9 August 2017

As many families bundle into cars, planes, and trains, the excitement of going away can be overshadowed by a more immediate concern: how do you keep children entertained for long periods of sitting still in a contained space? We’ve come up with some simple, space-friendly solutions to see you through the journey ahead.

Photo of a car travelling across a map

Through playful interaction with the world around them, children are able to develop both physically and mentally. By venturing outdoors into the natural world, whether a garden, park, or farm, children are able to enjoy play as a multi-sensory experience whilst also engaging with their local neighbourhood and those within it. Identifying an outlet for the inquisitive nature of children - with their vivid imagination and creativity – can be tricky during the holiday season. Whether you’ll be in a boat or a buggy, a coach or a caravan, a car or a ‘copter, we’ve got you covered!

Wearing a seatbelt doesn’t mean you can’t get crafty in the car! Whether you fancy colouring in, drawing, or braiding a bracelet, there are plenty of on-the-go art activities to get stuck into. You can even turn creativity into a competition: one person chooses a subject (think about what you drive past – animals, bridges, landmarks) and everyone else has to put their artistic talents to the test – whose will be the best?

There are all sorts of adventures you can have on-the-move. You can explore your surroundings through playing a game like ‘I spy,’ or try coming up with a list of things you’re looking for en-route and the first person to spot them all wins (we call this Car Bingo!). If you’re on a plane or ferry, you just need to concentrate on exploring what’s around you. Equally, a service station stop off for lunch, or a trip to the toilet on the train, can be as exciting as you make it – why not make a map for the next person to follow on their own trip to the loo?

Stories are a great tool for learning and development. Reading is a great way to pass the time, but writing your own story can be just as fun – if not more! There are lots of fun storytelling games for the whole group, too; try creating a tale together, with each of you coming up with a sentence of the story and so on. You’ll be amazed (and amused!) at the turns and twists that occur. Try keeping a holiday diary, and encourage youngsters to write about the stories they’ve starred in (or hope to star in!) over the vacation.

Lots of traditional car games involve a range of listening and communication skills, perfect for people of all ages (and for keeping the driver alert!). Bored of i-spy? Try one of these games instead, and see if you can come up with your own:

  • The name game: a game of endless possibilities! Someone names an animal, and the next person has to name a different animal that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named. Try the game with TV shows, bands, cities, countries, instruments, etc.
  • 20 questions: a game of tactics! One person thinks of something (say an animal or famous person – agree a category in advance).  The other players can ask 20 yes-no questions to figure out what it is.
  • Fortunately-Unfortunately: a game of perspectives! One person begins negatively (“unfortunately, there’s a crocodile in the car”) and the next positively (“fortunately, he’s not hungry”) and the next person continues (“unfortunately, he won’t let me stroke him”) etc.

Make Your Own
We love these DIY portable playsets: they’re pocket sized, cheap (or even free) to make, and you can change the contents as your child’s play interests change. All you need is an empty tin and whatever you want to create – try building bricks, mini games (noughts and crosses with buttons works well), or a personalised art set. You can even create a mobile fishing unit.

Got your own tried-and-tested ideas about how to play in a contained space? We’d love to hear them, join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.