Five Educational Car Ride Games That Are Fun for the Whole Family

By Sher Warkentin in Thinking Sustainably

The moment you hit the road for a family vacation, you’ll inevitably hear four words emanate from the back seat: “Are we there yet?” Before you reach for those iPads, do something a little different. Try one of these car ride games that playfully teach kids about the environment you’re traveling through.

1. Spelling Bee

Spelling contests make great road trip games for kids, as your children can enjoy some competitive fun and get their brains working to pass the time. Before you hit the road, create a list of words that are age-appropriate, related to sustainability, and reflect your surroundings. As you drive, take turns spelling words from the list out loud (bonus points if kids can also give a definition for the word).

2. Eco Bingo

Play eco bingo with sustainable items like plug-in car stations.
Bingo isn’t just a camp classic; with homemade boards you can also use the game to teach kids about sustainability. Make your own by drawing out a grid of squares five boxes wide and long, and photocopy the finished product for every passenger. As you prepare for your trip, let your kids fill in the squares with drawings of eco-friendly items you might find along the road, like sustainable transportation (bikes, hybrid cars, buses), natural resources (forests, rivers, lakes), and even blue recycling bins at rest stops or electric vehicle plug-in stations. As you travel, call out any items you spot on your trip and use a stamp to mark it off on the grid. The first person to fill a row wins and can pick the next game!

3. License Plate Game

Geography skills are a great foundation for an understanding of the environment. This game will keep kids busy and familiarize them with some basic state facts. Print out a map of the United States for your kids. Every time you come across an out-of-state license plate, color in the state on the map. Want to make the game more challenging for older kids? Leave the states blank so that they have to color in the correct space on their own. When you fill in a state, you can talk about what makes that state special and how people can work to protect its environment. This is one of the best car ride games for lengthy travel that takes you across multiple states.

Car ride games like the license plate game can teach kids about sustainability on the road

4. Counting Cars

Another fun car ride game that’s easy enough for younger kids to enjoy is car counting. There are a few variations to this game, but to keep it focused on the green scene, pick vehicles to count that are eco-friendly, like hybrids, plug-ins, and buses. Each player picks one type of vehicle to count, and whoever reaches a set number first is the winner.

5. Twenty Questions

Play an eco-friendly version of this classic game by making it a rule that each answer has to relate to sustainability or the environment—a recycled can or solar panels, for instance. Play the game as you normally would, taking turns to ask yes or no questions in order to guess the answer. Your kids will be able to practice their understanding of sustainability as they come up with their own ideas and questions.

All of these games are great conversation starters for you to talk more about the importance of protecting the environment and our natural resources in an entertaining and kid-friendly way. If you still need more ideas to fill your time, put an environmental spin on some of your traditional car ride games, like I Spy.

What are your kid’s favorite car games? We’d love to here about some new ideas and old classics on Twitter!

Image sources: Sher Warkentin | Flickr | Flickr

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Long car trips are a summer vacation staple, but before you reach for the iPad to keep the kids entertained, take the opportunity to learn something while you keep the whole family occupied. When you head out on the road this summer, try some of these educational car ride games that will make the trip fly by while your kids beat that summer brain drain.