Saturday, November 08, 2008

Traveling with Children - Learning Activities for the Road

Traveling with children can be fun as well as very trying. Our family has been traveling with our children since the children were babies. Our children are in their middle school years now, but over the years we have come up with some fun travel activities that keep the children’s attention and teach them something in the process.

While on long trips, it can be very tempting to use the portable DVD player to provide entertainment for your children, and don’t think for a minute that we don’t use that form of entertainment…. for parts of long trips…. but there are so many simple, fun games that you can play with your children that will help make the trip smoother and more enjoyable. Here are some examples of activities that we have used to make travel time smoother.

One of my children’s favorite games is what my husband calls “Toss Ups”. In Toss Ups, my husband simply tosses questions up. For instance, “Who was the first president of the United States of America?” or “If I had 5 apples, and I gave 3 apples to Tom , how many apples do I have now?” Now, as you can see, the questions can be very simple depending on your children’s ages. If you have a larger age span between children, you might toss up general questions to all, but throw in…. Now, this toss up is just for Adam… and then ask a question tailored for the younger child. This game was a huge hit with our children when they were ages two through five, but even now that they are 11 and 13, every now and then we hear – Hey Daddy – give us some toss ups…. Believe me, trying to come up with questions for smart middle-schoolers is tough!!

Lately, we have tailored the game of “Going on a trip” to our family. “Going on a trip” is a fun game where everyone in the car tells that they are going on a trip and bringing something along. That “something” has to begin with the first letter of the person’s name. You keep going along in that fashion until everyone guesses the first letter - first name connection. Now that our children are older, we have adapted that game to a pretty intricate game of logic…. For instance…. “I am going on a trip, and I am bringing an apple, a banana, and a cat.” The next person might then say (if they know the correct connection) “I am going on a trip, and I am bringing a mop, and napkin, and an octopus.” The play continues until everyone gets the connection. In this case, it was that all of the things that I am bringing start with consecutive letters of the alphabet. The person who begins each game selects the connection.

These activities are simple and fun. The idea is for the entire family to be involved and enjoy the thrill of guessing the answers. Each of these activities can be played with just about any age group and best of all, there is no cost involved. Any piece of information can be used in the toss ups game from social studies, science, history, math, or trivia… you name it. The idea here is to have fun with your children and make travel time a little easier.

By Teresa Mills