“I Spy” keeps kids awake in the car

Here's how Jennifer keeps the car drowsies at bay:

Thought I'd share: My kids (2 1/2 and 4 yrs old) fall asleep very easily in the car. Sometimes it's a good thing, but sometimes they fall asleep during 15-20 minute drives home, which then interferes with their nap schedule. I can never quite transfer them to their beds without waking them up and then they are crabby the rest of the day from not getting enough rest. My latest trick in keeping them awake is to engage them in a game of "I spy." We all take turns "spying" on objects on the road and guessing what the person is spying. They are completely engaged and it works every time.

For us, I Spy also solves the inevitable sibling sniping that goes on in the back seat. Rather than engage in endless refereeing (and, in so doing, pay attention to behavior I'd rather ignore), I yell out "I SPY…" and suddenly the whining stops and everyone's playing.

What are your favorite in-the-car activities?


  1. margaret says

    One thing that keeps my daughter occupied in the car (she’s nine) is crocheting. We get her a big ball of yarn and a hook, and she’ll spend hours crocheting very long chains!

  2. Baby Advice says

    I think that I Spy is a great car game! I also play kids music and we dance and sing!

  3. Jessica says

    My daughter is two and we spend a lot of time counting – trees, cars, clouds etc…
    If that doesn’t work we read books, or sing songs.
    It’s oh so important that she not fall asleep… cuz dude, a whole day sans nap is baaaad.

  4. Jill in Atlanta says

    On long car trips we talk or sing in rhymes. We first started with Raffi’s “Down by the Bay” song and then started to morph. Sometimes this turns into tongue twisters too. “Whose shoes? Sue’s shoes! Sue’s blue shoes! Two blue shoes!” The funny rhymes keep them giggling and they come up with some great stuff.

  5. Robin says

    We play “I am thinking of an animal” that lives in the … and has .. legs and eats… and keep giving out hints about the animal until someone in the car guesses it.

  6. Danni says

    I also think eye spy is a good activity for kids when they’re in the car. Aside from keeping them awake and busy, it’s also great in developing their imagination and creativity.

  7. Jill in Atlanta says

    Oh, thought of another my father used to do and my kids enjoy. I name an item in our house (for my 6yo, I’d try “stapler”) then tell him that he needs to “walk” into our house from the back door and tell me everything he’d need to do to find that object. He might say, “I have to go about six steps in the kitchen and then turn right into the den and go up the stairs (14 of them) and…” It really works the brain.

  8. reen says

    We play a game based on the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” I start with one of the children’s names, she takes the next line with something she sees, and so on. The novelty never seems to wear off.

  9. Carrie says

    I love this game. The kids do this all the time when they are in the car, and I believe that it greatly contributed to their development.