What it is: A car game, perfect for killing time on long (or short) rides.

Best for: A carful of players, from 2 up to 8 or however many fit in your car or van (or bus!)

What you need: A car trip!

How to play: This game is a variation on the alphabet game you play in the car, the one where you look out the window and try to find words that start with each letter of the alphabet, in order. Well, on a recent car trip when our family hit some traffic through a sparsely populated area and were crawling along and needed a way to entertain ourselves, we decided that, instead of looking for signs with words on them, we would just look for objects that start with each letter of the alphabet instead.

So instead of looking for a sign with a word that starts with a letter A, you just look for any object that starts with the letter A, like an arrow, or asphalt. Then move on to B, then C, and see if you can get to Z before the trip is over.

I think the game is best played cooperatively as a group. It’s fun because it’s a little more creative than the other variation. For example, you see a hamburger wrapper lying by the side of the road. It could be paper (P), maybe a wrapper (W), or even litter (L). Use your vocabulary and think creatively and see how far you can get!

It also moves faster than the other version. My daughter and I keep trying to get through the whole alphabet during the trip to pick up the older kids from school, and we’ve almost done it! One of our trickiest letters is I (it was easiest at Christmas time when there were lots of yards decorated with inflatables). (I’m sure letters like U or Q would be even trickier, but we usually don’t make it that far 😉)

Rules: The rules we’ve played by are that the items must be outside the car, and they must be nouns that you can see (so “air” doesn’t count). We also don’t count adjectives (so “blue mailbox” wouldn’t fly for the letter B). But pictures of items do count (so a billboard with a penguin on it counts for P). But feel free to add or adapt your own rules!

Variations: Besides the normal alphabet game, another car I-spy game is the license plate search. Or, if physical objects are too hard, you can always play with brainstorming items in your head, too!

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