Promoting Literacy while Traveling
Traveling gives us lots of opportunities to promote literacy in easy and painless ways. Here are a bunch of ideas that I’ve learned from experience and through my research.
BEFORE THE TRIP
Before you set out, spend some time researching your destination. Plus, if you are driving, research the places along the way. Involve your kids in this, and let them take as much responsibility as they can. The more they invest their time and effort, the better. They may find some oddball attractions that end up being highlights of the trip.
This Monday’s post has books to check out, plus the internet has endless possibilities. If you are a member of AAA, be sure to give their resources a look.
Road trip: online research to find interesting places to stop for breaks (historic sites, museums, charming towns) and also beautiful places for picnics (state parks, lakes, waterfalls).
Many museums have web pages with information about exhibits and special shows. Which exhibits interests your family the most? Giving your kids a say in what they see and the order in which you see them can help keep the visit kid-friendly.
An Association of Children’s Museums membership gives free access to over 150 children’s museums in the US.
Consider making the gift store your first stop. Purchase several postcards of the important works on display (or download images off the museum’s web site before you go). Make a game/contest of finding the pieces of art as you tour.
Check the zoo website before you go. You can see when special shows and feeding times are scheduled and downloading a zoo map can help you plan your trip. You may be able to save money and time by buying your tickets ahead of time. See animals of particular interest? Research them a little before you go.
Visiting a big city? City websites can tell you if there are any festivals and other special events happening during your visit. See if an audio tour is available. Plus, it’s a good idea to make transportation decisions before you arrive—you will be able to get from place to place with less stress.
Cost, convenience and fatigue all need to be considered. Plan a balance of activities to meet individual interests, movement needs, down time and food interests.
Here is part of a nearly limitless list of things to take along for car, train and airplane trips.
- Pipe cleaners in assorted colors from any craft store. making necklaces, swords, bracelets, towers…
- Audio books
- Supplies that encourage your kids to burn off some of their excess energy at highway stops: a few jump ropes, bucket stilts, a couple of inflatable beach balls, and sidewalk chalk (for playing hopscotch and four-square).
- Customized word search puzzles to do in the car or on the plane, using words about your trip and destination. Discovery School’s Puzzlemaker makes this simple and fast.
- An inexpensive metal cookie sheet makes a great lap table for a child during car trips. It’s a food tray, a writing desk, a clipboard with the addition of a clip-style fridge magnet, and an instant play table for all sorts of magnetic toys. Slipping a pillow underneath makes it even better.
- Pack a guide book with the flora and fauna, interesting landmarks, notable sights, native foods, transit systems…
- Playing cards, card games and board games
- Create a family trivia game. Click here for directions.
- “Are we there yet?” Hand the asker a map and ask him to figure out how much longer you’ll be on the road.
THINGS TO DO
- US car trip? Collect a jar full of quarters with US states on the back. During the journey, when someone spots a state’s license plate, that person collects the state’s quarter.
- Take pictures of stops you make along the way. The pictures will make great individual and/or family scrapbooks.
- Take along foreign language practice tapes or CDs, and make a contest out of remembering words for things seen on the road (tree, car, etc.).
- Make up your own road scavenger hunt game
- Give your kids some options that you are comfortable with. For example, “Do you guys want to go to the park today or would you rather go swimming at the pool?”
- Create a job for the day:
Navigator: The navigator is responsible for making sure you get to your destination. He gets a road map, a pen, and printed directions from an online mapping web site.
Banker: The banker is responsible for keeping track of the money. She is given a realistic budget and a list of the required expenses (gas, food, hotel room…). She also gets a notepad, a pen, and some cash. When you stop for gas, she pays and gives the family an update on how much you have left. When you stop for a meal, she looks at the menu and decides if you can afford to eat there.
Car Maintenance: This person is responsible for keeping the car in reasonable order. Maybe has the power to levy fines?
On the return trip, swap roles.
For more ideas, visit these websites. They offer a wealth of information.
Here’s a book that’s worth checking out:
I bet you have lots of traveling tips. Please add one to the Comments Box!