During a recent conversation with my grandmother about her youth, she shared an amusing story with me that I think is quite relevant to any family’s travel experiences. She told me about the long car journeys to Pennsylvania that she and her two brothers (one of those being Farmer Dave) would take in order to visit their grandparent’s farm, on Buckwheat Hollow Road. My grandma remembered that she and her brothers would get into some heated arguments on those car rides. To help diffuse tensions, they would play a game called “Horse, Horse,” where the object of the game was to spot a horse on the side of the road. The first person to say, “Horse, Horse,” would get a point. Grandma then said that other rules were put into place based on the whims of the game’s leader. (According to Farmer Dave, his older sister always made the rules!) One rule she recalled was that a white horse was worth two points.
As I picture my grandmother and her brothers playing this car game more than seventy years ago, I realize that coming up with ways to entertain children in the car is still relevant today. More than relevant, car games are a wonderful way to bond as a family, and an opportunity to create lasting and funny memories that kids might, one day, share with their grandchildren.
So, in the spirit of memorable car rides, or at least more peaceful ones, we here at East Hill Farm have compiled a list of engaging and fun car games for your family. Hopefully, your children will keep the squabbles to a minimum while playing. If not, rest assured, we will have a warm fritter waiting for you when you get here (or a Manhattan, or two).
- License Plate Game~ The aim of this game is to spot a license plate from all 50 states. Each plate counts as one point. Or, you can play by scoring more points than the other players in a certain amount of time. The game ends when either time runs out and the player with the most points wins, or a player has spotted a license plate from all 50 states.
2. Alphabet Game~ First, decide if you will be hunting letters on signs, billboards, or license plates. Begin with the letter “A” and find that letter on your chosen item. Once an “A” is found, continue onto the letter “B”, and then through the rest of the alphabet. You can play this game as a team, or individually. Try to finish the whole alphabet before reaching your destination… like the Inn at East Hill Farm.
3. I Spy Game~ To begin, choose a spy that will see something and keep the item a secret. The item must be something that all the players can see, and something that will stay in sight for a while. The spy then states, “I spy with my little eye, something that…” and ends this statement with a descriptive clue. For example “I spy with my little eye, something that is blue,” or “…begins with the letter E.” Then the other players take turns asking the spy questions, which can only be answered with “yes,” or “no”. If a player thinks they have the answer they can ask specifically, “Is it that blue house?” “Is it that red car?” When someone guesses the answer correctly, they become the new Spy.
4. 20 Questions Game~ First, think of an object that can be classified as an animal, vegetable, or mineral. Tell the other players which category your mystery object fits into. One player then asks a Yes or No question to try to learn more about the mystery object. Answer the question with a “Yes,” or “No”. Have the other players take turns asking “Yes” or “No” questions up to a total of 20 Questions. Let the players guess the object at any time by phrasing their guess as a question, such as “Is the mystery object dad’s red baseball hat?” Count this as one of the 20 Questions. Have the players guess the mystery object after they have asked all of their 20 Questions. The winner is the one who correctly guesses the mystery object. Let the winner choose the next mystery object. If no one guesses your object correctly, choose the next object yourself.
5. Name that tune~ This game can be played either through the radio or through someone’s curated playlist. Every time a new tune comes on, test your knowledge and be the first to call out the song’s artist and the song’s title. Keep track of correct responses, and name the winner at the end of the journey!
6. Hypotheticals~ Have your family answer hypothetical questions such as, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” or, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Let everyone have a turn answering the question and give rewards for the funniest, most inventive, or creative answers.
7. Hangman~ This game requires a pen and paper, and is an absolute classic! The game starts with a player thinking of a word and writing down the appropriate number of dashes on the paper. The aim of the game is for the other player to guess letters from the alphabet and ultimately guess the word. If the player guesses a correct letter it is inputted on top of the dashes. However, if an incorrect letter is suggested, then a line is added to the creation of the hangman image. If the hangman is completed before the player guesses the word, then they lose the game! The hangman is completed after six incorrect guesses. (Adding toes, fingers, eyes, and hair to allow more guesses is totally acceptable too).
8. Storytelling~ Someone starts by telling one sentence of a story. Each person needs to add one sentence to the plot as you work your way through the story. Where will your story take you? You can spice up this game by having one person say an unfortunate statement such as, “Unfortunately, we forgot to bring snacks with us for our trip to the farm.” Another player counters with a positive like, “Fortunately, there will be cookies when we get there.”
9. I’m going to “East Hill Farm”~ To begin, one person kicks it off by saying, “I’m going to East Hill Farm and I’m going to eat…” followed by something that you can eat that begins with A, such as “…apple fritters.” The second player repeats what the first person said, but adds a food that begins with B. “I’m going to East Hill Farm and I’m going to eat apple fritters and brownies.” Continue with the next player repeating the line with the first two items and adding something that begins with C. “I’m going to East Hill Farm and I’m going to eat apple fritters, brownies, and cookies.” And so on with D and the rest of the alphabet. As the game proceeds, it becomes harder because the player has to come up with an item for their letter and also recall all of the items that came before.
10. East Hill Farm Car Trip Scavenger Hunt~ Click on this link for a downloadable EHF Car Trip Scavenger Hunt!
And of course, don’t forget Horse, Horse!
Do you have a favorite, fun and engaging car game? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. See you soon, and safe journeys.
Post written by Jen Hart