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Car journeys with kids

Rhonda Marshall

No matter the age of your children, there’s always the car journey and the inevitable “are we there yet?” and “how much longer?” You can Google “how to entertain your child on a long car journey” or similar questions and find plenty of ideas, but here are a few ideas just to get you started.

Screen activities

Many parents are now opting for electronic devices such as iPads or smart phones with suitable apps downloaded and tailored for their individual child. This is definitely a winner with most children but raises other questions about screen time for children. Depending on the length of your journey and the time of day that you are travelling e.g. in the dark, parents will come to their own conclusions about how much screen time their children should have.

Did you know in New Zealand all local libraries can give you access to a free app called Libby? (pictured). Also you can find out more online at If you have a library card already you can pop into your local library and they will set you up. Libby gives you free access to books you can read, similar to a Kindle, but also has dozens of audiobooks for your listening pleasure including a range of children’s books.

Looking out the window

There are the usual games such as “I Spy” but these can be fraught with dangers such as something your child saw in the last town which was a good fifteen minutes ago!

Depending on their eyesight and ability to read number plates quickly you can play “Hunt the Alphabet” where you go through the alphabet locating A to Z or find the letters to spell out names. Set a task of counting something like yellow cars, caravans, trailers or motor homes. Have a guess as to how many you might count before reaching a certain destination.

Quiz games

There’s the “I am thinking of something” which allows players to ask you a range of questions in which you can only respond yes or no until they will narrow down their questions to identify the “something” you were thinking of.

Asking quiz questions is a great way to help build your children’s general knowledge. Again, you can Google something like “Quiz questions for children”.

Number games

You can ask passengers to add up the numbers displayed on number plates. When I was a child my parents often used car journeys as a time to learn and practice our times tables or similar. My brother, as the eldest, was learning his 7x; I was learning my 5x; whilst my younger sister was learning to count to 100. We took it in turns and once a mistake was made the turn passed to the next child.

Downloading game sheets

If you have time to prepare and access to a computer and printer, try searching “things to do activity pages for children” and narrow your search to images. There are commercially available activity books for children but selecting and printing your own from the internet can be faster. n

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