To keep my other post from getting too long, I thought I'd devote a post to all the wonderful resource ideas that I came across. (I have way too much fun doing this...) As I had mentioned, to keep my kids from just staring at a video screen the whole trip, we try to engage with our kids throughout the trip. (Remember, we are parents, not just babysitters!) By doing this, we work at making the journey as enjoyable for all of us as possible.
The beginning of the trip is usually the easiest, kind of like any other ordinary trip, so we just turn on some music and see how long that lasts. When that starts getting a little old, and they realize that this trip is going to be a little longer than usual, that's when I pull out my bag of tricks.
We usually rotate through the following several times, depending on the length of our trip. I've included things that we have done, but feel free to add your own ideas. I also linked you up to sites that may give you additional ideas to choose from. An idea is taking some of these ideas and doling them out at specific times or points along the way. Your kids can visually track their progress on a chart (so you don't have to answer "Are we there yet?" through your whole trip!) or if you want to get really fancy, you can make one out of a shoe bag!
Snacks or meals: Unless your kids tend to get carsick, we have found eating to be a great way to "eat up" (I know, cheesy) some time. Eat small snacks instead of big meals and you can include this option as one of your rotations more often. If you eat in the car, try using divided baskets to contain their meals. Genius!
Travel Games and Activities: Try these ideas...
- Print out a map of where you are going. See if your kids can track along. This may help them determine the answer to their question, "Are we there yet?"
- Print out a US map and have them color in out-of-state license plates they see. If you really want to make it educational, check out a kids' book on the states and read facts from them as you go along!
- Play travel bingo!
- Free-puzzles.net has lots of printable puzzles. Print up a bunch and give rewards for finished pages!
- Hunt for letters or numbers on billboards, road signs, trucks, in alphabetical order. My 11-year-old still likes to do this!
- Here's a math game: add the numbers on a license plate together. For example, if a license plate is 4HWT395, add 4+3+9+5. If they total over 21, you get a point. The first one to reach 10 is the winner!
- For storage of supplies, check out these ideas:
- Using a remote control caddy from Ikea (or something similar) to hold supplies within easy reaching distance of little hands. If you want more pockets, consider a shoe holder attached to the seat in front.
- Use a lunchbox
- If you are so inclined (which I am not, though it looks cute!), you can make a travel pillow case/bag. Just throwing it out there for those of you who are!
- Mom's Minivan has more ideas here!
Audio books or stories: Travel time can also be a great time to travel into a new world. Listening to stories can help engage your child's mind in a positive direction. It's an especially good option for kids who get carsick easily. And lastly, listening together allows us to discuss books and enjoy conversation together.
- My Audio School is a site created by a homeschooling mom whose child had trouble reading. By listening to audio books, he was able to learn in his preferred learning modality. Whether you homeschool or not, this is a great resource and is beautifully done. If you're going to any historical sites, see if you can find stories that will correspond to your destination!
- Justin Taylor gives a great overview of all the Focus on the Family audio theater collections. Our favorite is the Narnia series. These are geared for kids grade school and up, with some for teens and adults too!
- Redeemed Reader has 10 vacation audiobook suggestions for the whole family, along with a few other titles.
Video games or DVDs (including the iPad): I try to limit this to less than half of our trip. I can't imagine it being good for the kids' eyes to be staring at a screen for hours on end.
Outdoor activities: bubbles, relay races to stretch the legs, a scavenger hunt or even a picnic lunch can help give the kids something to look forward to and break up the drive.
What do you do to make the most of your travel time?
I'd love to hear your ideas!