Top 10 travel games for kids (without props)
Hello from Malta! I'm writing this blog post while on holiday with Gammon and Chips in a lovely 300 year old farmhouse in a sleepy little village in the south of the island called Qrendi.
We've just spent the last week on the even sleepier island of Gozo (about a 30 minute ferry ride from Malta island), and have now moved on to our new location for the week.
We've done quite a bit of travelling since last week – starting with the three hour flight from Gatwick, followed by the hour long bus ride to the ferry terminal, the half an hour ferry journey, and a 15 minute taxi trip to finally arrive at our villa on Gozo – and then the same back in reverse. Going hand-in-hand with the travelling part, we've also done our fair share of waiting – for a plane, bus, ferry, taxi, bus, bus, bus, taxi, ferry, bus, bus.
And I've also done quite a bit of kicking myself this week. Yes, I've only gone and shown the world what a disorganised mother I am, by forgetting to pack any toys for Gammon and Chips (apart from four Hairy McLary books and three Mr Men ones).
So we've had to come up with a few kids' travel games of our own which are suitable for the actual 'travelling' part of travelling. You know... the sitting on the bus, and the waiting for the ferry to arrive bit.
No props. No fancy gadgetry. Just basic language skills, a good imagination and two or more players.
So, I thought I'd share my list with you. I hope they help you with your travelling adventures. Please feel free to add your own favourites below, so we can create one mega family-friendly travel game list.
Here are My Top 10 Kids' Travelling Games, and details of how to play them:
1. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
Someone thinks of an animal, vegetable or mineral and everyone else has to ask questions which can only be answered by 'yes' or 'no' in order to narrow down to the chosen object. Gammon (three and a half) likes to play a version of this about dinosaurs, asking questions like 'does your dinosaur have wings?' or 'is your dinosaur a carnivore?' 'Animals' are fairly self explanatory (fauna). 'Vegetables' are any plant matter (flora). And 'minerals' are pretty much everything else that doesn't fit into the proceeding two categories!
2. I Spy
I think everyone knows this one, but I'll explain just in case. Someone chooses an object they can see. They say 'I spy with my little eye, something beginning with...' and say the letter that the object begins with. Everyone else has to guess what that object is. For younger pre-reading children, you can make it simpler by just saying 'I spy with my little eye... a red car' and everyone else has to find that red car. The possibilities are endless with this one!
3. Mr Men Guess Who?
Just like the board game you can buy, but we play this using the back of Mr Men and Little Miss books (OK, one prop!) Someone chooses a Mr Men character and the others take turns asking questions like 'Does your Mr Men have glasses?' The person in can only answer 'yes' or 'no' and those trying to guess can narrow it down with each guess, until there are only a few Mr Men left. The person who guesses the correct Mr Men character is the winner of that round and gets to choose the Mr Men character for the next go.
4. Name That Song Rhythm
Someone thinks of a song and taps the rhythm of it out on a hard surface. Everyone else tries to guess the song. Once guessed, the turn passes to the person who guessed the last song correctly. If you're rhythmically challenged, you can also play this as a 'Name That Tune' type game by humming the melody of the song instead of tapping it. I bet 'Eye of the Tiger' has never sounded so good!
5. I'm Thinking of a Number...
One player thinks of a number between 1 and 100. The other players take it in turn to guess a number. The first player can only reveal whether their number is 'higher' or 'lower' than the guessed number. The turns keep going around until the number is finally guessed. It's then the winner's turn to choose the next number.
6. Celebrity Initials
This one's for slightly older children. Someone names a celebrity (eg, Barack Obama). The person clockwise to them says a celebrity's name which starts with the first letter of the celebrity's surname (eg, O – Orson Welles). The next person says the name of someone beginning with the first letter of that surname (eg, W – William Shakespeare). You keep going round the circle until no one can think of any and that person loses the round. A double letter (eg. Janet Jackson) reverses the direction of play, so you start going anti-clockwise. Sometimes this works better if you put a five or 10 second time limit on it to keep the play moving faster. A good game for around campfires too!
7. Rock, Paper, Scissors
A good old fashioned one. Also called Ro Sham Bo, Janken, or Scissors Paper Stone in other parts of the world. Flat hand = paper. Fingers 2 and 3 out = scissors. Hand in fist = rock. All hands in to a centre circle. One, two, three. Paper covers rock. Scissors cuts paper. Rock smashes scissors. First to ten wins. Simples.
8. The Alphabet Game
You choose a theme (eg, Countries, Girls Names, Boys Names, Animals, ...). You start at the beginning of the alphabet and each person names one of your chosen theme starting with the letter 'a'. The next person does the same (eg, countries would be Albania, Australia, Austria...). You keep going round in the same order until one person can't think of one for their go. Then you move on to the letter 'B' for the same theme (Bolivia, Burma, Belgium...). Once you get to 'Z', you can start a new theme at the letter 'A'. Endless hours of fun for this one!
9. Scavenger Hunt
This works best if you plan it in advance. Write or print out a list of items that each player needs to tick off during the course of their journey. Every time a player sees an item, they need to shout out. The first person to do so gets to tick that item off their list, and the other players must find another one to tick off for their list. The first person to tick off all the items off their list is the winner. This obviously works best if you are moving in some sort of travelling vehicle... not if you are just sat at the bus stop waiting for a bus... unless you are more bored than a cardboard box... in which case, any game will probably do.
10. I'm Going To The Moon
You start at the letter 'A'. Someone says 'I'm going to the moon and I'm bringing a/an...' and names an object starting with the letter 'A' (eg, Avocado). You then move round the circle and the next person says 'I'm going to the moon and I'm bringing an avocado and a bayonet' (something beginning with 'B'). You keep rotating the play until you get to the letter 'Z' and the last person has to remember 26 things in order. Eternal kudos and high fives all round!
Maddie Sinclair is an Aussie expat work-at-home mum of a three-and-a-half year old boy, Gammon, and an 18 month old girl, Chips. When she's not mothering, she spends her time as a freelance proofreader and writer.
Blogs at: Gammon and Chips