Whether you’re planning a day trip or a cross-country trip, you can make any field trip an educational field trip for the family.
This experienced teacher, frequent day trip mom and cross-country family road trip traveler has some successful tips.
1. Do some pre-planning research on destinations.
If you’re going to a specific destination check out the website. Here’s a great example. When planning our day trip to the Frontier Culture Museum another savvy Mom learned that there was a scavenger hunt print out that kept our elementary school age children looking and learning at each stop along the museum. The scavenger hunt print out added to everyone’s fun and learning and made a great keepsake for our trip scrapbook. At the very least you’ll want to have directions, hours, phone numbers and fees handy.
2. Use driving time to teach some geography basics.
Depending on your children’s age, you can cover some basic geography concepts along the way. Examples include learning state’s capitals as go through each state or learning about the compass rose. Are we traveling south, north, west or east or southwest? For very young travelers simply pointing out when you are turning right or left or stopping for green or red are great educational lessons learned during a family road trip. While many of us have a GPS system in our cars, it is both educational and fun to let kids mark and follow the path on a traditional paper map or map print out. Find worthy ideas for Repurposing Old Maps here.
3. Listen to books on tape.
Listening to books on tape or CD has been shown to improve reading skills and build vocabulary. You can find books on tape or CD at Amazon.com, local bookstores and even at your local library. Some of our favorites for young children have included the Hank the Cow Dog series and the Junie B. Jones series. For older children Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and the sequel Inkspell are winners as well as the thirteen books from Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events.
4. Create your own fun facts games.
Before traveling through a state or city spend some time on Google searching for topics like “Famous People from Virginia” or “Interesting Facts about Kansas” or “Fun Facts about Houston.” Take the print outs and quiz your family and fill them in on the facts as the miles roll by.
5. Take along some travel friendly games for the car to beat “brain drain.”
There are games for the car that challenge the brain and are entertaining too. Some of our favorites include magnetic travel bingo, Rubik’s cubes and 20Q, the hand-held electronic 20 questions game.