No matter how your family approaches education school might start to feel pretty blah by November. Why not spice things up by taking learning on the road? Not only will your family get some much-needed vacay and togetherness, but you’ll also be able to inject some excitement into typically (let’s admit it) humdrum schoolwork. Remind the kids that learning is so much more than dry lectures and textbooks. Making your family road trip into an education filled expedition isn’t as hard as you might think either. These simple and few additions to your luggage are all you’ll need. That—and an adventurous spirit!
Included also are the specific areas of study or practice that each item can be used to accommodate. Use this guide to help decide which areas you’d like to focus on for your family’s particular interests and needs. The most beneficial thing you can do to create a truly educational environment on your trip is to stimulate learning conversations. Making a campfire? Talk about the mechanics of fire. Going to try kayaking? Discuss buoyancy with your kids. There will be plentiful opportunities to invite them to learn something new and interesting while on a family road trip.
- Natural history
- Wildlife habitats
- Weather and climate
Regardless of where your family road trip begins, there will, without a doubt, be at least some nature there. Bring along a nature guide, one that is specifically about the areas you’ll be traversing, and dig into the unique animal and plant life that can be found there. If you don’t mind a little pre-planning before you depart, use the nature guide to create a special bingo game. Each square should picture an animal or plant species you’re likely to come across on the family road trip. You could also stick the guide into your backpack before a hike and read your kids some new information at each water break.
Basic Art Supplies
- Nature Study
Don’t worry. No messy modeling clay or giant easel required. Just a few simple tools such as a small drawing pad or blank journal, some colored pencils, and maybe a travel watercolor palette should serve your needs perfectly. There are many ways the kids can use these to deepen their understanding of all they are learning. One fun activity is to have them keep a journal of what they do on the family road trip, including all of the where, “when”, and “whats.” For those who are younger or not yet confident writers, encourage them to do more illustration than writing. This is a great way to practice concepts such as timelines and storytelling.
Additionally, this portable art studio can also be used to capture the simple beauty of the great outdoors. Since drawing or painting natural scenes as you view them is so satisfying perhaps you will want to bring enough supplies for the adults to get in on the action too. Not only will this force your family to “slow down” and take in the beauty that surrounds them, but also helps to build key art skills. Maybe you’ll even get everyone to forgive each other for what was said in that fight over a tablet. Everyone will come away from the experience with a deeper appreciation of their subject and a lovely memory.
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Inspirational Read Alouds And Audiobooks
- Language Arts
We have heard it said by just about every teacher and pediatrician, that little kids benefit hugely from being read to. Research shows that it’s amazing for the minds of older students too. Not only does it improve reading and listening skills, but overall academic performance in general as well. Plus, it’s fun! Audiobooks offer almost all the same benefits with a lot less effort. There are, of course, many choices when it comes to which book you’ll bring along, but a few popular choices are The Wind in the Willows, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia. An episodic tale like one of these will help put everyone on the family road trip in the mood for adventure!
READ MORE: 10 Tips For A Toddler Friendly Road Trip
Simple Science Supplies
- Hands-On Science
With a few carefully chosen supplies, the world becomes your science lab. Having some specific tools on your family road trip for hands-on, experiential science projects should spark lots of interest! One of our favorites is the super-simple-to-make underwater viewer. Take a large plastic cup with the bottom cut off and rubber band a piece of plastic wrap to the bottom so that it’s watertight. Then submerge the plastic wrapped end of the cup into any given calm body of water to get a better look at crayfish, tadpoles, and crabs!
Other things that may come in handy are magnifying glasses, binoculars, and Ziplocks for sample collection. Once your kiddos have seen some cool new things, have them use the drawing pads to record their findings.
Solve the pesky “are we there yet?!” issue by giving each child their own map or atlas to use along the journey. There are so many skills to be practiced with these. Start them off with an introduction to how maps operate—the map key and general layout. See if they can figure out where your family road trip has taken them to at any given time (road signs will help!). Topographical maps with elevation figures are great to have on hand as well. “Did you know we are 3,453 miles above sea level?!” There are a wealth of conversation starters to be had when utilizing these.
Something else fun to discuss is the unique challenges the first explorers to an area may have had. If you think your child would enjoy this topic be sure to include a book on the area’s local history in your pre-trip library raid.
Ready to enter this exciting world of road schooling? Some families love the great outdoors enough to travel and learn like this year-round. Others are perfectly happy to spend a few long weekends a year on the road. Whether your family road trip lasts 2 or 200 days hopefully you’ll use some of these supplies and methods to keep everyone learning along the way.
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