Yes, you have a portable DVD player (your vehicle may have even come with one), and yes, your kids have a wide array of handheld video games. And yes, making use of these devices ensures a quiet and peaceful ride. It also ensures that your kids’ brains will be on autopilot and that no interaction of any depth will take place.
The alternative? Make a travel kit for your children. Put everything into a bin, plant it in the backseat (or under the seat in an airplane), and watch your kids actually use their brains, have fun, and perhaps even grow closer to their siblings as they interact together (really, it can happen!).
With books on CD, MP3, or cassettes, you get basically the same effect as a movie or a video game – kids are happy and quiet, but they are also listening to quality literature and using their imaginations. Public libraries have a wide selection, and many have ways to download MP3 audio books online without even visiting the library. You can listen as a family by using the vehicle’s audio system, or you can hook your kids up with earphones. A double jack is a handy thing to have so that two children can listen to the same story.
Arts and Crafts Materials
You can buy a travel set, but it is not all that hard to collect things from around the house. Consider including:
- Colored pencils and markers (no crayons if you are going somewhere warm!)
- Pad of drawing paper
- Stickers (get lots of colored dots for little kids)
- A portable whiteboard with markers
- Small amount of playdough in a baggie
- Wiki Stix
- Colorful pipe cleaners
- Yarn if you have a knitter, finger weaver, or braider
It seems like every board game ever made now has a travel edition, which is great, but just because it is small does not necessarily make it a good choice for the car. Watch out for small pieces that are easily lost and games that require a flat playing surface. Choose two or three favorites. We have gotten a lot of mileage from Trouble, Travel Bingo, Mad Libs, and card type trivia games. You can also play family car games.
Other Neat Stuff
- Map of where you are going so they can track the journey
- Puzzle books – sudoku, invisible pen books, word searches, etc.
- Mini Etch-a-Sketch
- Various Klutz products
- Magnet boards
- Window stickies
- Prism glasses (makes lights into rainbows, great for night travel)
- One-piece handheld puzzles, such as a Rubik’s Cube or those puzzles with loops and rings that you have to untangle in some clever way
- You could print out daily brain teasers for some challenging fun
Looking for more ideas for summer learning fun? Check out the Linky Party at Teacher Blog Addicts!
I’m sure I missed many great ideas. If you have more to add, please add a comment!