Jun 24, 2016

Summertime Family Road Trips: How to Reduce Screentime

Traveling in cars, or other forms of transportation, can be challenging with young children (and big children too) as they can get restless and unhappy leading to discomfort for everyone. Before long, one of the siblings is poking the other and the havoc begins. There are many ways, today, to entertain children with electronic gadgets and screens. But, if you are trying to get your children off of the screen, this article might provide you some ideas on how to pass the time, and help children look up and out the window. This article suggests some fun games to play with children that  will allow them to be actively involved with others and off of individual screens.

The "Classic" Song Game

This game can be very challenging, and involves the memory of song lyrics.

The first person will sing a song and then stop at a word and then the next person must think of a song with that word in it. For instance, one person might sing a Justin Bieber popular song and end with the word, "baby" and the next person might sing, "Rock my baby on the tree..." Ending with word, tree the next person playing this song game will have to find a song with tree in it. This game can be played until no one can think of a song with the word or this song game can simply, and cooperatively and collectively,  be played together.

Name That Tune

A classic television show can be played while traveling the long distance in a car with each person, or just the parents, giving clue notes about the song they have chosen. The players try and see if they can think of what song is being hummed or whistled. If older children are playing this game, they can try and guess how many notes they are going to guess the song in. Start with one note, then another and so on until the song is guessed.

Make a Playlist of Songs for a Guessing Game

This suggestion takes some preparation but might end up passing the time effectively in the car ride. A version of name that tune is to copy the beginning of songs onto a playlist  for the travelers to guess. Another suggestion is to make a full playlist of songs, or portions of songs, and the players have to guess an aspect of that song. Following are some ideas or variations for the guessing game:

  • Movie Soundtracks: guess what movie the song can be found
  • Who is Singing?: guess the artist
  • Now or Then? : find songs from the past and present, and the players have to guess
  • World Music: guess what part of the world the song is from
  • What Decade? players have to decide which decade the song comes from
This activity could be prepared by different members of the family before leaving home.

ABC's and Children's Songs 

This game can be a collective song or played individually. Moreover, the parents might sing songs for their restless toddlers. Use the alphabet and with each letter find a word that starts with that letter and then a correlating song. Finding the word is a great activity for young children learning phonics and the sounds of letters. To illustrate this game: A is for apple and the song could be I like to eat apples and bananas.

ABC's and Shopping

This is another memory game, and is great for learning the alphabet and phonics. It is a cumulative game matching the alphabet with a bought item. The first person begins, "I went shopping and bought an apple.
The next person says, I went shopping and bought an apple and a b__________(anything that begins with a b, such as a banana. The next person says, "I went shopping and bought an apple, a banana and a c______. See which family member can remember the whole alphabet!

The Geographical Game

This ia game that can have any topic, but originally was created with geography. The rules are only one geographical spot (city, town, state, province, country, ocean, river...) can be said once, no repeats. The first person will say any place, such as Canada. This ends with a, and so the next player, must think of a place that begins with A.

Long car rides can be trying, but with some creativity and music, hopefully your next trip might go by a little faster with these fun game suggestions.

Online Early Childhood Workshops with Circle of Ideas