Long car rides are unpleasant. It seems as though they shouldn’t be any more unpleasant than just sitting in a chair for a long time. However, Mental Floss says certain factors enable long car rides to have more of an effect on people. For example, car passengers need to constantly adjust their positions because cars are constantly starting, stopping, and otherwise changing their movements.
Similarly, the sheer monotony of the road can cause people to become bored and unfocused. Kids tend to be worse than adults at enduring unpleasant situations. As a result, it is important to make sure that they have something interesting to do while they are stuck on a long car ride.
Here are 20 awesome car activities for kids:
1. Read a Book
Books are a classic solution for people who are stuck on a long car ride. Conveniently, there is a wide range of books aimed at a wide range of people. That is true even when the intended audience consists of kids rather than adults.
2. Listen to an Audiobook
With that said, reading isn’t necessarily the best way for people to take in a book’s contents while stuck on a long car ride. Some people get motion sickness when they try to read while riding in a motor vehicle. Scientific American says this is because different senses are telling their brains different things. Their eyes say they are still. In contrast, their ears say they are in constant motion. As a result, some people become disoriented because of that clash. When this is the case, listening to an audiobook is a much better way of taking in its contents than trying to read its text-based counterpart.
3. Listen to Music
There is a wide range of music aimed at kids. Due to this, listening to music is another great way for kids to pass the time while stuck on a long car ride.
4. Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are flourishing as a medium. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wired says there is a wide range of podcasts covering a wide range of subjects aimed at kids rather than adults. For example, National Geographic Kids has a podcast called Greeking Out that tells Greek mythology stories, though in a much more sanitized form because the originals are not suitable for kids’ ears.
Meanwhile, Tinkercast has a podcast called Who, When, Wow! that focuses on somewhat famous historical figures deserving of more recognition. Other podcasts range from the folk tale-focused Circle Round to the science-focused But Why. Whatever kids are interested in, they are sure to find something well-suited for them.
5. Check Out Maps and Atlases
Some kids enjoy looking at maps and atlases. That is particularly true when they can connect what they see with where they are traveling. Of course, this is a good thing for the kids themselves because PBS says geography is a critical skill that people need to make sense of the world around them. Furthermore, looking at maps and atlas has some very practical applications. If nothing else, the ability to find their way will be very useful for kids when they are older.
6. Go Through Seek and Find Books
Seek-and-find books give their readers the chance to look for hidden figures in their detailed illustrations. Interested individuals might be familiar with Where’s Wally? However, there are a lot of other seek-and-find books out there. These books can be quite interesting to kids. That is particularly true if they enjoy detail-oriented tasks.
7. Keep a Travel Journal
Travel journals are a way for people to reflect on their travel experiences. Some kids won’t have any interest in keeping travel journals whatsoever. Others will be much more receptive to the idea. If so, it is a good idea to encourage them, not least because keeping travel journals can make their travel experiences much more memorable for them than otherwise possible.
8. Eat Snacks
Delish has a list of foods that make people happy. Some of these foods aren’t so good for car rides. For instance, oysters aren’t the kind of thing that people should eat while riding in a motor vehicle, which rules them out as a potential snack. Fortunately, plenty of other foods are much better-suited as snacks.
One excellent example would be bananas, which contain a chemical called tryptophan that helps people regulate their moods. Another excellent example would be walnuts, which are proven beneficial for human brain function. Besides these, there are a lot of other nuts, seeds, and fruits that make great snacks for long car rides, so interested individuals should look into them for further nutritional information. Looking into recipes can also be useful.
These foods are already good-tasting. However, it is possible to improve their natural flavors in various ways. Walnuts are great, but they can become even better when they have been honey-glazed.
Drawing is always a good way to pass the time. That is true when people draw what they see. Similarly, that is true when people draw whatever their imaginations dream up. A sketchpad isn’t necessarily the best way to draw while stuck on a long car ride.
After all, the motor vehicle is in constant motion, which can cause serious irritation when an unexpected movement messes up a line or worse. Instead, consider something more forgiving in this regard. The Etch A Sketch is a classic example. If people make a mistake, they can just start over with minimal fuss and hassle.
10. Draw On Car Windows
Generally speaking, kids aren’t supposed to draw on anything other than paper and similar materials. It is amusing to note that there are window crayons for drawing on windows and other glass surfaces. Supposedly, these can be surprisingly entertaining while riding in a motor vehicle.
11. Color Some Coloring Books
With that said, people might be less than enthused by the thought of having to clean their car windows. If so, it is best to stick to the classics. For instance, consider coloring books, which are specifically produced to let kids color in them. Scholastic points out coloring books are also good for teaching kids some much-valued skills.
Hand-eye coordination is the most obvious of them. Others range from focus to creativity. Neither one of these two things are 100 percent inherent. Instead, kids can hone them in the same way they can hone a lot of other important life skills, meaning they should get started sooner rather than later.
12. Practice Origami
Origami comes from the Japanese art of paper folding. However, it has long since been incorporated into the English language, encompassing not just the Japanese version but also its non-Japanese counterparts. Regardless, origami is a surprisingly good way to pass the time during a long car ride. Interested individuals don’t need much to practice it. Moreover, there are plenty of resources that can help them make something more eye-catching than the paper crane.
13. Play with Magnetic Board Games
Traditional board games are not a good choice for long car rides. There is always a threat of sudden, jarring motion, which can cause the pieces to fall out of position. There are various solutions to this problem. One would be playing traditional board games using mobile devices.
Another would be buying magnetic board games, which offer the same experience but ensure that every piece will remain in place as needed thanks to the power of magnets. Of course, choosing the right magnetic game is needed to ensure the right results. For instance, interested individuals should never choose Monopoly.
Thrillist says it causes more fights than any other board game. That makes sense because Monopoly was never meant to be fun. Instead, Smithsonian points out that the original version was quite literally supposed to show the evils of unconstrained capitalism.
14. Play with Magnetic Legos
Legos are a lot of fun. Unfortunately, motor vehicles aren’t the best places for playing with them. They aren’t quite as bad as traditional board games in this regard. Individual Lego pieces are supposed to stick together. After which, people can count on them to do so reliably.
Still, no one enjoys the thought of kids dropping Lego pieces everywhere in their car. Conveniently, there are magnetic Lego pieces, which give interested individuals an extra layer of assurance that there won’t be a mess.
15. Play a Video Game
Video games can be a bit controversial. Yes, people can get addicted to video games with terrible consequences for their health and other measurements of their well-being. The issue is that much the same can be said about a wide range of other pursuits, which include some that tend to be seen in an innocuous light.
A reasonable amount of video game time can be a useful way to occupy kids while they are stuck on a long car ride. Besides that, interested individuals should also make sure that the video game in question is suitable for the intended player. ESRB ratings exist for a reason. If people want to be responsible, they need to check those ratings and those labels to get a general sense of the expected content.
16. Play the License Plate Game
People can play a wide range of other games without needing anything. One excellent example would be the license plate game. Essentially, interested individuals compete to see whether they can spot license plates with certain letters or certain characteristics. In the United States, it is particularly common to see people trying to spot license plates from every U.S. state.
17. Play Guessing Games
Guessing games are also popular. For example, one player can start by choosing a word for the others to guess. Subsequently, they can answer questions about the word directed at them by the other players, giving more and more information until one of the other players manages to guess what they have in mind.
Similarly, one player can start by giving several clues about their chosen word. This is effectively a riddle game. The higher the number of given clues, the easier it becomes to guess the chosen word.
18. Play Word Games
Word games are another potential option. Some word games people can play among themselves without needing anything. I Spy is a classic. Likewise, there is the option of getting kids to guess an animal by stating what that animal’s name rhymes with. Interested individuals can also check out crosswords and similar word games, which can interest some kids but not others.
19. Watch a Video
A lot of cars come with built-in video players. Failing that, there are a lot of mobile devices that can play one kind of video or another. As such, one of the easiest ways to keep kids occupied during a long car ride would be to let them watch a video tailored to their interests.
If they want to watch a movie, there are plenty of age-appropriate choices. Similarly, if they want to learn something, kids-oriented documentaries abound. Staring at a screen for too long isn’t a good thing. Still, doing so in moderation can be quite enjoyable.
20. Use a Mobile Device
Mobile devices have become ubiquitous. Due to that, it seems strange to pass up on their entertainment potential. Kids can do a wide range of things using mobile devices. If they want to draw, there are apps for that. Alternatively, if they want to play games, there are countless options found in app stores and other places.
Mobile devices are so versatile that they offer effectively inexhaustible entertainment, particularly when they are connected to the Internet. As always, proper supervision is needed for the best results. Luckily, there is no shortage of parental control apps that can let kids have fun without accessing anything they shouldn’t.
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