“Punchbuggy blue!” Whack!
Or, black and blue and cranky, is more like it, if this is the game the kids are playing on a long car drive.
Many of the “Go Green, Go Local, Go NOLA!” activities this column will feature in the upcoming weeks will be a short drive away, and to help the whole family arrive with sanity intact and shoulders unbruised, here are a few nature-related car games to help backseat passengers keep their minds engaged and their hands to themselves.
1. Playing Rainbow – As simple as it sounds, this game just involves passengers trying to find all of the colors in the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) in order by looking out their windows. There are lots of variations, though, to keep it interesting for older kids and front-seat folks:
- Rainbow colors can be found only in nature (plants, animals, water, sky, etc.) no using cars or signs or buildings!
- Making it competitive – the first one to find all of their colors “wins”
- Super advanced version to play all summer: take a few paint swatch palettes from the home improvement store (they’re free, it’s okay to take some) and cut them into individual color squares. Have each passenger choose a color square blindly (an opaque grocery sack or lunch sack works well) and then try to find that exact color as you drive or during your day’s outing.
2. 20 Questions, WILD STYLE – Each passenger chooses an animal and the other passengers have to ask 20 yes or no questions to try and figure out what it is. This is actually an introduction into dimorphic keying and how animal species are divided and organized. For instance, common questions might include: Is the animal warm-blooded or cold-blooded? Does the animal live in North America? (Not counting zoos, of course, for the trickier members of the family!)
3. Alphabet Animals – Going letter by letter through the alphabet, each person must name an animal that starts with the letter that falls on their turn (e.g.: alligator, bear, cougar, dove, etc.). There are variations on this one, too:
- Making it competitive – the first person to miss their letter loses and must start the game over again, or there’s a point for each animal you name on your turn and no points for a miss, with the person who earned the most points winning at the end.
- Honoring higher skill and knowledge – Bonus points can be given for accurate two word names, such as “black bear” for B or “American Alligator” for A. Bonus points can also be given for scientific names, such as “Alligator mississipiensis” for A or “Drosophila melanogaster” (fruit fly) for D.
- Showing love for the local – to make it truly tough, try to name only animals that live in North America, or even in Louisiana. If you’re carrying wildlife identification books in the car, passengers can race to find animals that live her and suit the letter called.
There are also links to great, printable scavenger hunts for keeping car trips interesting in the article attached below, “Nature activities for the ride to school”.
With these activities, kids will not only enjoy the nature adventures at your destination, but all the nature they can see along the way. Happy traveling!
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