If you’re kids are like mine the last thing they want to hear is the words “educational” or “learning” when we’re going on a day trip or vacation. So it’s up to mom and dad to keep their minds going. It does have to be boring. We love making up games on the way. The added bonus, it’s keeps the kids engaged and you hear less of “I’m bored” and “are we there yet?”.
For the little ones:
1. We like to play the color game. Especially with my 4 yr old son. Since he does well with recognizing colors, this is a fun game for him. You can do this a few different ways.
–Playing an I Spy type of game. Ask your child “I see something red, do you see something red?” They might say “that sign” or “that light” or “on that McDonald’s”
–Color search – You can say “find something blue” they might see a blue car, a blue sign, water, etc. Once everyone in the car found the current color, you can move onto another one. Let each person take a turn suggesting a color. Just a suggestion to stick with colors you might easily find to avoid frustration. Saying “find lime green” might be a lot harder than just finding “green”
2. Letter recognition. The alphabet game. My kids love this one. We make it through the alphabet and they want to start all over again. Start with the letter “A” and everyone in the car has to find the letter “A”. We set rules that you can’t use the same word in a sign. If it take more than 10 or 15 min you move onto the next letter to keep them engaged and cut down on frustration. Little ones might say “there’s an A in that sign” Where readers can say “there’s an “O” in Johnstown”
3. Number recognition — Works the same way as the alphabet game but with numbers. Best to stick with 1 through 10. You could use commonly found numbers on the road like 25, 35, 55, 65 (in speed limit signs) or you can try to beat each other with who can find the biggest number along the way. 65 or 75 might seem big at first with speed limits but maybe you run across a mega millions sign with 40 million on it or one of those billboards that say things like “we’ve helped over 10,000 people” etc.
For the Older ones:
Honestly my boys love the alphabet game I mentioned above but to give a little more challenge.
1. Observation skills — Ask them things like “We just passed a sign for Baltimore, how many miles did it say until we reach Baltimore?” or “We just passed an airport, did you see what the name of the airport was?” Whoever gets it right can ask the next question.
2. Plan ahead and you can have a really educational ride. Plan your route and take note of some of the towns and areas you’ll be driving through. You could type up a little quiz along the way. With questions like “What is the first town we drive through once we hit the Maryland border?” or “We’ll be driving past the state capital of Pennsylvania, what is the state capital?” or “What fruit is Georgia known for?” You can give them hints like “I think #7 on the list will be coming up soon”
3. License plate game – If your traveling state to state, there’s a good chance you’ll see license plates from a number of different states. You can have the kids write down the states they see or you can make a check off list ahead of time. As they find them you can add to it by quizzing them about the state capital, what the state is known for, or whatever might be relevant to the state.
4. If your kids have smartphones or tablets and are glued to them constantly you can quiz them on areas of your destination. Ask them “Name a museum in Philadelphia” They can use their smartphones or tablets to look them up. You can ask them harder things since they’ll have access to answers by searching. “What year was the state of Kentucky established?” “What is the name of the college in Columbia, SC?” etc.
I’d love to hear what fun and educational games you’ve come up with!