When you think about childhood road trips, they probably make you a little nostalgic. The same rest-stops, roadside cafes, and music somehow never got old—or at least not in your memory. For many families, travel games are a big part of the experience too, both in the car and in the air. And they do more than just pass time and keep children distracted—they can help kids learn. To make the most of your time traveling, and to beat the summer slide, pack this list of games in your road trip kit:
1. A Trip to Remember
If your children like to memorize and recite, memorization games are a fun way to expand their knowledge. They can learn fun facts about your destination or about key spots along your route and talk about each of them as you get nearby.
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You might also elect to memorize something more national, such as the U.S. presidents. Your children will probably be asked to recite these at some point in the future, so this can give them an early start. There are several versions online, like this one:
2. Stick with a Classic
This game is a classic for a reason. If you're going on a road trip, make a list or print out a map of the United States and mark off the plates you see. This can help children remember the names of states as well as their locations.
If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can come prepared with a list of facts about each state that you can share with your family. And, if you're looking to up the stakes, make it a license plate bingo, awarding a prize to the person who gets all of the states, all of the states beginning with a certain letter, or five states in a row, etc. Or take the easy route (pun intended) and download a Roadtrip Bingo app.
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3. Makin' It Real
A great way to make travel educational for kids is to provide them with actual money to budget throughout the trip. Give them a set amount and let them spend it as they choose. It will help teach young travelers the value of money, forms of money, and some very necessary counting skills they'll use for years to come. Allowing them to make their own financial choices will help develop their independence as they head back to school.
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4. Scavenger Hunt 2.0
Whether you're in a car, a train, or an airplane, a scavenger hunt can be fun for the whole family. Instead of simply asking your children to find obvious items, compose a list of clues that require them to work through the problems to figure out the next steps. Then, they'll need to use their critical thinking skills to find the items and mark them off their list. If you can coordinate your scavenger hunts with landmarks you're planning to visit along the way, kids can run around checking off their lists while burning off energy that's been bottled up in your tight travel space. An added bonus!
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Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.