Easy Games for Looooooong Road Trips

“Mom! He’s looking at me again!”

“Dad! Her left thumbnail just crossed the invisible yet clearly defined boundary that separates my area of the couch from hers.”

“Mom! I know the baby is screaming at the top of her lungs in a rear-facing car seat that situates her mouth less than 3 feet from your ear drums, but I’m certain you must be unable to hear her clearly so I’m going to add to the general cacophony of noise with punctuated reminders that she’s still crying.”

Boredom often leads to bad attitudes and behaviors in kids that drive us crazy. I’m in awe of ancestors who boldly traversed the Oregon Trail despite terrible Wi-Fi signal and pretty much nowhere to charge their ipads or DVD players!

Today we have audio books, portable DVD players, and endless Adventures in Odyssey episodes to occupy young minds. I appreciate these things and use them with my own kids, but I also know that Superdad won’t always be here to swoop in and rescue them from boredom and bad attitudes. My kids need to personally learn the art of enjoying Jesus in the midst of boring or unpleasant experiences. One way I help my kids (and other people’s kids) do this is by teaching them simple games that help their minds develop habits of pointing out positives, focusing on fun, and counting their blessings. You can do this with kids too!


Easy Games for Bored Kids

Thank You Tag

This game begins training young minds in the helpful habit of actively looking for things to be thankful for. My kids simply take turns looking for things to thank God for from the comfort of their crash-tested age appropriate car seats on looooooooong car trips. All they have to do is spot something to thank God for and say “Thank you God for (fill in the blank)!” then “tag!” the next person is “it” and it’s their turn to find something NEW to thank God for since you can’t count a blessing that has already been counted by someone else. (My littlest kids sometimes giggle and thank God for dinosaurs, pizza, and other things that I’m pretty sure they can’t actually see from the car window, but we let this slide due to fact that whoever designed five point harness car seats clearly failed to consider the range of vision a toddler would require for games such as this.) No lollygagging allowed. When it’s you’re turn you’ve gotta speak up pronto or you’re out. This game is much more fun when parents play too so maybe you should get some practice. I asked my son to look at this picture and gave him 30 seconds to tell me things he could thank God for. His answers are below, but before you peek at them, take 30 seconds and see what you come up with for yourself. Ready, set, GO!!!!

My beloved boy found: “Roads, lines on roads telling us where to go because without them we’d probably be dead from a crash. (Thanks son, your confidence in my driving abilities is inspirational.) Grass, mountains, snow, telephone poles so we can talk to Grandma and Grandpa. Power lines because without them we’d have no video games and it would be harder to cook meat so we’d probably get sick more often. I mean, we could use fire, but that would take forever! The sky, the color yellow, and the *cheesy grin* computer I’m seeing this picture on.

It’s easy! If my kids can do it, so can you. Tag–you’re it! Go find something to thank God for.

Quote or Quit

It’s pretty self-explanatory. You take turns quoting verses. When it’s your turn you either quote a verse that hasn’t been quoted yet or you have to quit. (And let’s be clear, if you quit before me that means I win and you lose. None of this “everybody’s a winner” nonsense.) I’m a bit of a softie though, so I’ll let my princesses repeat the same verse or Scriptural truths such as “God loves me!” over and over, but my beloved boy is old enough to hold his own in this game. This game is a great way to enjoy Jesus by speaking the living Word of God. It also helps your kids see that Scripture memory isn’t just something you make them do, it’s a vital Christian discipline that you, the parent, actively practice for yourself. (Or at least you’d better practice if you hope to outlast your kids in this game!)

The Animal Game

Just think of a fascinating animal God made and provide the kids with clues to help them guess it. (If you happen to be in need of fascinating animal facts, check out our blog articles about animals or creation.) This is one of our favorite games to play in the car. My kids also enjoy taking turns thinking of animals for the rest of the family to guess. Even kids who are too little to guess critters like the Brookesia chameleon (Which my beloved boy recently informed me is the smallest lizard on earth.) will still enjoy making animal sounds with you as you give clues about the mystery animal. And if they happen to guess “monkey,” but can’t quite pronounce “Lion-tailed macaque” you’ll go easy on them, right?

These are just a few games we play to help our kids thrive while we drive or any other time they’re bored. Why don’t you try one out the next time your kids are bored? Rather than viewing boredom as a headache, let’s shift gears and ask God to help us use it as an opportunity to teach kids new skills that will help them enjoy Jesus even when they’re bored.

Don’t have kids? Fear not! You can still use these games. I’ve been teaching games like this to kids in Sunday School, AWANA, Good News Club, and VBS for years. It’s a fun way to help them learn how to apply the truth of a Bible lesson or memory verse. For instance, if Genesis 1:1 is your memory verse, you can challenge the kid to play “Thank You Tag” with their parents to thank their Creator on the way home. AWANA students can be encouraged to play “Quote or Quit” with their siblings to review past verses. You can even play these games yourself when you’re bored out of your mind. (Mentally thanking God for each individual ceiling tile, light bulb, and chair in the room has helped preserve my sanity in the midst of many dull experiences.)

Do you have more ideas for breaking boredom and helping kids enjoy Jesus? Please share them in the comments–the more the merrier! With a bit of divinely initiated creativity, boredom blossoms into blessings as kids experience the wonder of enjoying Jesus.

Nathan Hamilton
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