Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Promoting Literacy while Traveling

Traveling gives us lots of ways 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 you set out, spend time researching your destination. If you are driving, research the places along the way too. 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.
Monday’s book 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: do online research to find interesting places to stop for breaks (historic sites, museums, charming towns) and also places for picnics (state parks, lakes, waterfalls).
  • Museums
    • Many 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.
    • 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.
  • Zoos
    • Check the website for when special shows and feeding times are scheduled.
    • See animals of particular interest? Research them before you go.
  • Visiting a big city? Make transportation decisions before you arrive as to how you’ll get from place to place. Cost, convenience and fatigue all need to be considered.
  • See if an audio tour is available.
  • 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...
  • Maps
  • 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 and crossword puzzles to do in the car or on the plane, using words from your trip and destination.’s Puzzlemaker  makes this simple and fast.
  • An inexpensive metal cookie sheet makes a terrific 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.
  • 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 we’ll be on the road.

  • 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 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.
  • Allow your kids 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?
    • Swap roles.
    • This wouldn’t work for every family and/or trip, but definitely an idea to consider.
  • This website Hazel Mail will convert your vacation photo into a postcard and send it anywhere in the world.

Please visit these websites for more traveling ideas. They offer a wealth of information.

I bet you have lots of your own traveling tips. Please add one to the Comments Box!

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