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Top ten tips for keeping kids amused on long car journeys

In this article we’ve put together a few fun tips on how to keep children amused and entertained on long car journeys. Which will you try first?

This year’s Coronavirus pandemic means more and more of us will be opting for UK staycations and scenic drives as a way of spending quality time with our families this Christmas. And many of us are finding that the privacy of our Motability Scheme cars, rather than public transport, offer the safest way to get around.

For children, car travel can sometimes be challenging and if your child is disabled then there are additional things to consider. So we have put together our top ten tips for ensuring your car trip with a disabled child is one you’ll remember.

1. Play “I Spy”

OK, it’s simple, but it’s fun and familiar and requires little explanation. If your kids are really little, you can use a colour rather than a letter, such as “I spy something green”. For children with visual impairments “I hear” is a good variation on the “I spy” theme. Adult passengers then make animal noises like a cow, sheep or mouse!

2. Take a journey break  

This is particularly important if your child’s disability means they need to stretch their legs. This is often needed by children who have conditions like cerebral palsy or any condition that involves spasticity. Plan journey stops before you set off and check out what facilities are on route, so you can stop off to stretch. Be sure to follow social distancing guidelines and don’t forget your masks!

3. Bring some familiar items

Kids with autism, sensory disorders, listening challenges or other special needs may find fiddling with a toy can help them keep calm, focused and attentive, so bring along some of your child’s favourite toys, blankets or activities, their favourite DVD or TV show. “Fidget toys” can be bought online. 

4. See who can stay silent the longest

A variation on this is to see who can stay asleep for the longest. Drivers love this one. The game works well if your child suffers from fatigue as part of their disability.

5. Listen to an audiobook

Different audiobooks can work for children with different disabilities. The Hobbit, Treasure Island and Swallows and Amazons each have something to offer to a child’s imagination. You can even try something Christmas themed like The Christmasaurus or have a Christmas carol sing-a-long! Just be careful to not distract the driver.

6. Car-igami – or “car origami”.

Great shapes to try are folding frog, cat face, dog face, or paper plane. Just a sheet of paper is needed and the possibilities are endless. Find out how to do it here.

7. Play “Title tune challenge”

Start with EastEnders. It’s memorable and easy to hum. Match Of The Day and The Muppet Show are good ones to try too. You can also include the tunes to your children’s favourite shows. Broaden it out to films if the idea catches on. Batman is a good one to start with.

8. Play “Red car challenge”

This is where you challenge the children to see how many red cars they can count in one minute. According to “Fleet Industry News” 10% of cars on UK roads are red. If red is too easy try the yellow or green car challenge. Most difficult of all is to spot a pink car as they are said to account for just 1% of UK cars.

9. Make up a story

This can be done as a team game with one person making up the first sentence, and the next person adding the second sentence. A storyline or plot is built up as the game continues and it can take you to some unexpected places.

10. Play the licence plate game

This is where you have to spot 10 cars with 02, or 62 in their licence plate. It’s a quick and easy game to play. But beware of cheats!

These are a selection of in-car activities that should keep children amused even on the longest car journeys. But spare a thought for the driver too. Ensure any game playing is calm, non-distracting and safe. And for the sake of both driver and disabled children avoid overwhelming situations. Sensory overload is a common concern for children with certain disabilities like autism so try to avoid situations that may overwhelm or upset your child and distract the driver.

Oh and don’t forget to enjoy the ride too!

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