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Car Games to Make the Time Fly
When the family's engaged in a long, boring road trip, the situation can be particularly hard on the kids. While you have the occasional junior Poindexter who's happy to while the time away reading, most kids quickly becoming squirming masses of squabbling energy. There's nothing more likely to make you turn into your father than being aggravated by a little voice saying "Mom! He's touching me!" every five minutes, or a sullen teenager drawling, "Are we there yet?"
If you don't want to hear yourself uttering the dreaded "Don't make me stop this car!" at regular intervals, you might want to suggest to your beloved offspring some entertaining activities that do not involve shoving and kicking. We're talking car games here, some of which have been entertaining wayward kids for generations.
Let's start with the classic ABC game. You've probably played it: the object of the game is to find examples of every letter of the alphabet on items outside the car. Usually that means road signs, billboards, buildings, license plates, other cars, you name it. Now, there are two basic ways you can go about this -- competitively or cooperative. In the competitive version, the kids look for the letters individually, and the first one to Z wins. The cooperative way is still a little competitive, but it has everyone looking for the same sequence. One kid might get A, another B, and soon they'll be competing to see who can get the next one. As you might guess, the really hard letters, like Q and Z, can take a while.
To make the game even harder, limit it to specific objects -- cars, signs, or billboards. Don't overdo it, though, because this can get old fast. Another way to extend the game is by having the kids look for the digits 0-9 after they finish the alphabet.
Easy as cowpies
Another fun pastime is the Cow Game, which really only works if you're traveling through great swaths of countryside. At the beginning of a particular leg of the trip, half the family takes the left side of the road and the other takes the right side, and you start counting cows. Whenever you pass a cemetery on your side of the road, however, you loose your points and have to start over! You don't have to stick with cows -- you can vary the game by assigning different values to different animals. When you see the animal, you make the sound they do and you get points for it. A cow (moo) might be worth a point, a horse (neigh) two points, a cat (meow) three points, and a sheep (baaa) four points. If someone sees a really exotic animal, like an elephant, you'll have to decide what that's worth to you, after you finally remember the noise they make. By then end of that leg of the trip, the side with the most points gets a treat -- say, a milkshake at Dairy Queen. Since it wouldn't be fair for one kid to get a shake while the other didn't, then in the end everyone wins!