Alphabet search: why it’s a good road trip activity for children
Alphabet search is looking for letters of the alphabet with your child, or encouraging your child to look.
Alphabet search is a fun way to build children’s early literacy skills. It gives your child practice in recognising letters, and it makes this activity fun. Children often love search-and-find games like alphabet search, because they get praise for being the first to find something.
Alphabet search is also a great road trip activity for you and your child because you don’t have to take your attention off the road to do it.
Alphabet search is great as a quick circuit breaker when your child starts to ask, ‘Are we there yet?’
What you need for alphabet search on a road trip
You can do alphabet search anytime you’re in the car with your child. You don’t need anything for this activity, and you don’t need any particular planning.
How to do alphabet search on a road trip
Here are some ideas to get you started on alphabet search on your next road trip:
- Start by reminding your child that you can’t take your eyes off the road, so you won’t be able to look if your child is pointing to something in another direction.
- Ask one person to pick a letter. Everyone else tries to find the letter on number plates, street signs, expressway signs or advertising material that you pass on the road. The person who finds it first picks the next letter. Or you can take turns to pick letters.
- Make the game more exciting by putting time limits on the search. For example, ‘How many letter Ms can you find in five minutes?’ or ‘Can you find five letter Es before we pass a red truck in the other lane?’
Keeping children happy and engaged can help with child car safety. For safety, it’s also important to make sure your child knows that you can’t turn around while you’re driving.
Adapting alphabet search for children at different stages
There are many ways to adapt this simple search-and-find game for your child’s age, abilities and interests.
For example, many children will enjoy looking for numbers rather than letters sometimes. This can be a great way to build early numeracy skills.
Here are ways to adapt the activity for younger or less confident children:
- Make the activity more collaborative – for example, ‘Let’s find an O. Is that one on the beginning of the street sign there? Can you see it? It looks like a circle’.
- Ask your child to look for colours rather than letters – for example, ‘Let’s find a red car’.
- Ask your child to look for shapes rather than numbers – for example, ‘Let’s find a circle’.
Here are ideas for older children or more confident children:
- Ask your child to find the letters of a word. For example, ask your child to find the letters of their name. Your child might find the first letter on a street sign, the second on a number plate and so on.
- Ask your child to find combinations of numbers that add up to another one. For example, you could ask your child to find numbers that add up to 12. Your child might find 6 and 5 first, and then have to keep looking until they find a 1.