We live several states away from our parents, so we have done many road trips over the years. It takes two twelve-hour days by car to get there. Many years before we had portable DVD players, we found ways to entertain the kids on long trips.
Animal Guessing Game became a favorite. You think of an animal and the other players ask yes or no questions about it until they figure out what it is. Here are a few sample questions: Is it a land animal? Does it have fur? Is it bigger than a bread box? (If kids don’t know what a bread box is, you might say bigger than a toaster.) The person who is “it” has to know things about their animal like where it lives, what it eats and so on. I admit to being stumped often at this game as the animal picker’s knowledge of animal trivia grew.
On one of our trips, our daughter who was five at the time, took her turn at Animal Guessing Game. Rachel sat thinking for a minute and announced, “I got one. It’s a white bunny!.” We all chuckled as we explained that she wasn’t supposed to say it out loud.
Another game we played when the kids were very little was Messed Up Story. In order to play this game, the children have to know simple stories by heart so they can change it up. Old favorites like The Three Bears or Peter Rabbit worked well.
The story starts off with the same characters, but you change the plot as you go along. Everyone takes a turn adding to the story. This can go on and on, which is great for hours in a mini-van.
As our kids got older, we tried variations of Animal Guessing Game: Cartoon or Bible Characters.
I spent time reading aloud on several of our road trips too. I chose a children’s chapter book long enough to last the whole trip. It can be a challenge to read loud enough for everybody in the vehicle to hear, so I took breaks as needed.
When we got our first camcorder in the 80s, my husband hooked it up to a small TV powered by the DC lighter socket on the dashboard. We took stacks of VHS Disney movies on those trips, and the kids became very familiar with the dialogue. That created another game, Movie Quotes. Someone says a movie quote, and you have to guess the movie. It helps if all the players have watched the same movies.
Technology has certainly changed since those early road trips with our children. Now we have a two-screen portable DVD player hooked up whenever the grandsons travel with us. We also taught them how to play Animal Guessing Game, and my grandson Caleb often wins the round with an obscure shark I know nothing about. I draw the line when he picks a dinosaur for his animal. I told him, “You can’t choose extinct animals in this game.”
My son-in-law, Curtis taught the boys a game about threes. Name three red things you can eat, or name three kinds of trees. This game works for even very young children, if the person who is “it” asks the right questions. Grandson Connor liked the game so much that he would ask the questions whenever he rode somewhere.
The advent of cell phones and technology brought an interesting twist to our road trip games. One December our son, Stephen and his wife, Alicia planned to meet up with the family in Michigan. My daughter and her family rode with hubby, daughter Sarah and me. We left Florida about the same time our son left Oklahoma. We kept in touch by phone or text to compare our arrival times. As the miles clicked by, we decided to play Movie Quotes by texting Stephen and Alicia. We also played the License Plate Game, trying to find one from every state. Our van load competed against them, keeping track of how many we had found and texting our numbers back and forth. Stephen and Alicia arrived twenty minutes before we did and won the License Plate Game.
It’s also interesting to note that our son, Stephen taught his wife how to play Animal Guessing Game, perpetuating our family’s road trip fun.
What’s your family’s favorite thing to do on a long road trip? How has technology changed your trips?
This is Day 9 of 31 Days of Family Joy, linking up to the 31 Days event of http://www.thenester.com