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Stress Free Summer: 10 Games You Can Play Anywhere (Without Supplies)

Summer=road trips. Even if you are not traveling across country, chances are you are spending a great portion of time in the car, waiting in line, on an airplane, or in some other vast space where children get antsy. Even restaurant wait-times seem longer this time of year! Keep behavior on track by engaging kids in these simple, do-anywhere-at-any-time, games:

1. Who Am I?

It’s like 20 Questions, but with a twist. Pick a category (i.e: fruit) and offer clues, “I’m red, grow on trees, and can be put into pie. What am I?” An apple!  Even little ones can enjoy the game, with simple clues. Give challenging, historical or scientific clues to older children for a more complicated version!

2.  Copy Cat

Pick one person to be the “leader” and have them start doing something (like patting their head). Everyone else has to copy that person. For littles, you can simply take turns being the “leader.”  My girls love watching me copy them! For older children, or larger groups, you can send one person (the guesser) out of the room (or have them close their eyes) while a  leader is selected. Have the group then begin the copy-cat activities (hand clapping, nose itching, etc.).  The object is for the guesser to guess who is the leader. Maybe the driver shouldn’t participate in this if you are all in the car..

photo credit: tienvijftien via photopin cc

photo credit: tienvijftien via photopin cc

3. Easy Charades

Take turns acting out an animal (or just doing sounds if you are seated).  The other players guess what you are!  Even little kids can “moo” or “quack.”  This is a great game to stimulate imagination, and get the body and movement involved. Don’t be afraid to go all out.  Demonstrate a really great chicken and watch your children crack up!

4. Would You Rather

Give scenarios and have everyone say what they would rather choose–“Would you rather eat a bug or a snake?”  “Would you rather swim with sharks or electric eels?” Make the scenarios as outlandish as you’d like. Take turns making up questions.

5. Pass the Alphabet

You may have seen a version of this game on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Based on an improv game, this game follows the alphabet in turns.  The first person starts with “A” and says a word that begins with that letter (like alligator), the next person says a word that starts with “B” and so on. For littles, you can keep track of the letters for them. For older children, give them parameters, such as making them have a conversation about something. For example, “Have a conversation about the beach.” The first person would say, “All of these people are here, it is so crowded.” The second person has to start with “B”, so they could say “Beach balls are everywhere.” “Cute swimsuit.” Etc.

6. The Musician Game

I LOVE this game. Take turns naming musicians or bands based on last word of the band name.  For example, the first person might say, “Michael Jackson.” The next person has to name a group/band/artist that starts with “J.” If someone says a one-word artist, like “Madonna” the next person would use the last letter “a” for their band/musician–“Alicia Keys.” Try other categories too, like sports teams or food.

photo credit: jpmatth via photopin cc

photo credit: jpmatth via photopin cc

7. 20 Questions

This is a classic. Since it has been around awhile, everyone plays a slightly different version, so make sure to establish the rules. The person who is “IT” gives a clue to the guessers (such as person, place, or thing). Everyone takes turns asking “yes or no” questions (although I like adding in “irrelevant” as an answer option), up to 20. When you’ve reached 20 questions, everyone takes a turn guessing. The correct person is “IT” next. Here are some different options for playing this game.

8. Add-On Story

Begin telling a story, then pass it on!  The next person adds to the story and then passes it on.  Decide how many rounds you are going to do before you start!  Easy. For another version, and to work the memory, try , “I went to the store and bought a…” Each person adds on an item after listing all the previous items. For example, “I went to the store and bought a balloon.” The next person would say, “I went to the store and bought a balloon and a pencil.”

9. Same Letter Sentence

See who can come up with the longest sentence where every word starts with the same letter! Example: All alligators around Atlanta ate apples.

10. The Song Game

Pick a word (such as candle). Everyone takes turns mentioning a song title  that includes your chosen word (or for more laughs, singing the song)–“Candle In The Wind,” “Sixteen Candles.” For a longer version, or for larger groups, you can work together as teams. Decide, up front, if you will accept only song titles or allow the person/team to sing song lyrics that include the chosen word. Here are some easy words to get you started–love, angel, fire, and girl.

Have fun!  Use this as a quick reference any time you find yourself with some time on your hands. If you find yourselves with children who being acting-up, try engaging them in one of these activities.  Refocus their energy, bond with your children, and save yourself the stress of yelling or time-outs!

stress free summer

Have a great game to share?  Post it in the comments.  It’s been a long time for many of us, so it’s nice to be reminded of games we might have played when we were kids.


  1. Fun! When my kids were little we spent a lot of time in line for Disney rides and we would play “Put a Disney character in your head”. The person who is it thinks of a Disney character, and everyone takes turn asking yes-or-no questions to guess who it is. We got harder as they got older. Like, you can start with Donald Duck and move on to Fauna… and eventually someone like Wilson Matua, the safari tour guide on the CB radio on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

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