Summer is the time for long road trips. Who wants to fly and get there in 3 hours, when you can drive in just 23? My family of 6 used to pile in a full-sized van and drive from Houston, TX to Buffalo, NY in one shot. I should clarify by saying that my 2 parents would drive us from Houston to Buffalo. All 28 hours. No hotels. No stops longer than pee breaks and gas fill-ups. Needless to say, my sibs and I got really good at keeping ourselves occupied in the car. I'm not advocating you be quite so crazy, but should you find yourself packing the car with a rising blood pressure, here's a list of 10 things to try with your little Ones in the car to keep them happy and learning. (Some work better for older kids, some better for younger munchkins. You know your kiddos best.)
1. Take turns making up one cohesive story, alternating one sentence at a time. You start with something like, "Once there was a little boy who loved to make pancakes." Then your child has to incorporate that into the next part of the story. "He woke up on Sunday morning and found that his stove was missing." Now, it's your turn. "When he asked his mom about the stove, she mysteriously whispered, 'I saw three elves snooping around the yard last night..." And so on, and so forth. The story will go in places you never imagined!
2. Blast the radio.
3. Give her a book to read.
4. Come prepared with snacks. Lots of snacks. Let your kids describe their ultimate dream snack while they munch (e.g. a large vanilla sundae topped with cheetos and smothered in barbecue sauce)
5. Play "buzz". This is a great game to help slightly older kids learn their multiples. See our previous blog entry for details.
6. Play the State capitals game. This requires you to know your states (and their respective capital cities), or at least have a navigator with an atlas who can look this up.
7. Go through each letter of the alphabet, describing one fruit/song/artist/actor whose name begins with that particular letter.
8. Sing a song. Can't carry a tune in a bucket? Simon Cowell, your child is not. She doesn't care. Just sing. Get that imagination going by making up your own silly lyrics and tunes, or by trying to sing one song to another's tune. Make it a contest to see who can hold out laughing the longest.
9. If your child is old enough, bring along a children's dictionary. Take turns picking random page numbers and places on the page to learn new words. (For instance, "Mary, turn to page 138, and let's learn what the 7th word on the left side of the left column means). Or, turn it into a game and have your child try to find words that will stump you. 1 point to you for each word you know, 1 point to him for each word she stumps you with.
10. Keep that dictionary handy and play simple version of Balderdash. Your child picks a word and then gives you 3-4 definition. 1 definition is the correct one, and 3 are definitions of other words. You have to determine which definition truly matches the given word.
Got other suggestions for keeping your sanity in the car? Share them below!