7 Fun Car Games That Build Early Literacy Skills

Travelling with the kids can be a fun and exciting adventure. But getting from point A to B is often a whole different story.

Young children are notorious for getting agitated and impatient when it comes to long road trips. But luckily there are a few ways to avoid the constant whines of “Are we there yet?” and keep them happy and entertained – all while building important early literacy skills too!

Here are seven fun car games for your next big family road trip:

I Spy (using sounds)

This is a fun twist on the classic ‘I Spy’ game, and a great way to build your child’s phonics skills and phonemic awareness – essential skills for reading success. To play this game, ask your child to find objects that begin with a sound instead of a letter. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with mmm.”

Story Chain

This is a fun activity that the whole family can get involved in. First, one person says a line that begins a story (e.g. “In a deep dark forest there lived a fox named Jack.”) Then each person builds on the story with a line of their own. Don’t be afraid to introduce unfamiliar words here. This game is great for teaching your child about narrative structure while building their vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Rhymes, Rhymes, Rhymes!

Rhyming is one of the best ways to build your child’s phonological awareness – the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Start by saying your child’s name and rhyming it with another word. Take turns spotting other things along your journey and thinking of as many words as you can that rhyme with it.

Build A Word

This is a sneaky way to encourage some much-needed quiet time during your road trip. Provide a pencil and pen and give your child some letters. Then ask them to make as many words as they can from those letters. Children who are old enough to spell will really enjoy the challenge!

Letter Hunt

This game is ideal for younger children who are just beginning to develop their letter recognition. Choose a word that your child knows (e.g. their first name is a good place to start) and ask your child to spot each of the letters in that word. For example, if your child’s name is Steven, ask them to find the letter S on number plates or road signs, then the letter T, the letter E, and so on.

“Words that begin with…”

Take a few minutes to look for things that begin with a particular letter, for example the letter C. Start the game by giving your child a few examples, such as cat, cup, candle, and ask them to find some more. Word games like this help your child to think about word structures and increase their awareness of letters and sounds.

Category Game

Provide pencils and paper and choose a theme such as the colour green or animals. Ask every person in the car to think of five words that fall under this category. When it’s your turn, take the opportunity to choose new words that your child doesn’t know and explain what they mean.

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