How Do We Survive Travel Days AND Homeschool?
What do homeschooling families do for homeschool during travel? If you’re a family living in an RV, road trips may not be a once-in-a-while thing – they might be weekly, monthly or otherwise very frequently! Even when stationary, as unschoolers we don’t necessarily follow a strict curriculum, but we don’t want our road trip time to be lost time either.
Travel, especially family travel, isn’t all kicking back by the pool and sipping margaritas – a lot of it involves time and tasks during which you can’t be directing activities, or reviewing journals, teaching algebraic concepts or discussing the whys and hows of the universe (although with older kids on longer trips, a good, deep philosophical discussion is a really terrific way to pass the time!).
Time that we spend together during travel is always enhanced by animated conversations, jokes, singing songs and sometimes reminiscing, but sometimes we need to pull out some tricks to survive a long road trip with kids. Maybe reading aloud or silently in the car isn’t so good for sea-sick tummies, and you need something more engaging to maintain everyone’s sanity. Whether you’re in a motorhome, truck or car, these ideas for keeping the kids entertained while still learning are some of our best strategies for road trip survival.
Create Your Own Adventure Books
Talk about never-ending adventure! Create your own adventure books are full of ways for you and your kids to explore various outcomes and variations of soon-to-be favorite stories. It’s also interesting as a parent to watch which options your kids choose (do they always pick the “safe” option? always the risk-taker?) and to help them to expand their horizons in new ways in a perfectly safe literary environment. Read them time and again, choosing different options and endings along the way to see what happens. We owned a series of these in the Dragonology genre and read them over and over again. We lost them a while back, but they were on one of the kids’ birthday list again just this year.
Mad Libs were a serious part of our early grammar curriculum – really! The game itself was created by Roger Price and Leonard Stern back in the 1950s and has been entertaining families ever since – it’s fun and engaging and can be played with kids from very young ages all the way up to teens. Mad Lib Junior is designed for kids from ages 5-8 and provides lists of adjectives, nouns and verbs to select from while creating your story while traditional mad libs challenges the participants to know the parts of grammar in order to come up with the necessary piece of the puzzle. Bonus – our kids pull the completed Mad Libs from years ago out and read through them for hours of giggles at their younger selves.
Coloring Books and Activity Books
Coloring and activity books laced with information and pictures relevant to your travels and your road trip are a fun way to not only keep the learning going, but to have a fun record of your road trip. It’s not hard these days to find a plethora of themed coloring books – states, capitals, presidents are just some of the basics in the history and geography arena.
You can also find coloring books that are designed simply to help you relax, ones with unicorns with lessons about manners (for older kids!) and ones with early learning activities like connecting the dots and coloring in letter and number shapes. The beauty of coloring books is that they’re not very expensive and you can find them everywhere from grocery stores to airport book stores.
Books on CD have been a favorite of our kids for as long as I can remember. Our daughter had a “boom box” (remember those?!) before we finally bought her her own MP3 player when she was eight so that she could listen to her stories at night while falling asleep. We try to select stories for the road that we haven’t heard before, or even non-fiction books that are about subjects we are all passionate about and we’ve found repeatedly that an amazing quiet will settle over the car once the storyteller begins weaving his or her tale. Your mind will thank you for the peace you will get from not having to answer a thousand times, “Are we there yet?” We’ve even sat in the car at the end of a road trip to hear the end of the chapter! Seriously good, educational time-suck.
Twenty Questions and / or What Am I?
Games which challenge the mind are some of our favorites for travel for a number of reasons, not the least of which is FREE, but also because we sometimes forget to bring along our other ideas for traveling with kids, but you know…sometimes you run into traffic and suddenly a twenty-minute trip to the store turns into a four hour nightmare trapped inside a small metal box. Twenty questions is the classic game whereby one person thinks of a thing (animal, vegetable or mineral) and the rest of the group try to guess the item through no more than 20 questions. The game, “What Am I?” is more like a riddle – we played this simplified version of 20 questions when ours were much younger. You can provide as many or as few (simple or challenging) clues to the group who then, through a series of eliminating questions, try to guess what you are. Fun and free! Plus, it can keep you mentally alert while not being a distraction while driving.
So, those are the top five educational activities we use during actual road trip time – usually for us, that’s two kids strapped in and two parents – at least one driving a 42′ motorhome, but you might be all in tucked into a train, on a plane or sailing away on a sailboat. Or you might be stuck in a terminal or station, waiting with little material and no patience. What do you find helps to keep your kiddos learning while traveling? Any other homeschool families who educate while on the road? We’d love to hear your favorite tools!
For when you really need to put on the headphones and sip vodka out of your travel mug (only if you’re the designated RIDER), here’s a coloring book just for you. Enjoy!