Turning Road Trips Into Learning Opportunities
By: Diana Chase, M.S.
With Memorial Day and the end of the school year quickly approaching, many families are actively preparing for summer road trips. With those amazing adventures often comes extended periods of time cooped up in the family vehicle. Sure, technology today makes it far easier to pass time than it was years ago, but why not also take advantage of this time to provide additional (fun!) learning opportunities for your children? (And save the excitement of new DVD’s and apps for nighttime when it’s a bit more challenging to play these games!)
3 Simple (But Fun) Interactive Learning Games To Play On The Road;
Here are three easy games to play, that require little additional space or packing supplies, and are adapted from games I have used regularly in my classroom.
- ABC Word Search – No, this is not your typical “search, find, circle with a pencil” word search. This is a real, live, searching for words activity. Starting with the letter “a,” look around for any word that starts with this letter. When someone finds the word, and reads it accurately, they get a point (or not, totally up to you!) Then everyone moves on to the next letter, “b.” Play continues until you find words that begin with each letter all the way through the alphabet…in sequential order, of course! Set a timer and see you how many times you can complete the alphabet before the time is up. Or, play throughout your trip and see how many times you can get through the alphabet before you reach your destination. You can even add challenges and earn “bonuses” for words over a certain number of letters, or for finding two words with same letter on the same sign. Add different challenges to keep it interesting and/or for differentiating the game for children of different ages.
- Traveling Tally Marks – Pick a few objects (ex. white vans, 18-wheelers, cars with bumper stickers, cars with 5 people in them, out of state bumper stickers etc.) and record tally marks of how many times you see the objects. You can either have everyone playing the game keep track of their own tally marks and then compare results at the end, or, one person keeps track of the objects everyone sees. Set a timer and see how many you find in a certain time frame or play until your next rest stop. Then, have your child count the tally’s and ask them different mental math questions about the information. (ex. which object did we see the most of, round each number to the nearest ten, how many ____ and ___ did we see?, How many more ____ would we need to see to get to 50, what is the average number of objects we saw, etc.) Again, questions can be tailored to children of different ages.
- Kinesthetic Spelling –Simply give your child a spelling word (orally), and have them spell it on another child’s hand or leg, or yours, using their finger tip. (In the classroom, we did this activity on each others back, but if that can’t be done safely the above options work just as well.) You can also have your child spell a “mystery word” on someone else and that person can guess the word that was spelled. You can use sight words they learned this year, vocabulary words from content areas, or even pick a category (ex. words that have to do with the beach, fruits and vegetables, or things you need for a road trip) and see how many words you can spell/guess correctly in a row!
These cheap, fun and easy games, that require few (if any) materials, will hopefully make your travel time fly by and will not only keep students learning, but perhaps also decrease the “are we there yet” questions! Also, continuing these types of activities throughout the summer break can help stop information regression (for certain children) much like you’d find in an ESY program.
Here’s to an amazing summer!
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This entry was posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2016 at and is filed under Summer Learning and tagged as Diana Chase, Summer Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.