These days, homeschooling has become a means to keep children safe and healthy. With the pandemic increasingly affecting kids, keeping them safe and educated at home is more important than ever. However, what about when it’s time to take a break?
The emphasis on safe traveling is everywhere. Road trips have thus become a vital way to get away with our families. And, as homeschooling families, we can enjoy the flexibility to get away at our convenience, even as we surround our children with engaging education.
If you’re planning your next road trip before the end of the year, here are 3 educational and entertaining road trip activities for kids!
Audiobooks or Reading Aloud
Reading isn’t just an essential skill; it leads to creativity and communication. Still, when you’re on a road trip, you might be hesitant to stick a book in your child’s hands. It is vacation, after all.
Instead, try audiobooks! You can play one throughout the entire vehicle for everyone to listen to, or each child can enjoy their own book with headphones. Audiobooks have been shown to engage children of all ages regardless of their reading level. And, by hearing different voices, the stories are more engaging and impactful.
Depending on the length of the trip, prepare a list of fun and educational stories for your children. Some great examples are:
- The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. This is an exciting tale for kids aged 9 or older that’s full of excitement, brilliant lands, and travel.
- The Gruffalo. Perfect for younger readers up to 7, kids will enjoy the variety of exciting voices.
- Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows. This whimsically titled story focuses on science and the natural world through the STEAM educational method, combining fantasy with education.
For added educational benefit, have your children write down words they don’t understand while they listen. A word journal can help children build their vocabulary. And, it will help you and your children engage closer with the stories you’ve heard.
Audiobooks can be great for keeping your kids attention. However, anyone traveling with kids will already know: they’ll need to stop for breaks—a lot.
Worry not, though, you can take these opportunities to keep your kids thinking and learning. Before you leave, create a blank travel map for your kids to fill out. Every time you stop, help your kids update your travel map. Study the local area and include natural features, such as farms, forests, and even mountains. Then, engage them with interesting facts about the local areas.
You can go one step farther by preplanning lesson plans for each stop. Some ideas might include:
- Road-related printables: Great for younger children. They can learn letters, numbers, and colors through road-related coloring and matching games. There are a variety of free, printable road trip activities online.
- Nature studies: Make lists of trees, animals, and other features that your kids will see on the trip. Or, have them write a short story or poem using the natural items they see around them.
- History at pit stops: Anytime you stop for a break, teach your kids some of the histories of the local area. Was it a Civil War battlefield? Perhaps your route brings you close to the Lewis and Clark Trail?
Keep breaks fun and interesting in the spirit of vacation. And be sure to explain to your kids how “fieldwork” can be both educational and exciting.
Roadtrip Travel Journals
Of course, a road trip is a vacation. So, not every moment has to be planned out, and nor should the entire trip focus on education. However, there is one great method to sneak in some passive education, and entertain your kids at the same time.
Travel journals! A self-led journal allows your kids to document what is important to them on the trip. Also, these journals can take almost any form. Enterprising parents can create journals from scratch to include specific sections, such as:
- Drawing and writing prompts
- Painting pages (be sure to bring washable paints!)
- Poem and haiku pages
- Free-form ideas and notes
- Geography and favorite sites
If you make your own journals, focus on the fun. Try to keep the hard edge of education out of these. Instead, focus on how each journal is specific to each child, or note the fun content within. These journals should be akin to scavenger hunts, not lessons!
As well, journaling is an excellent way to keep your children calm. It keeps their mind off of missing home and on the journey around them. Journaling can help your kids reduce anxiety, and help them express themselves while honing communication skills.
For an added benefit, have your children report their journals after the trip is done. You can structure this as a lesson. Have your students detail the trip, their favorite or important parts, and what they learned. Be sure they note everything they didn’t understand, from strange words to new plants.
Or, you can simply review the journals with your children as a family. Learn what they picked up from the trip. You can even use these to note their interests in order to help boost future lesson plans!
With the ongoing pandemic, parent-teachers need to keep up on safety and distancing. That doesn’t have to mean staying cooped up year-round, though. Taking a road trip can bring along the lessons of the classroom, while creating a fun environment.
Road trips are a great experience that combine fun, learning, and family time! Use audiobooks to keep kids engaged in reading. Take advantage of potty breaks to fit in education across all subjects. Finally, don’t forget the travel journals! Once you’re back home, always talk with your children about their trip. What did they learn, and what got them excited as they traveled?
Guest post by Laci LeBlanc
Laci LeBlanc specializes in creating custom content for digital publishers and audiences whose interests intersect with the clients she serves.