What Homeschoolers Do on Car Trips

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As promised, here are suggestions for how to capitalize on car time during family vacations—or even when running around town

Audio Books: We love to listen to books that are downloaded or on CD in the car. The best candidates are those read with appropriate accents. We love Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner read in the droll British accent. The Chronicles of Narnia and Swiss Family Robinson are also treats for the ears. We have rented books on CD from Cracker Barrel. But we have also purchased many favorites to be enjoyed for the first time on a road trip and later to be listened to over and over at home.

Travel Games: Any time you find yourself in the car for any amount of time, play one of these common travel games.

The ABC Game - Look for alphabet letters from to z. This can be played cooperatively, with everyone looking for the next letter together. Or it can be played competitively with the first person to get to z winning the game.

Packing a Suitcase to Take a Trip to Grandma’s - “I was packing a suitcase to take a trip to Grandma’s and on my trip I took…an alarm clock.” “I was packing a suitcase to take a trip to Grandma’s and on my trip I took…an alarm clock and a ball.” “I was packing a suitcase to take a trip to Grandma’s and on my trip I took…an alarm clock and a ball and a compass.” The list continues on until you reach z or until you can’t remember your list anymore. As in the above game, you can take turns or work together.

Or change the scenario to “I was going to the zoo and at the zoo I saw…” or “I was going on a rocket ship and on the rocket ship I took…” Use anything that will interest your child.

How Many States? - Look at the license plates of the passing cars. Make a list of the states represented. Work together or let the person who spots the state first get one point and see who finds the most. (This game is more fun in the Northeast where there are a lot of little states in a small area!)

Travel Bags: When we travel, I prepare a special travel bag for each child. Sometimes I give them the whole bag at once to enjoy. More often I bring out special treats for each new leg of the journey. I have used inexpensive canvas bags, grocery bags, and more recently large gift bags from the dollar store.

I purchase most of the treats at a dollar store as well: stickers and paper, small colored pencils (no crayons—they melt in hot cars), markers for those old enough to use them appropriately, coloring and maze books. One of my best dollar store purchases was a joke book. The children still keep this in the van to use on trips around town. Dollar stores often carry magnetic travel games. Don’t forget to include little snacks!

As a result, my children love to travel!

Most of these suggestions work just as well for errand day as they do for long trips.

One of my favorite literature suggestions having to do with family travel is The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, a good read if you are traveling or if hosting family visitors.

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