it to be
posted by Mchelly at 3:53 PM on January 13, 2018

The Random word game. One player says a word, and everyone else says a response. The person with the fastest response that has absolutely no relation to the word wins (e.g. a winner for "salty" might be "angel")
posted by benzenedream at 10:48 PM on January 15, 2018

French toast! It's kind of a variation on 20 questions:

One person thinks of Thing. The other people take turns asking, "Is it more like french toast or more like [OtherThing]?" Person 1 responds, and then the next person asks, "Is it more like OtherThing or more like [YetAnotherThing]?" until you triangulate on Thing.

Another one I like has a bunch of names and I don't remember any of them. But it works like this:

Two people count down: "3, 2, 1..." and then together they each say any word that's in their mind. Now, using those two words, they count down again and try to say the same word that's "between" the last two words. So, for instance, one says "banana" and the other says "sled" on round 1, then on round 2, I think the obvious answer is "slip", so we say, "3, 2, 1 ... slip!" and maybe they also say slip (SUPER SATISFYING) or maybe they say "slide". Then we're trying to find the word that's between "slip" and "slide". Sometimes if the words are too close, you can wind up circling around without anywhere to go, so a good thing to do in that case is throw in a word that's farther away. Game continues until you both agree on a word, which you wind up saying together, and it's totally rewarding. This game can easily be adapted to include more people.
posted by spindrifter at 10:59 AM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

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