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10 Learning Games for Everyday Car Rides {Homework Helps}

The following post is from Jennifer Burke, a lifelong educator:

Homework Helps {Make Learning Fun} |

See all of the Homework Helps posts here.

The number of information students is expected to learn before junior high continues to expand. The most successful students are those whose parents take the time to work with them. You may wonder where you’ll fit that into an already packed schedule, but “down time” in the car can be used to your child’s advantage. Whether it’s 5 minutes to the store or an hour’s drive to the soccer tournament, these quick and easy learning games will help sharpen their skills. Even time stuck in traffic can end up being constructive!

1. Letter Strings help kids spell other people’s names. You start by giving them a person’s name.

The next person has to think of a name that starts with the last letter. For example, Luke, Eric, Candace, Esther, Ralph, and so on. Keep going until you can’t think of any more names.

2. Sound Strings teach beginning and ending sounds. (This one’s good for kindergartners but may be hard for them at first because they are so used to thinking only of beginning sounds.) You start by giving them a word. The next person has to say a word that starts with the ending sound of the previous word. For example, you say “jet.” The next person has to say a word that starts with a t, like “tap”. The next word has to start with a p, and so on.

3. Rhyming words help build auditory memory. (This one’s good for the preschoolers in your car.) You say a word, and they think of as many words as they can that rhyme with your word.

4. Expand vocabulary with synonyms. See how many words they can list that means the same thing as common words such as hot, like, little, walk, etc.

5. Teach sentence structure and vocabulary with alliteration. Come up with sentences in which every word starts with one letter of the alphabet ~ but make sure the sentence actually makes sense. For example, Angela’s angry anteater ate all apples and apricots. or Training Toby took Tina ten tries.

6. Do word problems to increase understanding of math concepts. Use your kids’ names, and they’ll be laughing. “Ben took 5 dogs to the park, and Will took 3 dogs. How many dogs went to the park altogether?” With older children, work on fractions, “You and your sister each take five friends to the park. How many swings will we need if one-third of the children like to swing?”

7. Counting learning games also improve math skills. Tailor this to the age of your child. For preschoolers, count backward from 20, count backward from 80 to 60, etc. With an older child, count 100 numbers backward from unusual numbers like “20,015”. Or, count backward by subtracting three each time: 99, 96, 93, 90, etc.

8. “20 Questions” teaches questioning and analytical skills. (Play “10 Questions” with preschoolers.) One person thinks of an object and the other people have 20 questions to determine what it is.

9. “Categories” helps children understand and organize their world. Name all the things you can think of that a farmer needs. Name all the things you can think of that a grocery store worker, airline pilot, doctor, waitress, etc. needs.

10. Improve their recall with the classic Memory game. See how far you can get with “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking a banana.” Next, “I’m going on a picnic and taking a banana and an apple.” Stretch their imaginations with “I’m going on a safari…” or “I’m building a city…”

What learning games do your kids like to play in the car?

Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.