10 Car Games for Kids That Don’t Involve Screens

While the easiest thing to throw in the backseat may be a tablet, there are screen-free activities that will keep even the youngest of your clan entertained for hours

Kate MacLean
1 / 10

All 50 States

If you’re going to be covering some distance, this is a great game to have for the kids that can last hours, days, or even the entire summer as they try to spy license plates from all 50 states. This will get them looking out of the car and there is an added excitement over who will get which state first.
2 / 10

Guessing Game

A classic kids' game from your youth in a compact travel edition. Does your guy have red hair? Does he wear glasses? The kids will last many rounds as they start to learn the physical details of these 1980s icons.
3 / 10

Doodling the Day Away

Technically this is a screen, but the Scribble and Play board brings the beauty of technology and holds it back at a reasonable distance. Kids can doodle, scribble, draw, and play tic-tac-toe, hangman, or any number of drawing games with these tablets. There is a simple erase button that makes clean-up a breeze. This fosters creativity without having to pack loads of crayons that wind up dropped on the backseat floor.
4 / 10

Jam Session

A musical instrument may seem like a stretch at first glance, but why not? Your child is strapped into a seat—give her the opportunity to play around on a new instrument. These kiddo ukuleles fit easily into the footwell and the sound is so much more pleasant than listening to an endless stream of Kiz Bop songs.
5 / 10

Don’t Sink My...

B3...miss...C4...hit! Another classic game from your youth. This requires two players and each game comes with two boards that are perfect for the car (though do be prepared to potentially find the little pegs in between the seats).
6 / 10

Backseat Sculptors

These crayon-like bendy, twisty, molding sticks allow children to sculpt and create all sorts of shapes and structures, thereby releasing some energy and allowing the entire car to take a collective relaxing breath.
7 / 10

Roadside Blues

If it seems like your children have too much desire to, ahem, exercise their vocal cords, try putting a harmonica in their hands and see if you can’t turn that noise into a bit of music. This one comes with a beginner’s songbook that could help turn a torturous drive into an impromptu blues set.
8 / 10

Eagle Eyes

Too often kids get so wrapped up in requesting snacks and inquiring “Are we there yet?” that they forget to look out the window and take note of the surroundings. This travel bingo brings the observer out in them, and soon they will have their faces pressed against the glass trying to be the first to find a sheep or a bluebird.
9 / 10

Better Than Paint

The refillable water pen allows the kids to “paint” their coloring book with water and watch the colors come alive on the picture before them. Once the scenes dry, the colors “magically” disappear and they can be “painted” all over again. The Water Wow series comes in a variety of themes and includes more educational versions, too, for practicing ABCs and 123s.
10 / 10

Wee Weavers

Young boys and girls will love the gratification of weaving that this loom provides. You can get the loops in all manners of colors and then have your own little production line for new potholders going in the backseat.