Boost Observation Skills with These 5 Car Games

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Looking to boost your child's observation skills? Give these car games a try on your next road trip.

Boost Observation Skills with These 5 Car Games

Paying attention to details is an essential skill. You can help your children boost observation skills as you’re driving along with these five games.

They are easy to learn, and you won’t need any special supplies to play. They’re all material free!

1. Geometric Shape Search

Basic geometric shapes make up almost everything around us. This game hones your child’s power of observation, helping her pinpoint those shapes in objects.

To play, one player calls out an object seen from the window. Everyone else looks at the object, and then begins calling out basic geometric shapes that they would use to draw that object.

Older player can give more details about size and placement of those objects. Younger players can just spot the shapes.

Then, let another player call an object. Continue for a few rounds, letting everyone call out a couple of objects.


One player calls out: Semi Truck

The other players might say:

A large rectangle, turned on its side makes up the trailer part.

The wheels are circles.

There’s a square window.

A pipe coming out the back looks like a cylinder.

I see a triangle in the letter A on the sign on the side.

The cab is like a rectangle and a square put together.

Once you’re done describing the semi-truck in as much detail as possible, move onto another object. For example:

Another player might pick: That brown road sign

The other players could notice:

Two pipes holding up the sign look like cylinders.

The sign is shaped like a rectangle.

There are smaller squares inside the rectangle, with information in them.

2. Observation Boosting I Spy

By taking I Spy to the next level, you can boost observation skills. Here’s how it’s played.

One person goes first, and secretly picks an object inside the vehicle that’s visible for the other players.  Then, this player begins to describe the details that make up this object.

For instance:

I spy an object made of only curved lines.

After each clue, let the other players try guessing a bit. If no one gets it, add more details:

The object I spy is smaller than a CD.

Or, the object I spy is shiny and black.

Keep going until someone guesses what you’ve spied (a knob on the dash in this case). Then, let someone else pick an object.

3. Do You Remember?

Help your kids improve their situational awareness by encouraging them to pay attention to their surroundings. While you’re at a rest stop or eating lunch, take a few minutes to take in some details. Then, quiz your kids when you get back on the road. You might ask do you remember:

  • What color car we parked next to?
  • How many stalls were in the restroom?
  • What kind of dogs were being walked?
  • What kind of car did we follow as we got back on the road?
  • How many picnic tables were on the grass?
  • What did the sign by the garbage cans say?

You can also ask your kids to ask you questions. It’s a fun way to improve observation skills.

There’s always so much going on, and you can look at something without actually seeing it. This game helps train the brain to take in those details and remember them.

4. Harness Your Holmes Power

Sherlock Holmes was famous for paying attention to the details around him. He could deduce most anything by simply taking in all of those details that most people miss.

He was a people watcher, and used his observation skills to learn a great deal about people without them speaking. This game encourages your kids to harness this power for themselves.

It also encourages imagination!

To play, point out a car on the road next to you. Ask your kids some questions for them to answer based on what they notice and what they deduct.

Here are some examples:

Question: Where do you think that car is heading?

Answers: The license plate if from the state next to us. We’re driving in that direction, so I think they’re going back home.

Another answer: They have bikes strapped to a carrier on the back, and a carrier up on top. I think they’re heading out on a camping adventure.

There’s obviously no right answer in this game. You won’t be able to actually ask the driver where they’re heading. So you just have to make educated guesses based on what you see.

Here’s another question:

How old is the child in that backseat?

Possible answer: She’s sitting in a booster seat, so she is probably younger than 8. I think she’s 6.

Another answer: She’s reading a book, so she is probably school age. I think she’s 7.

Sample question three:

What is growing in that field?

Possible answer: It’s green and fairly tall. I can see a swather sitting in the next field over. I think alfalfa is growing for farmers to cut for hay.

Another answer: I see some yellow flowers on some of the plants. I think mustard is growing.

And so on. Take turns asking and answering questions, boosting observation skills for everyone in the car as you go.

5. Left, Right, or Straight Ahead?

Are you heading somewhere your child has been a few times before? This game is perfect for those mundane car trips–like when you’re going to the grocery store or Grandma’s house.

Once you get on the road, have your child call out the turns you need to take, before action is needed to make those turns.

He can use words like left, right, or straight ahead to help you get where you’re going.

This game teaches your child to learn more about the places you travel often. I often make my oldest daughter play this game, because she’ll be driving before I want to admit it.

I want her to have a basic understanding of how to get places. This game teaches that.

Boost Observation Skills in the Car

Do you have other ideas for games that boost observation skills? I’d love for you to share them in the comments!

For more car games, check out these posts:

Why I Play Car Games with My Kids

5 Social Studies Car Games for Kids

5 Math Games to Play in the Car

7 Simple ELA Car Games

5 Science Car Games for Your Next Road Trip


Photo credit: Adrian via Unsplash





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