Getting Lost and Other Games!

getting lost 2

Updated 9/28/2022

When my kids were young, one of our favorite car games was called “Getting Lost” – a name chosen because it appealed to their sense of adventure!  Sometimes while I was driving in town, I’d surprise them by asking, “what do you think would happen if I turned here instead of going straight, the way we usually do?” Immediately, any child in my car would be excited and on high alert. We were about to get lost!

From that point on, I’d take directions from them. They knew where we were going (probably the library, park, or the store), so the question was, how would we get there now that we were taking a different route? We were playing a mental puzzle, and what might have been a dull trip was now an adventure.

With practice, they learned to tell me when to turn left or right, because if their directions weren’t accurate enough, I might turn the wrong way! Because I couldn’t watch them while I was driving, just pointing and saying “that way” wasn’t enough. They had to tell me with words what they wanted to do, so they wanted to learn left and right. And they had to pay close attention to their surroundings, which meant they were observing everything around them.

Eventually, we’d reach our destination.  Other times, we wouldn’t have a destination.  Perhaps we would just follow something interesting, like the time we followed a huge amount of water in the road.  That time, I recall saying, “I wonder why there is so much water in the road. Shall we follow it to see where it goes?” You bet they wanted to!  What a thinking adventure as they kept guessing what it might be and where we might end up.

When the weather is nice, you can play this game while on a walk, but it will help if you know where you are going, or you might truly end up lost and tired!  Having a car just makes it a bigger game, but both can be fun. They might even want to look at a map when they get home to trace their route.

And the point of it all? It’s more than just entertainment. It’s a way of mentally shaking things up, by giving children something new to think about, and that’s always good for them.

In what other ways can you give your child something to think about and make the day memorable?  It doesn’t take much, but it means a lot to a child! Learning opportunities are everywhere, and the best ones are often not planned, and certainly won’t be found in packaged curriculum.

Originally published at


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.