Best Road Trip Learning Activities for Special Needs Kids

Siblings are having fun with their road trip activities sitting in the backseat on their family vacation this summer.

Are you going on a road trip this summer? With those amazing adventures often comes extended periods of time cooped up in the family vehicle.

Sure, technology today makes it far easier to pass time than it was years ago, but why not also take advantage of this time to provide additional (fun!) learning opportunities for your children? (And save the excitement of new DVDs and apps for nighttime when it’s a bit more challenging to play these games!)

Simple (But Fun) Interactive Learning Activities To Play On The Road

Here are three easy games to play, that require little additional space or packing supplies, and are adapted from games I have used regularly in my classroom.

#1 ABC Word Search

No, this is not your typical “search, find, circle with a pencil” word search. This is a real, live, searching for words activity.

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Starting with the letter “a,” look around for any word that starts with this letter. When someone finds the word and reads it accurately, they get a point (or not, totally up to you!)

Then everyone moves on to the next letter, “b.” Play continues until you find words that begin with each letter all the way through the alphabet…in sequential order, of course!

Set a timer and see how many times you can complete the alphabet before the time is up. Or, play throughout your trip and see how many times you can get through the alphabet before you reach your destination.

You can even add challenges and earn “bonuses” for words over a certain number of letters or find two words with the same letter on the same sign.

Add different challenges to keep it interesting and/or for differentiating the game for children of different ages.


#2 Traveling Tally Marks

Pick a few objects and record tally marks of how many times you see the objects. Pick things such as:

  • White vans
  • 18-wheelers
  • Cars with bumper stickers
  • Cars with 5 people in them
  • Out of state license plates

You can either have everyone playing the game keep track of their own tally marks and then compare results at the end. Or just one person keeps track of the objects everyone sees.

Set a timer and see how many you find in a certain time frame or play until your next rest stop. Then, have your child count the tally marks and ask them different mental math questions about the information.

For example, questions can include:

  • Which object did we see the most of
  • Round each number to the nearest ten
  • How many ____ and ___ did we see?
  • How many more ____ would we need to see to get to 50
  • What is the average number of objects we saw?

Again, questions can be tailored to children of different ages.


#3 Kinesthetic Spelling

Simply give your child a spelling word (orally), and have them spell it on another child’s hand or leg, or yours, using their finger tip. (In the classroom, we did this activity on each other’s back, but if that can’t be done safely the above options work just as well.)

You can also have your child spell a “mystery word” on someone else and that person can guess the word that was spelled. You can use sight words they learned this year, vocabulary words from content areas, or even pick a category.

Some category ideas could be:

And see how many words they can spell or guess correctly in a row!

#4  Learn a Foreign Language

A long road trip is a great time to practice conversations. Kids love to talk in other languages even if it is just a few words. You may be able to find CDs at your local library. If not here are some from Little Pim.

#5 Road Trip Fine Motor Skills Activities

There are many activities your child can do that helps to improve their fine motor skills. And they don’t have to practice writing.  Try some of these:

  • Sewing
  • Crochet
  • Embroidery
  • Knitting
  • Legos
  • Playdough
  • Sticker books
  • Magnetic puzzles
  • Beads
  • Friendship bracelets
  • Those activity boards with zippers and shoelaces
  • Take a look at this collection of Family Travel Activities on Amazon


#6 Problem-Solving Activities to Do On a Road Trip

Problem-solving activities are for any age. Here are some ideas:

Where is the Road Taking Your Family this Summer? 

Hopefully, these fun and easy games that require few (if any) materials will make your travel time fly by this summer. And it will not only keep students learning but perhaps also decrease the “are we there yet” questions!

Also, continuing these types of activities throughout the summer break can help stop information regression (for certain children) much as you’d find in an ESY program.

Your child could also benefit from a one-hour-a-week tutoring session from our special education tutors. The amazing part? You can do this from ANYWHERE (on vacation or at home). Get a free consultation today!

What activities has your family found work on a long road trip? Share in the comments below. Here’s to an amazing summer!


A boy and girl are having fun with their road trip activities sitting in the backseat on their family vacation this summer.
A summer road trip can be a blast, however, the actual car time can be a drag… try these road trip learning activities that kids will love!


Picture of Shannah Holt

Shannah Holt

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