Legacy Of Fun

A Kinder Gentler Slug Bug For Kids

Leave a Comment

slug bugs

The American Standard rules of “Slug Bug” commence thusly:

  1. While on an excursion, look about for a Volkswagen Beetle.
  2. Once spotted, wildly shout “Slug Bug!!!”
  3. In the same action, and with a jabbing motion, connect the bony part of your fist with a soft fleshy part (typically the upper arm or thigh) of a companion.

Penalty play:

  1. If you strike a companion, but another player called slug bug first, you are in penalty.
  2. If you call “slug bug” on a vehicle previously called… you are in penalty.
  3. If you call “slug bug” on a vehicle deemed NOT to be a VW Beetle, you are in penalty.

Penalty delivery:
The person you “slugged” gets to strike you twice in return.

Playing as a youth, the joy of this game was wrapped up in the exhileration and fear of sudden pain.

It was an activity that changed a mundane car ride into an excercise of determined focus and thrill… well, that and the above mentioned “sudden pain”.

No longer a youth and finding myself the father of a 5-year old, the game of slug bug has re-entered my life, but in a modified form that I will share in a moment.

Let it be said that while I look back on the game with fond memories, I do not want my daughter’s earliest memories of me to be filled with shouting and pain.

Hence the following rules, created by my 5-year old, which I now call…

Zoe’s Mutable Game of Points

  1. While on an excursion, look about for the appropriate objects (see below)
  2. Once spotted, wildly shout the appropriate power words (see below)
  3. Rejoice that you manged to score a point not already claimed by the 5 year old.

Current list of appropriate objects and their associated power words:

ObjectPower Words
VW BeetleSlug Bug!
United States FlagTag!
Any other flagFlag Tag!
DogFlog Dog!
BoatBoat Club!

I know there’s another, but I can’t remember… I’ll kick myself the next time she scores it.


Note that there is no official recording of scores. Your score will typically be indicated by phrases such as:

  • “Daddy, I have so many points, you’ll never catch up,” or
  • “That’s okay daddy, you can have some of my points”.

Optional rules:

(By “optional” I mean they come up frequently, but you won’t know they are in play until they are first used by the 5 year old)

  1. If an appropriate object USED to be there but is not currently, it’s fair to call.
  2. If the 5 year old called it in their head, but forgot to say it out loud, they still get the points
  3. Certain excursions are completely exempt from the game and no points can be scored. In which case, power words are still used, but prepended with the words “plain old”. For example (usually said as a light sigh): “Plain old slug bug…”
  4. On the rare occassion where the 5 year old is struggling for points, the “all points acquired by anyone are shared with everyone else” rule may be instated.

This is a fun game and a great way to make car rides more fun.

If you play something similar, what are your “appropriate objects” and “power words”?

What other games do you play in the car?

Click here for more articles similar to this one

If you like what you read, please signup for my newsletter!

Be the first!


(Required, but will not be displayed)


Textile help