With our road trip to Shil’s wedding later this month, the avid lesson planner/entertainment director in me has been fully unleashed. For weeks now I have been compiling a list of activities to do with the children (and Bill—hi, honey!) for the approximately 80 hours that we will be in the car.

That’s 80 hours of opportunity. Eighty hours of learning. Eighty hours of family time. Eighty hours of epic adventure and bonding. And somewhere out there is our Wally World, I just know it.

Initially I wanted a list of 160 different activities—two an hour—but that was pretty ambitious. I’m not quite giving up, though, and I’d love to at least have 100 different activities from which to draw before we leave. Any suggestions? Please, please!!


1. Find the Bananas (Look for all the yellow cars we can find in a set time limit)

2. Fortunately….Unfortunately (Played as a round, this game starts follows this pattern: “One day, Peggy went out for a walk. Unfortunately, she was hit by a tree. Fortunately, it was only a sapling. Unfortunately,….”)

3. I Spy in a Bottle (Fill a bottle with rice and small toys, have the kiddos turn it around to try to find all of the objects)

4. Who am I? (Pick a character—Abe Lincoln, Wonder Woman, etc.—and give clues)

5. Team Storytelling

6. Watch for License Plates (Mark them off on a laminated map)

7. Counting car colors (See how many of each color we can find in a time limit)

8. I See Something

9. New planet (Invent a whole new planet and the entities that live there)

10. Stadt, Land, Fluss

11. Counting cows

12. Kohlberg’s moral dilemmas (Huge family values discussion)

13. Making masks (I have some masks, construction paper, and embellishments)

14. Cardboard animals

15. Alphabet memory game (A my name is Allie and I come from Australia)

16. Scavenger hunt

17. Books on tape (We have several of these, many of which are from NPR’s Rabbit Ears Treasury—so these are many activities)

18. Music (Lots and lots and lots of music—still making a playlist, too)!

19. Letters on signs (Find the alphabet in order on signs)

20. Play-Doh

21. Paint with water (We bought some paint-with-water papers that turn colors)

22. Glow sticks at night

23. White boards

24. Sketchbooks (Kiddos have a sketch book apiece…we can draw, doodle, write memories in there)

25. Car stretches (Exercise routine on the go)

26. What I Like About You (Each family member takes turns telling the other family members what he or she likes about them)

27. Car snack attack/Make own trail mix (I am excited about this one! I am going to give Katie some real money (Eric can play, too) and then she can use the coins to buy elements of her custom-designed trail mix—I will have preset prices on things like soy nuts and M and Ms…great chance to reinforce her money work from this year)

28. Magnet letters (We’re taking small new cookie sheets and letter and number magnets)

29. Reading (Taking lots of books!!!!)

30. Puzzles

31. iPad games

32. Movies (If it comes to this…)

33. Harmonicas

34. Mad libs

35. Paper airplanes

36. Sidewalk chalk and family crest (Early on, I want the four of us to design a family crest. Then, with the sidewalk chalk we’re bringing, my idea is for us to draw this crest somewhere in every state we pass through).

37. Parrot game/memory work (Maybe Katie can learn “To be or not to be…” 😉

38. Pipe cleaner play

39. Road trip boxes (We’ll make these early on…little decorated treasure boxes for mementos obtained during the trip

40. Car bingo (Using printed out and laminated sheets)

41. Postcards/writing notes (We are bringing stamps and will work together to compose postcards every morning)

42. Coloring

43. Map reading

44. Travel Doodles ($1 each from Target…like a Magna Doodle only smaller)

45. Make a drawing from a doodle (One person draws a doodle, the other player tries to make something out of it)

46. Crazy spelling (A fave of Katie’s….she puts any string of letters together and we try to pronounce it).

47. Magnetic numbers

48. Tall tales exaggerations (Reviewing our tall tales and writing our own exaggerated sentences)

49. Rhyme games (“On my feet I wear some twos…oh, I mean shoes”)

50. I Love my Love (“I love my love with A because she is adorable”)

51. You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile (one person is “it” and tries to get us all to smile—last one to smile wins)

52. Nursery Rhyme guessing game (say a line from a nursery rhyme, people have to guess title)

53. The Minister’s Cat (“The minister’s cat is an adorable cat…everyone does the letter)

54. Carnelli (This is a game played at Mensa meetings, and it has different rules, but we’ll do ours with lyrics)

55. Name that Tune

56. Person, Place, or Thing

57. Simon Says

58. Pat Head and Rub Tummy

59. M & M sorting

60. Fictionary Dictionary (Choose a word and try to guess the right definition)

61. Paper Fans

62. Paper dolls

63. Palm reading

64. Good luck hand (construction paper, trace hand, decorate)

65. Collages

66. Family tree (construction paper)

67. Amish quilt squares

68. Kermit and Cookie Monster puppets

69. Route 66 Placemats (Make woven placemats from construction paper—kiddos can use for lunch in the car)

70. The Packing Game (I went on a trip and I packed…Everyone tries to remember the list)

71. The Quiet Game

72. Mutations (Pick something out the window and describe it mutating…a tree growing upside down, for example)

73. Hot and Cold (Visualize our house, hide something in a room in your mind… we try to guess using hot and cold clues)

74. If We Were (If we were driving in an ant instead of a car, then…)

75. The Echo (Echo) Game (A memory work game of making lists: rhyming words, presidents, etc)

76. Rock, Paper, Scissors

77. Tic Tac Toe

78. Tom Thumb (Hide your hands behind your back and sing “Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin?” then bring one thumb around pretend the thumb says “Here I am!” (now the other thumb), “Here I am!”  (now the thumbs are talking to each other) “How are you today sir?” “Very well I thank you”.  Then sing “Run away” (Hide one thumb) “Run away” (hide the other thumb)  You can repeat this with all the fingers (Pointer, Tall Man, Ring Man, and Pinky)

79. Clapping games (Down Down Baby, Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny, Lemonade Crunchy Ice, Miss Mary Mack)

80.Writing family norms (We should do this early on…communication paradigms and procedures for our family on the road—a great brainstorming session. By the way, friends—if he hasn’t before now, this is the place where my husband just rolled his eyeballs).

81. Would You Be This…or That? (Katie made up this game…we’ll ask silly questions like, “Would you rather be a tree or a sink?” and then other person has to choose one and then defend with a logical reason)

82. I’ve Been to Market (All players form a circle. The first player says to the player on his left, “I’ve been to market”. Player to his left answers, “What have you bought?”. The first player names any article that he likes, provided that he can touch that article – clothing, his shoe, the carpet – – anything within his reach without standing up. Play goes around the circle, all players must name something that has not already been said, or they forfeit the game).

83. ROYGBIV (Find colors of the rainbow in order)

84. Will We See Gophers? (Think of something we’ll do on the trip, ask clues)

Like I said, I’d love to generate at least sixteen more options. I am sure we’ll think of some on the road, too. We also will have times of napping and times of free conversation and time spent just looking out the window. We could also make up a family cheer. Plus, I’m taking construction paper and glue and tape…and aren’t there a million things to make from construction paper? We can also take some of our school/activity books. There are so many options, really, and if we just keep putting together two or three or four of these per hour, we’ll be good. Bill and I both teachers, right? Isn’t this what we do for a living? Bill was even a mentor teacher at one point, so he should have this on lockdown. Correct, honey? A car is just like a portable classroom…isn’t it? Famous last words, I’m sure!