Travelling with a tot can strike fear in the hearts of any parent. One minute, they might be giggling happily as they flip through their storybooks, the next, they are in full meltdown mode. You can side-step those sulks with a little creativity.
To up the ante and get those competitive juices going, offer a reward to the winner. Anything from 10 more minutes in the pool to an extended turn-in stay-up-late time. Remember, safety is still your top priority, so keep your eyes on the road ― always ― even as you keep them occupied. Have a go at these games, suitable for children aged 2 and above:
1) Alphabet game
Each person takes turns to propose a word for each letter of the alphabet before adding the previous player’s suggestion. For instance, you’d say A is for apple. The next person says B is for ball before repeating A is for apple. And the third adds their word for the letter C before repeating what the previous two have said.
2) What am I?
A person decides on a specific object in their minds, then proceeds to name the general category it falls under, for example: animals, plants, food. The other players then take turns to guess what the object is by asking various questions: “Does it fly?” “Does it have wings?” “Is it larger in size than a human being?” Everyone is limited to 20 questions each. After which, they must make their best guess.
3) Number-plate game
Choose a licence plate with a unique combination of letters ― for instance, SDC 123H ― then have each participant name a word which corresponds to each of these letters. “S is for sky, D is for duck, C is for cow and H is for house. To add interest to the game, pick Malaysian licence plates or those from motorbikes, private buses and goods vehicles. For older kids, make them come up with phrases instead.
To up the ante and get those competitive juices going, offer a reward to the winner.
4) I spy with my little eye…
In this all-time classic, the person names a colour by reciting the words, “I spy with my little eye, something blue…” Then everyone else looks out the window and guesses or names the things they see that ares blue in colour.
5) Name that tune
Hum a nursery rhyme or a famous TV tune and have them guess the title of the song or what show it is from!
6) Who lives there?
Get your kid to dream up what kind of people live in each of the houses you drive past. Ask questions like, “Who lives there?” “What’s their surname?” “What do they do at work?” The idea is to distract them by getting them to talk. Or try asking these questions about the passengers in the cars around yours.
For a game that’ll hone your kid’s memory skills, read on…
See who can outlast the competition and hold their breaths until you reach the other end of the tunnel. You could try singing a musical note instead — for example “laaaaaa” — if you’re afraid anyone’s going to cheat.
8) Complete that song
Play nursery tunes and turn down the volume at different parts of the song. Then, let your kiddos complete the rest of it on their own or fill in the missing bits.
9) We all went shopping and we bought a …
A good game to train your little one’s memory skills, each person will take turns to add an item after repeating the previous item on the list. For instance, you will say, “We all went shopping and we bought a spade.” The next player says, “We all went shopping and we bought a spade and a watering can.” A player loses the game when they mix up the order of the items or can’t remember them. Repeat until there’s a winner.
Remember, safety is still your top priority, so keep your eyes on the road ― always ― even as you keep them occupied.
10) Car bingo
Each person names a specific colour they are looking out for on the roads and the one to count up to 10 vehicles in that colour shouts, “Bingo!” Gradually increase the number of vehicles, from 10 to 15, or 20.
11) Two truths and a lie
This one’s a trivia lover’s dream come true! Pick a random item or living thing and name two facts and a lie about it. Let your little one pick which is false.
12) Buzz words
Choose a word that you’d see or hear over the radio and the first person to hear it on the radio or spot the word on a road sign has to shout out “buzz!” to win.
13) How long’s this red light going to take?
Armed with a stopwatch, get your kids to guess how long the car will stop at the junction. One of you — preferably not the driver! — will use the watch to keep track.
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