Car journey entertainment
I went on holiday last week, as you may notice soon from the huge number of blog posts that will be coming soon. We went to Normandy, which is a long journey from Leeds - overnight on the Hull-Zebrugge ferry & then a long drive through France. I loved it, I struggle for energy on long journeys but we were going on holiday. But my foster brother is not able to keep himself entertained for more than about 6 seconds. Plus he is a lot younger than the rest of us - mentally more than physically - so the car games that we would cope with playing for 6 hours are not the ones he would want to play for 6 hours. He can't even cope with I-Spy for more than half an hour!
I did a lot of research for travel activities & if I'm honest I wasn't impressed. There were lots of technology recommendations & talking games involving word puzzles etc. There wasn't that much for little kids or suggestions to help kids entertain themselves. So I made some stuff..
Last time we went on a holiday abroad - about 5 or 6 years ago - I made tick sheets for my foster brother to keep him going. The concept is like that game that people do when you've got a whine-y little kid who wants sweets - you can have sweets if you see 5 lorries, a yellow car & two trees. Anyway, that was the basis of the tick sheets that were made. We were going to France so I found french road signs & things you would see on & around roads. I tried to spread out the difficulty level of the things on the sheet so that some were easy & some were really hard. You can download the tick sheets here (looks crappy online but if you download it it sorts itself out) & add things & take things out depending on where you are going.
Ways you could adapt the sheets for you
- You could add the - for example - french word for each thing underneath so that your child picks up some of the language.
- If your child is very young much simpler concepts & images could be used & you could add the words to the tick sheet again. For example have a blob of green & the word green then they would have to find something green.
- You can customise them for the country you are going to, just replace road signs for the road signs in that country. I found that the wikipedia for the country is very useful as well as this wikipedia page which compares a bunch of different road signs across Europe.
I did another tick sheet for my brother. He's 18 but I didn't think my foster brother would be willing to play his tick sheet if my brother didn't have one too - he may act like a 6 year old but he expects to be treated like he's the same age as everyone else. I thoughts it might be good to find something for older kids anyway, you can't give kids 'lorry, green car, tree, bus' forever. So I did this sheet which I think is really fun. It's the car stickers you have for cars so you know which country the car is from. I'm not really sure what these are officially called & they aren't easy to find in actual sticker form anymore as most cars have the abbreviations on their number plates. Whatever, once you've managed to find the images & made the tick sheet, it's amazing fun for anyone with an attention long enough to last most of the holiday. Cause this really does stay fun for the whole holiday, with everyone in the car joining in as you pass lorries or go through car parks.
This sheet is for the holiday we had in France so has European stickers on & nothing else but you could adapt this in a number of ways:
- For a holiday in America you could do the same thing but for states rather than countries.
- I noticed that french number plates have the region number on them, as I understand a number of countries now have. Perhaps that would be an even trickier version of this tick sheet.
- Maybe introduce rules - no lorries, they make it too easy or no cars, a motorway only version of the game.
The final thing I did was number plate bingo, which was a great fail-safe measure for stopping the whining that you get with ques or traffic jams - like when we were waiting to get on the ferry. I made up a sheet with a pre-sorted bingo box containing numbers & letters which you could cross off when you saw the number/letter on a number plate. We extended it to road signs because it didn't move fast enough for my foster brother. The document is here if you want to use it, there are 3 pre-made sheets plus 3 blanks which I wrote numbers & letters into for the way home.
I know this is a pretty unusual blog post for me, more usual posting will resume soon, but all in all I think the car games worked really well. They kept my foster brother entertained most of the way down - which was a very trying drive. Anyway, let me know what you guys think of these car games...