I was recently interviewed by a reporter at our local newspaper (long story about how she found me) about how to entertain your kids during a ferry lineup (other than electronic devices and getting out of the car and walking around). I conferred with Gillian (a ferry veteran) and we came up with the following list of goodies, too good not to share on the blog.
1. Eye Spy... with a twist: You play this one like a visual scavenger hunt, so come prepared with a list of "to finds" that would likely be seen in a ferry line-up. Each item is worth points (can weight items differently according to ease of discovery). The winner can get a small prize or perhaps entertain the family with a song or funny joke.
2. The "Dot Game": using dot paper, draw straight lines (alternating line-drawing turns with your opponent). Try to create boxes, which you then shade in with your unique colour. The goal is to cover more area (through these smaller squares) than your playing partner. Online version here: http://www.superkids.com/aweb/tools/logic/dots/
3. Decorate the car windows: you can find window markers or crayon that will later wash off. Crayola makes some.
4. License Plate scavenger hunt: Bring maps of the US and Canada and see how many license plates you can find from different places. Mark them on your map. Find the capital cities of the provinces or states.
5. Squiggle Game: Take turns drawing a line squiggle on a piece of paper. The person drawing the squiggle can only draw one line, but it can be curvy, straight, angular or all of the above. The other person "completes" the drawing by making it representational - usually the squiggle reminds them of something and that's how they complete the drawing. Once that drawing is completed, that person then draws a squiggle for the other person on the back of that paper and passes it back to their partner. Could be played with the whole family by passing the paper or sketchbook around the car.
6. Graphic Books: Visit a library or bookstore pre-trip and bring along some high interest graphic novels or comics such as: Bone, Asterix, Tin Tin, Calvin.
7. Teeny crafts: Purchase little crafty things from the dollar store, such as pipe cleaners, google eyes, wooden beads, embroidery floss to make little creatures.
8. Tic Tac Toe (of course)
9. Collaborative story telling. Bring along a dice and tell a family story. Each person will roll the dice and the number on the dice determines how many words he/she can contribute to the story. For example, if I roll a 4, I can say, "Once upon a time...". The next person may roll a 3 and say, "there was a...". The next person may roll a 2 and say, "a ferocious..." and the next person may roll a 3 and say, "fluffy white bunny." And so on until the story is complete.
10. Audio books: Nothing beats good audio books, and the library has an ample supply. We like Jim Weiss (also available at Bolen books) http://www.greathall.com/onlinebro.html and Ann Rachlin http://www.funwithmusic.com/
11. Origami and Paper Airplanes: Get some funky paper, an intriguing book, and go to it (Or bring white paper and markers and kids can decorate their paper themselves!)
12. Other games: Klutz has an amazing book about Backseat Survival - it's worth checking out: http://www.klutz.com/catalog/product/1104
13. Professor Noggin: A great "fall back" is a Professor Noggin game (made here in Victoria!). http://www.professornoggin.com/
If you're looking for more ideas than what's offered on this list, try the Mom's Minivan site. She lists 101 things for kids to do in the car or during a road trip - lots of great and creative diversions!