Games to play in the car

22 June 2018 ( 26 April 2017 )

Three great games to play on long journeys in the car - taken from Ivan Brett's book, The Floor Is Lava.

Car Cricket

Turn traffic into a game with this excellent ‘cricket’ match.

What you’ll need

• A road with plenty of cars

• Absolutely no prior knowledge of cricket

How to play

First of all, you’ll need a steady stream of cars. Too many and you’ll lose track – too few and you’ll get bored.  If you’re on a motorway, you can use cars that pass (or you pass) on your side.  If you’re on a quieter toad, you can use cars that pass in the other direction.

The game works as follows: each player will take it in turns to ‘have a bat’.

Just like in cricket, you are aiming to score runs, without getting bowled out, each time you pass a vehicle, you should add on a different number of runs~:

• If you pass a car (not white) then you score 1 run.

• if you pass a van, caravan or lorry (again, not white) then you score 2 runs.

• if you pass a motorbike or bicycle then you score 4 runs.

• If you pass any rare vehicle (such as a horse drawn carriage, boat, witch on a broomstick, horsebox) then you score 6 runs.

• if you pass a car lorry, you get 1 run for every car on the car lorry, plus 2 for the lorry.

However: if you pass a white car then you are OUT!

• if you pass any other white vehicle, as long as it isn’t a car, then you add no runs for that vehicle, but you are not out. It’s a ‘dot ball’. Close one!

Once you are out, note down or remember your score, and the game immediately passes to the next batsman. The game works best if each player has at least two innings, then adds up their total score from each one.

Level up

If you’re a stats nerd, like me, then somebody should have a piece of paper or a device to note down all the scores. Then you can work out batting averages, longest innings, fastest scorers and all sorts of other things. There’s no good reason to do this… which is all the better reason to do it!

Sail the seven seas

Turn your journey into a pirate adventure.

What you’ll need

Nothing at all

How to play

Everyone in the car is a bloodthirsty pirate. There are various things throughout your journey that you should keep your one good eye out for:

• If your car stops directly beside another, shout ‘Fire the cannons!’

• If you see a pond, lake, sea or river, shout ‘Sail the seven seas!’

• If you pass a pub, shout ‘Ho ho ho and a bottle o’ rum!'

• When you see a sign with your destination, shout ‘Land ahoy!’

• Every time you see a car with a broken light, hold one hand over one eye and shout, ‘Arrr, me eyepatch!’

• Every time you see a bird, shout ‘Pretty Polly!’

 • Every time somebody crosses the road, should ‘landlubbers!’

The aim is to be the first person to shout any of these pirate calls. Remember, it only counts if you do it in your best pirate accent.

Level up

This game lends itself very well to creativity. When would you shout ‘Walk the plank!’ or ‘Arr, treasure!’, for example?

5 tips to keep kids amused in the car

How did Liverpool get its name?

Pick a place and tell the story of how it got its name.

What you’ll need

Road signs with plenty of good names on them

How to play

I made up this game with my dad on the way up to Scotland on our summer holidays. Its such fun, especially if you really pretend to know what you’re talking about.

If you’re in the UK there are thousands of oddly named towns and villages, but even if you’re driving through a place where everything nearby has a pretty normal name, that just means you’ll have to work your imagination a bit harder.

Now tell the other players the story of how your place got its name. Try to break the place name down into smaller words, then use your story to build those together into a satisfying conclusion. The sillier your story is the better.


A Viking hunter named Ulf liked to hunt deer in the local woods. He would bring them home and roast them over his fire, handing out crispy chunks of venison meat to all his friends and relations. However, the one part of the deer that no one wanted to eat was the liver.

“Too salty!” some would say, or “Too tough!”

Every time, the liver was left over. Afterwards, the skin was tanned and made into clothing, the bones ground down to make bonemeal, but the liver remained on the side, hated by all. So Ulf would be forced each time to throw the liver into a nearby pond.

Ulf was such a good hunter that even when hundreds of people cam e to build their Viking huts near his house he was still able you hunt enough deer to keep them all fed. But with more deer came more livers, still uneaten, and thrown into the pond. Eventually the pond was swimming with livers, full to the brim of the stinking slippery things, and it began to be known as the Liver Pool.

So famous was Ulf’s Liver Pool that Viking people flocked from far and wide to see it. And that’s how Liverpool got its name.


• It’s quite good fun if every player has a go at describing how the same place got its name. You’ll be surprised at how different everybody’s ideas will be.

• if you’re struggling to think of an idea and breaking the name down doesn’t help, remembered that over thousands of years of our history, the spellings and pronunciations of names have changed hugely, so be quite free with it. For example, Manchester could be broken up into ‘Mad Jester’, ‘Munchy Star’ or ‘Man Just Here’. Try saying the place name lots of times, really fast, until the edges start to blur.

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