Guess what?

These fun games are perfect for those long car rides.

By Valle Dwight

A simple way to keep young kids laughing on long road trips, guessing games also help build children’s vocabulary, comprehension, and categorization skills. There are many variations, and once you get started, you may find you’re making up your own versions.

The project: Play brain-teasing guessing games

Make it happen: A game for every question

Pose questions that test kids on a wide variety of topics, from geography to popular culture.

  • Who am I?  Think of a person that you all know: a family friend, a TV character, a president, even a pet. Give a few hints to start — for President Barack Obama, you might say, “I am a man who works in Washington, D.C. Who am I?” Let the kids ask yes or no questions. The first one to guess correctly gets to think of the next person.
  • What’s my line? The goal is to guess a person’s profession. You can start to show them how it’s done. For a firefighter, you might say, “It’s always hot where I work, and I wear boots.” Let the kids ask yes or no questions to pick up more details.
  • What number? This can build math sense in a range of ages. One child picks a number between 1 and 20, and when the other kids make a guess, he or she responds with “higher” or “lower.” The first one to hit the right number wins and thinks of the next number. If the kids are really into it, make the range higher. You can also try a money-inspired version: Put several coins (of all types) in a bag, and have the players try to guess the coin based on size, edges, or weight.
  • What animal? This game works on your kids’ knowledge of the natural world. Think of an animal (a koala bear, for instance) and say, “I am a mammal, and I live in Australia.” Then let the kids ask yes and no questions. When it’s their turn, make sure to ask about habitat, favorite foods, and other characteristics to make them think.
  • Where in the world? Give hints about a famous place (it could be a city, landmark, or mountain, for example), and see who can guess where you are. For younger kids, use places they know, like their school or the park. You might start by saying, “I see a tire swing, a water fountain, and some yellow flowers” to describe the park. Let the kids ask questions to narrow it down. 

Valle Dwight is a reporter, writer, and mother of two school-aged boys. She has written for many magazines, including FamilyFun, Wondertime, and Working Mother.