Time spent in the car with your child can be one of the most valuable times you share together – time to bond, time to relate and communicate and time to learn. Here are some games for you to play when you are able to. (On those days when you are not on automatic pilot and all you need to do is get home!)

  • I Spy – the old favourite! “I spy with my little eye something beginning with” and name the sound of a letter of the alphabet (e.g. zzz) or later the name of the letter of the alphabet (e.g. zed). Keep the objects within the car!

  • Good News/Bad News – “Tell me about your day – what was the best thing that happened? The worst thing?” If you get “Nothing” at first, limit the discussion area, “Tell me about the story you had today. What did you and Sally do today?”
  • Storytime – make up a story together, with each person adding a line or a portion of the story in turn.
  • Counting – count cars (Remember Car Cricket? The child scores runs by counting cars and then goes out when an identified car, e.g. a Volkswagen Beetle, drives by!) Give your child simple sums to do (starting with sums that can be counted on the fingers! You select the numbers. Later the child can pose problems for others in the car. ) You can also add house numbers or number plate numbers as he becomes more proficient.
  • Pairs can also be identified – either the same make of car or cars of the same colours.
  • A questionable counting game is Punch Buggy – the child can punch another when she sees a Beetle and the punch buggies can be saved for later (that is where the counting comes in)! Maybe Kiss Buggy is a more humane option but older children love the punching variety!
  • Signs – ask your child to identify familiar signs in the environment, e.g. Pick and Pay or Engen, etc.
  • Letters – Think of a word that starts with the same letter as that number plate; later on this can develop into a spelling game, e.g. if a number plate has LGH in it the child can think of a word that has those letters in it, in that order, e.g. light. With older children, you can nominate the length of the word, e.g. four letters or more. Another variation is to Think of 5 things that start with the letter or 5 girls names or 5 sports, or whatever. This can later be developed into General Knowledge when each person in the car nominates a category. One person says the letters of the alphabet silently. On Stop the letter to be used in that round is identified. You need a scorer for this game with a pen and a piece of paper: 10 points are awarded for original answers and 5 points for shared answers.
  • Colour Mixing – as cars go by the child can either mix two cars, e.g. red and white = pink or they can tell you how a grey car (black and white) got to be that colour. These games work well in combination.
  • Discussions – ahead of time the family chooses discussion topics that are written onto scraps of paper and kept in the ashtray. Then from time to time, a topic is drawn and everybody can chat about it. Kids love the whole process, from picking the topics to each making a contribution.

The car is also a great place to talk about more serious issues without the child feeling as if it is a big deal! Have fun!