Kids tend to zone out while riding around in a car. Turn their blank stares out their backseat window into inquisitive gazes. Get their minds working through fun learning games. Check out these 5 creative ideas to encourage kids to learn on a long road trip or even if you are just making a quick run to the farmer’s market.  

Letter search

For younger kids who are working on recognizing the alphabet, take them on a visual scavenger hunt. Call out letters and have your child search for letters on signage looking through their window. Even if they don’t see it immediately or before you pass the sign, it makes them aware of letters and words in the outside world. You will know you have made progress with your child when you are waiting at a stop sign and they spell s-t-o-p.

Word search

For older kids, go beyond just letters and call out words for them to find. A little preparation is needed prior to playing this game. If you travel on the same route on a daily basis, familiarize yourself with words you believe your child can read. Call out a word and give them as much time as possible to find it before you drive pass it. It’s a fun game that encourages your child to read outside of books and be more aware of their surroundings.

Practice counting

Take the 10 minutes driving to the store to practice math skills with your child. Little ones can practice counting from 1 to 10, then backwards from 10 to 1. Continue onto harder counting when you feel they can handle more. Counting in multiplies of 2s, 5s, 10s, and 100s are fun and you will be getting them primed for multiplication tables.


Kids who are in the midst of learning their multiplication tables can get in a little extra practice when you are stuck sitting in traffic. Randomly call out problems for your kid to solve. Learning the correct answers to all 12 of them takes a lot of repetition.    


This is the perfect opportunity to help your younger children learn to spell their name. Once they have mastered their name, move on to Mom, Dad, sibling and pet names. Add small words like dog, cat and bird. Build upon their spelling vocabulary with words that interest them like their favorite color, sport and animal. The possibilities are endless.

For older kids, a few minutes of extra quizzing of their weekly spelling words will reinforce them and help boost their performance level. These challenges can help pass the time and makes a few minutes stuck in traffic go by quicker.

Photo Credit: Sara Kendall

This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.

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Sara Kendall writes about travel, parenting and lifestyle. She is just as passionate about photography as she is about writing, so you will find her writing paired with her beautifully captured images. Sara’s work has appeared in numerous print and online publications including the following CLT ones – Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Parent and Epicurean Charlotte. Need travel inspiration? Check out Sara’s travels at