Summer is the season for vacation, travel, and car trips. Hitting the road often means entertaining kids for endless miles. As kids, we all probably remember playing the license plate game, I Spy, or traffic bingo. If you're in need of some fresh ideas that promote language and communication while keeping boredom at bay, check out these easy, no-prep, screen-free games.
I'm Going on a Trip!
This game is a great way to work on vocabulary, language, and memory skills. The premise is easy - you're going on a trip and each player picks an item to pack. When it's your turn, not only do you add an item to the list, but you also have to remember everything else that the group is packing.
Here's how it works:
The first person says, "I'm going on a trip and I'm going to pack binoculars." Then the next person says, "I'm going on a trip and I'm going to pack binoculars and my swimsuit." Then the next player says, "I'm going on a trip and I'm going to pack binoculars, my swimsuit, and chicken nuggets." And so on. Keep going until the list gets too long to remember. When you forget an item, you're out. The last player left becomes the ultimate packer and wins.
The possibilities are endless - be serious or silly. Change the words to make it a little more interesting... you can go on a voyage, an expedition, or even somewhere specific like
camping in Costa Rica. Pack your suitcase, your trunk, your trailer, or your backpack. Regardless, have fun! If this game gets too challenging for little ones, it's still a great way to work on language, vocabulary, and memory skills. There are ample opportunities to talk about new vocabulary words, like a bandana, canteen, or sun visor. If young kids have trouble remembering items, share memory strategies like repeating items in their head or making associations (ex: "Megan has big feet so she packed flip flops"). May be even making a list of items by drawing pictures on a notepad or writing the words out (which creates opportunities to practice spelling)!
Bigger & Smaller Than:
This game is a great way to work on vocabulary as it requires players to think about categories and the relationship between vocabulary words. Vocabulary isn't just about learning the meaning of words but knowing how words are alike or different. Such relationships help us integrate new vocabulary words with those that we already know and use.
Here's how it works:
One player creates the bigger/smaller riddle and the other players try to solve it. For example, "this thing is bigger than a pool but smaller than the ocean." The giveaway is that we are dealing with bodies of water (a.k.a. the category). What kinds of bodies of water are bigger than a pool but smaller than the ocean? Definitely not a bird bath, a puddle, or the bathtub. Players can play individually or work together as a team.
Here are a few other examples:
Bigger than a bike but smaller than a bus... a car.
Bigger than a goldfish but smaller than a whale... a shark.
Bigger than a backyard but smaller than a forest... a park.
You get the drift. As you can see, multiple answers are possible so give extra hints when needed.
1 Minute Adventures:
Humans have been telling stories from the beginning of time. This game is the Round Robin of storytelling working on all aspects of language, from listening and comprehending the story as it unfolds, adding to the story using growing vocabulary and grammatical skills, to adding story elements (character details, location, time, problem, resolution, etc.).
Here's how it works:
Set your timer for a minute and go! The first player starts the story. "Once upon a time there was a boy named Sam. Sam was not an ordinary boy, he had a special talent. This was not a talent that Sam learned in school, but one that he was born with. It wasn't something that you could see on his face when you met Sam. This special talent was hidden and could only be seen by others when..."
BEEP BEEP BEEP! Time's up!
Restart the timer for another minute and the next player gets to pick up the story and add the next "chapter."
Wherever you are headed, have a safe trip and enjoy the journey! It may be crazy at times, especially with kids, but that's not what you'll remember. Instead, you'll hold on to these wonderful and special moments.