Going on drives is such a fun family activity! The car is the perfect place to play learning games. If you make it fun, your kids won’t even realize they’re practicing their academic skills.
Since I’ve already compiled a list of math car games, it was time to hit language arts. So here are our favorite English Language Arts (ELA) car games for kids.
Each of these ELA games needs at least two players, though any number can play. They’re very adaptable!
And the best part? They don’t require any materials. So you can play without having to add even more clutter to your car.
1. Who Am I?
Pick one player to go first. This player secretly selects a favorite character or person. Now, it’s up to the other players to figure out who that player is thinking of.
Take turns asking yes or no questions to try to narrow down your options. Here are some of our best questions:
- Are you male?
- Do you have long hair?
- Are you real?
- Do you have super powers?
- Are you an animal?
- Are you on a TV show?
- Have we ever read a book about you for school?
- Have we ever met?
The person who is thinking of someone must answer honestly, to the best of his/her ability. Once someone has guessed the correct answer, it’s time for a new player to be it.
This game helps your kids learn to think critically, compose their thoughts in questions, and use information to make decisions. It’s a lot of fun, and can really help the miles go by!
2. License Plate Words
This game requires quick thinking! Each person looks at a license plate on a nearby car, and comes up with a saying that the letters and numbers represent.
Could be 674 Real Life Queens.
Or 674 Round Lined Quilts.
What will you think of? It’s a great way to practice initial sounds for younger kids, and creative thinking for older ones.
3. I’m Going to Grandma’s
Here’s a classic game that we enjoy. We’ve modified it a bit though, because most of our kids are in the little and middle category!
One person starts. She says, “I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing a _______.” Except, she fills in the blank with a word that starts with A.
The next person continues, “I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing a _______.” And her word starts with a B.
Continue through the alphabet.
If you have older kids, you can require each person to name every item that’s been listed so far:
“I’m going to Grandma’s and I’m bringing an ______, a __________, and a ________.” That’s what this version of the game would sound like for the letter C. It adds a memory component that makes it more difficult.
You can also add a theme. Require everyone to bring an animal. Or a food.
You’ll be practicing initial letter sounds, and following directions.
4. A My Name Is
Another classic I loved playing with my family as a girl! One person starts with the letter A:
A my name is ________.
My husband’s (wife’s) name is _________.
We live in ______________
Selling cartloads of __________.
Each blank space has to be filled in with a word starting with the letter A. The player could say:
A my name is Amelia.
My husband’s name is Arnie.
We live in America
Selling cartloads of alligators.
The next person does the same thing, substituting all the A words for ones that start with B. Continue until all the letters have been completed.
Some letters are harder than others! You can let older players help younger players. You might even decide that Google is allowed if there’s a smartphone in the car.
Your child will be working on parts of speech, initial letter sounds, and geography while playing.
5. The Association Game
This game can go from point A to point Q in the blink of an eye! It’s a fast-moving, fun game of association. Here’s how you play:
One person says a random word. The next player says the first word that word made him think of.
Let’s say the first word was paper.
The next person might say pen.
So the third player could say ink.
That could make the next player think of the squids in Mario Kart, and say squid.
You never know quite where this game will take you.
As you play, you’ll be improving your child’s vocabulary, helping him to understand connections between words.
6. The One Word Story
It’s time to tell a story of epic proportions. One player starts by stating a single word. Continue around the car, letting everyone add the next word in turn.
Word by word, create a unique story. Since you never know what the person in front of you will say, you have to be really listening. You’ll also have to add a word that makes sense, helping each player to gain a better understanding of how words fit together.
We’ve created some fabulous tales this way! Some of them were so enjoyable the kids even asked for an encore telling of the story at bedtime.
7. Fortunately, Unfortunately
The glass can be half empty, or it can be half full. This game helps kids explore both sides of the cup.
One person starts by saying, “Fortunately, _________” and filling in the blank with an event. It could be:
Fortunately, it started raining lemon drops.
The next player looks at the situation through a different lens. “Unfortunately, _______________” and fills in the blank with another event.
Here’s an example:
Unfortunately, a lemon drop landed on my head.
The next player continues the tale, making it positive again. “Fortunately, ________________.”
Fortunately, it didn’t cause any lasting damage.
Then something bad happens again.
Unfortunately, while I was watching the lemon drops fall, I dropped the bag I was carrying.
And so it continues. You never know where these tales of fortune and woe will end up. My kids all enjoy playing it!
Alternate between Fortunately and Unfortunately. If you only have two players, you’ll have to switch it up occasionally, or else one person will always be fortunately and one unfortunately. You can easily just have one person take two turns in a row every few answers to mix it up.
What are your favorite ELA Games to play in the car?
I’d love for you to share in the comments. Since we’re gearing up to begin our deputation ministry, we will be spending a ton of time in the car and would love to try out some new games!