Tag Archives: Card Games for Kids

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Enjoy Family Road Trips with Classic Travel Games

Half the fun of family travel is “getting there”, right? Whether you’re embarking on a Great American Road or Train Trip, or merely hoping to get from Point A to Point B with your humor intact, a few tips and classic travel games will surely make the going more pleasant.

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Family Travel Tips

  • Involve kids in the planning or have them follow the trip’s progress on a map. If you’re an AAA member, maps are free. Some kids may want to keep a trip journal and add photos when they get home.
  • Have food and drinks on hand, if possible, and take frequent breaks to eat, use restrooms, or just stretch your bodies.
  • Remind kids who are on screens to take breaks, to play a game or look around at the passing, and sometimes awe-inspiring world
  • Pack along a few portable items for outdoor breaks and quiet times, so you can play card games, jump rope games, Mad Libs or jacks.
  • Play some of the tried-and-true road trip games, below, that don’t require any equipment. They help make family memories when you’re driving, flying, or waiting in line.

Tried-and-True Road Trip Games

What I See From A to Z

Players try to find letters in license plates, billboards, road signs, or objects and must call out “I see an A,” or “I see something that starts with B,” when they spot a letter.

The first person to complete the alphabet wins. A variation for younger children is to pick one letter and have everyone look for that.

Semi Search

If you’re traveling on the interstate, you will probably have a lot of trucks for company, and this fun game makes use of that.

Each player chooses a different color. That color will be the color of truck trailer that the player is then searching for. Players announce when they see a semi on the road in their color, and they get one point for each.

A scorekeeper can be appointed to keep count, or everyone can keep their own score. The game is played until one person reaches 25 points, or another agreed-upon number.

Travel Scavenger Hunt (also known as Travel Olympics)

You’ll need: Pencil and paper for each player

Players all contribute to one list of 10-20 things they can see from or do in the car. For example, a list might include passing a cow pasture, seeing a gas station that has the color red in its logo, holding one’s breath through a tunnel, spotting two yellow license plates, or passing an RV.

The first person to accomplish everything on the list wins.

License Plate Scramble

The first player calls out all the letters, in order, that appear on a passing license plate.

All players try to create a word using those letters, in the same order. The first person to do so gets a point. For example, a player might call out ARN, and he, she, or any other player might come up with “arachnid” or “yarn”.

Decide if you want to play to a certain number of points, like 25. The first player to reach that total wins.

O.S.L.P.

Players search passing cars for “out of state” license plates (out of the state they are currently traveling in.)

When such a plate is spotted, the player yells, “O.S.L.P.!” If they are the first to see a particular plate, they score a point.

Decide if you want to play to a certain number of points, like 10. The first player to reach that total wins.

I Spy

One player decides on an object that all players could conceivably see and says, for instance, “I spy with my little eye .. something that begins with the letter A” or “I spy with my little eye .. something that is blue.”

Other players take turns trying to guess what the object is.

When players run out of guesses, the first player gives another clue and other players guess again.

The person who guesses the object gets to be the next spy.

What Animal Am I?

One player thinks of an animal. Other players ask “yes” or “no” questions to determine what animal the first player is. Players might ask, “Do you live in the ocean?” or “Do you have four legs?”

There is no limit to the number of questions. Players can simply give up when stumped and choose who gets to be the animal next. Otherwise, the player who guessed the animal gets to be the next up.

Rock, Rock

This is a good group game for rest stops or outdoor settings.

You’ll need: A rock or coin

Players sit or stand in a circle, palms out to their sides, facing up. Right palms should be directly over right neighbor’s left palm, continuing around the circle. One player is in the center of the circle. That player momentarily closes his or her eyes while the rock is given to someone in the circle. Each player lifts his or her right hand and moves it across the body to the left neighbor’s right hand. The person with the rock in hand does this as well. After a couple of such motions, the person in the middle opens their eyes. The rock moves around the circle but, because everyone is making a passing motion, the person in the middle can’t see where it is. As the rock moves around the circle, players chant, in rhythm with their hand motions:

Rock, rock where do you wander?

In one hand and out the other.

Is it fair? Is it fair?

To keep poor _____ (name of player in the middle) sitting/standing there?

At the end of the chant, the person in the middle guesses where the rock is. If he or she guesses, correctly or doesn’t guess after three tries, the person with the rock goes into the middle. (If that person has already gone in the middle, you can  have the person next to them, clock-wise, go in.)

Have fun on the road, and wherever your adventure takes you!

Road trip activities are adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains more travel games in addition to 300+ fun family activities.

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

Enjoy Roadside Attractions Along California’s Redwood Highway
12 Fun Family Activities for Screen-Free Week
8 Fun Things to do While it’s Still Summer
Recess: Playground and Jump Rope Games
Slow Nature: Have a Cloud Race

Graphic: Wood for the Trees

 

It’s in the Cards: Card Games and Card Reading

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Playing cards have captured people’s imaginations since 10th century China, when they depicted coins instead of today’s symbols. I usually pack a deck in a backpack for family outings, and it will keep us busy for hours. Chances are you have a deck of cards somewhere in your home or can buy one inexpensively at a nearby store. Your kids will enjoy discovering the card games of your own childhood, as you enjoy playing them alongside. Snuggle together in sleeping bags on a cold night or start a Family Card Night tradition.

These are some of the most popular and child-friendly card games. They can be played with two or more players.

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Slapjack

This fun, noisy game inspires hand-eye coordination and thinking on one’s feet.

The Deal: Cards are all dealt, one at a time, to all players. It doesn’t matter if some players have more cards than others.

Object: To win all the cards, by being first to slap each jack as it is played to the center.

Players take turns lifting one card from his or her pile and placing it face up in a common pile at the center of the table. Players must be careful not to see their own cards first. Whenever a jack is turned, the first player to slap it takes all the cards in the common pile and places them in his or her own pile.

When more than one player slaps at a jack, the one whose hand is directly on top of the jack wins the pile. If a player slaps at any card in the center that is not a jack, he must give one card, face down, to the player of that card. When a player has no more cards left, he remains in the game until the next jack is turned. He may slap at the jack in an effort to get a new pile. If he fails to win that next pile, he is out of the game. Play continues until one player has won all the cards.

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I Doubt It    

This easy game incorporates some of the bluffing aspects poker. If you’re playing with a large group, use two decks.

The Deal: The dealer gives two or three cards at a time to each player in rotation. On the last round of dealing, the cards are dealt out one at a time as far as they will go.

Object: To be the first player to get rid of all of his or her cards.

The first player places between 1 and 4 cards face down on the table and announces that he or she is putting down as many aces as the number of cards. For example, the player may put down three cards and say, “Three aces.” Each player in rotation discards similarly, announcing the number of cards, and their rank in descending order (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, etc.) Discarding players may or may not be telling the truth. Any player at the table may say “I doubt it” after any discard, and the player who put the cards down has to turn them up. If the player who discarded turned out to have a true statement, the doubter must take the cards in question, along with all the other cards in the pile.

If the statement was false, the player who didn’t tell the truth must take all the cards on the table, including those just put down, and add them to his or her hand. If two or more players doubt the statement, the one who spoke first is the doubter. When a statement is not doubted, the cards remain face down in the pile until they are subsequently picked up. When the play gets down to 2s, the next player begins again with aces. The first player to get rid of all his or her cards wins.

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 Go Fish

This classic matching game is good for the very young.

The Deal: Cards are dealt, one at a time, until an even number of cards has been distributed. Leftover cards go face-down in the center to form the stock.

Object: To get the most pairs.

The first player asks any opponent “Got any threes?”, or another rank card that he or she already has one of. The player who is asked must hand over all the cards requested. If that player has none, he or she says, “Go fish,” and the player who made the request draws the top card from the stock. If a player gets one or more cards of the rank he or she asked for, either through the stock pile, or by “fishing” from others, that player is entitled to take another turn.

Players put down pairs, face-up. If at any time a player is left without any cards in the hand, he or she may draw from the stock pile, and then ask for cards of the rank they just drew. The game ends when all the cards are face-up. The winner is the player with the most pairs.

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Crazy Eights

This fun game involves wild cards and a little memory and strategizing.

The Deal: Cards are dealt, one at a time, until an even number of cards has been distributed. Any leftover cards go face-down in the center to form the stock. One card from the stock pile is turned up to form the starter pile.

Object: To be the first player to get rid of all of his or her cards.

The first player must lay face-up onto the starter a card of the same suit or the same rank. Players follow in turn. If someone has no match, he or she must draw cards from the stock pile until a match occurs. If there is no stock, a player who is unable to play any card in the hand must pass. All eights are wild. A player putting down an eight gets to call the suit that the eight is to represent. The next player must put down a card of the designated suit or another eight. The first player to get rid of all his or her cards wins.

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Card Reading

Cartomancy, or fortune telling with cards, was especially big in 18th century Europe. Even Napoleon was said to have consulted the cards.

You’ll need:

A regular deck of playing cards

Remove the 2-6 cards of each suit. That will leave a 32-card deck with the Aces, face cards (King, Queen, Jack), and 7-10 cards of each suit.

Shuffle cards.

Spread the deck, face-down, and instruct the person who’s having his or her fortune read choose any three cards.

Lay the cards in a row, face-up.

The cards will represent, from left to right, the past, the present and the future.

Ask a question of the cards and see what answer you think the meaning of the cards reveal.

Here are some common meanings of the cards:

Hearts – Love and home

Ace – Happy home, friendship, a love letter

King – A fair-haired man

Queen – A fair-haired woman

Jack – A kind, fair-haired friend

Ten – Good luck

Nine – A wish come true

Eight – Visitors and parties

Seven – Harmony and calm

Diamonds – Business, travel and change

Ace – Good news

King – A fair-haired man

Queen – A fair-haired woman

Jack – A kind, fair-haired friend

Ten – A change bringing good fortune

Nine – A new project, gift or travel

Eight – A pleasant journey

Seven – Surprise news or gift, a small argument will be resolved

Clubs – Business and power

Ace – Happiness and wealth

King – A dark-haired man

Queen – A dark-haired woman

Jack – A kind, dark-haired friend

Ten – Luck with money or friends, travel

Nine – Achievement, possibly through a helpful friend

Eight – A small amount of money, need to surround the self with trusted others

Seven – Success from hard work, a small problem will be resolved

Spades – Fate and caution

Ace – Possible conflict

King – A dark-haired man

Queen – A dark-haired woman

Jack – A dark-haired friend who may be untrustworthy

Ten – A problem that will be solved

Nine – A new beginning

Eight – The need to be careful and flexible

Seven – Advice that is best not taken

These activities are adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains 300+ more fun family activities.

Photos: Hycrest, Judith2You, World of Playing Cards

 

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