Five minute fun activities for busy people to do with little kids

Games + Activities

The Car Target Game

Hard innit? This lockdown lark as a parent. I’ve lost it a few times recently. It’s felt too long, too much, relentless. I’m all out of energy, patience and ideas. And I’m one of the lucky ones. But I can’t just come on here to blog about how flipping’ difficult this all is can I? What good would that do anyone? So instead I am here with a NEW GAME! A maths game for every age.

If you’ve played all the games from my book and the website 100 times already here’s a new one to try. I trialled this out on Instagram stories and lots of you tried it (thank you!) and said it was a hit so here it is.

Now I did this with a large cardboard box and some cars but you can adapt it any way you like. I might try it again with some homemade bean bags and a chalk grid drawn on the driveway.


  • A big bit of cardboard or sturdy paper
  • Blank piece of paper and pencil
  • A marker pen
  • Two different coloured toy cars (I had four cars but I don’t know why because we only needed two)
  • Scissors and tape to create edges or something to create a barrier if your box doesn’t have edges

Set up

  • Cut the box and tape the edges so you create a ramp with a large enclosed landing area. It needs to be a ramp attached to an area which has barriers or edges to stop the cars flying off. See photos if you’re confused!
  • On the landing area draw a grid with numbers written in. Do whatever numbers you think your little one could manage. For Ewan who is nearly six and confident with numbers I did 1-18. I will list variations for different ages below but this is how we played for now.
  • Lean the ramp against a chair or similar. Put the cars at the top. Write a target number on a blank piece of paper. We set the target at 50. Leave for them to find, even in lockdown I am mostly following the Golden Rule.


  • Explain that one car is an adding car and if you send that down the ramp it adds up the numbers, and if you choose the other colour car it takes away. Explain the target you are trying to reach is 50.
  • They select the adding car to start with. Send it down the ramp. Whatever number it lands on write it down then roll it down again, write the second number down and then add them together. The answer won’t have made 50 so they will recognise they need to add more numbers and select the adding coloured car again.
  • They keep sending the car down the ramp adding up on the paper. Hopefully at some point the sum will go over 50, so they will realise they need to use the subtraction car to try and get the exact target number. Eventually hopefully the car will land on the number required to exactly hit the target and you’ve won!
  • The idea is they are adding up and taking away over and over without even realising they are doing loads of maths sums.


  • For very little ones you could just roll the cars down and see what it lands on. If they have an older sibling playing the game as above just give them a turn rolling their car and recognising the numbers in between the eldest one’s go.
  • For a little older, do numbers 1-5 or 1-10 on the landing area and also write numbers 1-5 or 1-10 on a bit of paper and let your little one tick them off each time a car lands on that number. Try to see if they can tick off all the numbers.
  • Or if you want to encourage number writing give them a blank bit of paper to simply write down the numbers they land on. Can they get them all?
  • If they are just getting to grips with addition and subtraction make the grid numbers only 1-10 and the target quite low to start with. You can always increase it as they grow in confidence. Starting with a quick easy win is often the way to go.
  • For children who are older, include a multiply car and make the targets tricky numbers like 362.
  • For siblings like Flo and Ewan, because she is working on recognising numbers 11-20 she took turns with Ewan to roll the cars, and recognised the numbers but he wrote the sums and worked it out. She gave up much sooner than he did, which didn’t matter one bit.
  • If your kids are prone to arguing (this is often me depending on their mood!) then wait until you have two boxes and make up one ramp each!

Lots of people who played along online used Duplo or blocks to create barriers for the cars if the cardboard they had wasn’t enough to also include edges. Some followers let their children make the cars they were using out of Lego or Duplo too as an extra activity. Ewan asked to play again with different target numbers. I just kept altering the target.

If you prefer to watch this sort of thing played out on video here is the link to us playing it on my Instagram Stories.

I really hope this might be a fun one to try. If you manage it and everyone has fun and also learns something then kick your feet up. Homeschooling ticked off for the day, time to crack out the Quarantini’s and celebrate the Bank Holiday weekend the only way 2020 lets us…in the company of the people we live with, who are really now starting to drive us a bit bonkers….! Cheers!

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