Maths Games to Make Journeys More Exciting

Long journeys can become tiresome for kids if they don’t have enough to do, but bringing an element of competition will make the time fly past. Whether it’s in the car, on the train or bus, or at the airport, why not bring a little more fun and excitement to the journey with these simple Maths games?

  1. Number Plate Addition

This game works particularly well in the car, and requires a sharp pair of eyes (not the driver’s, of course!) to read out the numbers on a vehicle’s registration plate. Everyone then has to add up the numbers, and the first to shout the right answer wins! The best time to play this game would be on the motorway, when there are plenty of vehicles around you to choose from.

  1. Counting Game

A game like this is perfect for younger children to practice their counting, but it can also be made more complex for older children. Give each child a colour car to look out for, and have them count the cars out loud as they see them. This could also be adapted for other journeys – for example, while waiting in the airport lounge you could ask them to count different coloured suitcases.

To add a further dimension to the game for older children, you could ask them to add, subtract or multiply their totals together – for example, 7 silver cars plus 12 red cars. Or if you are out and about rather than in the car, ask them to keep track of a few different colours and keep a tally on a piece of paper. Once home, they could plot a simple graph with the data they have collected.

  1. Spotting Shapes

This game is similar to the counting game, but involves counting a particular shape in the objects they see around them, rather than colours. Start with simple shapes to get them warmed up, and then move on to more difficult ones they may have learned at school, such as hexagons, parallelograms, and different triangles types.

  1. Target Values

Keep on the look-out for numbers with at least four digits during your journey, whether it’s a flight number, a train arrival time, or a number on a road sign. Use the individual numbers to reach a target value of your choice, giving out bonus points for using all the numbers. For example, to make the number 24 by using 3349:

Step 1: 3×4 = 12

Step 2: 12 + 9 = 21

Step 3: 21 + 3 = 24


  1. Guess my Number

Choose a number between 1 and 100 and get your children to ask questions in order to guess the number. For example, they could ask “Is it less than 50?”, “Is it an odd number?”, “Is it part of the 5 times table?” Encourage them to ask a variety of different questions to reach the answer. And if they get stuck, they can also ask you for clues!

We hope these games will bring a bit of excitement to your next journey, while also giving the kids a chance to practice their maths skills outside of the classroom. And if you have any games of your own for long journeys, we’d love to hear them!