As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we live in the middle of nowhere, but within an hour and a half of everything. Thus, every trip to the zoo, aquarium or museum starts with a healthy dose of “car time.” Though we have a DVD player in the car, I try to reserve it for long road tips of three hours or more. I prefer the kids look at their surroundings and engage with what they see.
We’ve become experts at “I Spy,” which we even play on short trips to school. Here’s how you play: One player picks an object outside the car and says “I spy something…” and fills in the color of the object they’ve selected. For example, “I spy something red,” a player might say. Then everyone guesses until they guess the correct answer: a fire truck, for example. A fun variant includes using shapes instead of colors. For example, a player might say, “I spy something rectangular.” Everyone guesses until they guess the one-way sign, which was the right answer.
Grandmommy, a frequent visitor, taught us the “Alphabet Game.” Starting with the letter A, players have to find each letter of the alphabet, in order, on signs, license plates etc. outside the car. The first player to get all the way to Z wins. This game is perfect for reinforcing letter recognition for preschoolers, though they will likely need some help at first.
The “License Plate Game” is another classic that works well for long trips on the interstate. Players have to find a license plate with the name of each state. The first player to spot all 50 (or the continental 48) wins. You can also have the whole car work together as a team. You need to create list of the states for players to check off. I found a downloadable sheet on Mom’s Minivan…….here.
Finally, growing up I always enjoyed following our route on the AAA Triptik during our many cross country trips. The Triptik was a booklet of maps showing the route. I always wanted to be the designated Triptik holder; I felt great satisfaction each time I could turn the page, knowing we were making good progress. You can now create and print out your own Triptik online by clicking……here. Assemble your Triptik, staple it, and hand it to your elementary schooler. It might be a solution to the “Are we there yet?” problem. If you don’t have a Triptik, you could also highlight your route on a map. Show your children how to look for towns and other landmarks to mark your progress.
Happy traveling this holiday season.