Every family member becomes a fairytale teller. The first player begins the story with a sentence such as, “Once upon a time there was a green-haired witch who lived on a mountain with a raven.” The next player thinks of the next sentence, which carries the story on. Use your surroundings as inspiration, and encourage the children to play along. Suitcases become portable treasure chests, mountains become giants' lairs, and rivers flow with enchanted water.
For a longer train journeys, make a noughts and crosses board. You’ll need a roll of washi tape to do this. The inside is sticky, it can be easily removed by hand and does not leave residue. You will also need some white pebbles and other stones or wooden blocks which will be drawn on with a marker. And you’re ready to start. You can download the instructions in PDF format here.
The classic of all train games for children: draw a table and write the words “town”, “country” and “river” in the headings. You can also add additional categories such as “animal”, “profession”, or “name”. One player says the letter “a” out loud, then goes through the alphabet in their head until another player says “stop”. All players must now come up with a word for each category that begins with the specific letter. The first one to fill in the table calls out stop, and all other players must then stop. All the points are then counted. A word that only one player wrote down is worth 10 points. A word that multiple players have is worth 5 points. If a player is the only one to have a word in a category, that word is worth 25 points. The player with the most points at the end wins.
The classic travel game, “I spy”, will make time fly by on the train journey. A player selects an object on the train that is visible to all other players, which the others have to guess at based on its colour - for example the green jacket of the woman sitting in the seat across. The player reveals the colour of the item, “I spy with my little eye, something that is green.” Now the other players must guess the item that the first player selected. The first to guess the correct answer wins.
The objective is to find words with at least one identical word part. In addition to encouraging creativity, it also teaches children to use their words. Player 1 thinks of a concept that consists of two or more words combined. The next player must then create a new concept with the second part of the first word. Example: player 1 says: “back rest”. Since the second part of the word is “rest”, player 2 must come up with a word such as “rest room”, then “room service”, etc. Smaller children may be better suited to a simplified version. One main word is decided on and everyone tries to come up with as many words as possible that contain that word.
Another classic train game for children: one player begins with the phrase, “I packed my bag and in it I put: ...”. They then say an item, for example, “a colouring book”. The next player repeats the sentence entirely and then add a new item to the list. The game goes around and around, and the list is extended. If a player forgets an item or does not remember, they are out of the game.
Do you have a longer journey ahead of you? Make a holiday souvenir, such as a mobile. If your children enjoy playing with paper, you can fold colourful paper aeroplanes or similar on the train journey. You can take these with you at the end of the trip; for example tying pine cones to a pine branch, and then hanging it in your child’s room. You can find many cool origami tutorials here.