Car Games – Part 2:Turn Your Car Into A Rolling Preschool

Hmmm. Car Games-Part 1:Baby was delivered to you on May 22. Now, nearly four months later, we bring you Part 2 of our car travel series. It’s been a wonderfully relaxing summer, replete with pleasure-filled days hanging out with the kids on the shores of Lake Charlevoix.

With the start of the school year, I’m mindful of just how much time we’re spending in the car! Living in rural northern Michigan, I have managed to escaped the drudgery of rush hour traffic. Even so, I spend hours a week behind the wheel with kids in tow.

Studies show that much of a child’s future success is dependent upon the learning acquired in the first few years of life. So why not capitalize on seemingly empty hours on the road?

Imagine you are a preschool teacher and your daily commute is your “circle time”. You might want to discuss some of the following:

* Today’s date
* Review months of the year leading up to today’s date
* The season you are in
* The weather outside and appropriate clothing for the weather
* The day of the week
* Review days of the week
* Holidays, birthdays or special events that might be coming up

You can create games using your child’s name.  Babies respond to their names at a very early age.  I like putting their names to music (actually, I like putting just about anything to music). We taught Christopher to spell his extraordinarily long name using the tune of “Mickey Mouse”:

Who’s the leader in the car,
He’s happy as can be,
C-H-R I-S-T O-P-H-E-R.
Christopher, Christopher,
Forever may he hold his hands up high, high, high, high!”

Corny? Yes. Effective? YES!!!

High five: Many parents teach kids the “high five”.  Teach your child what “five” means by counting to five on your fingers, then encouraging them to give you a virtual “high five” from the back seat. Then encourage them to count as high as they can. Older kids can practice counting by 5’s too.

Body parts: Encourage your toddler to name body parts (Where are your wrists?) then articles of clothing (Where are your socks?) What part of your body do your socks cover? Or, I’m thinking of a body part that starts with an “N” sound. Can you think of what body part starts with an “N” sound?

Shapes and colors: Introduce colors and shapes to your toddler at home with toys, then apply those lessons to real world objects.  “What shape is the car’s tire?  It looks like a circle to me!”  “What color is this flower?  It has white pedals and a yellow center.  The yellow center is shaped like a circle.”

For longer car trips, we play the Skittle Game. I encourage my child to name a word that starts with a certain letter. When they are toddlers, they get a Skittle when they name a word. It can be a nonsense word, I’m just working on phonics. For older children, I give tougher letters and make them come up with three words to get a Skittle. In my experience, M&M’s work just as well as Skittles. Raisins… not so much. 🙂

Stock up on educational CD’s and DVD’s if your car has a DVD player. Most libraries have children’s books on CD and many come with a book for following along. You can also download stories on your iPhone or Droid. Here are some of our all-time favorites, which are available for purchase at the BabyTravel Boutique:

LeapFrog Letter Factory, Talking Words Factory, StoryBook Factory and Math Circus (DVD’s)
Sesame Street Old School (Volume 1) & Sesame Street Old School (Volume 2) (DVD’s)
Dr. Jean & Friends (CD)
Raffi’s Singable Songs Collection (CD)
Laurie Berkner’s Buzz Buzz (CD)

If you have favorites you’d like to see added to our list, be sure to make a comment below.


  1. Love your suggestions!!!! I thought I’d share mine:
    My friend, the fabulous journalist and extraordinary mom, Tanya Triber just shared a great kid’s CD with me. Where, oh where, was this kind of music when my son was little and we were on long car trips? All you parents out there, check it out:

  2. I love your ideas… Road trips are so fun. But they can be hard for little ones. Thanks for sharing.