We decided before we hit the road that we didn’t want our kids watching screens while we were travelling.
I have fond memories of going on holiday when we were young and spending the drive playing ‘I spy with my little eye’, arguing with my big brother, or driving our parents mad with our ‘are we nearly there yet’ calls! But I can still remember the beautiful scenery rolling past the windows and enjoying singing along to the latest cassette playing along on the car stereo (the main one I remember is Hot Chocolate – am I showing my age!)
I want our kids to enjoy the journey and not just the destination – I also think it’s a great skill to learn how to be bored – and although it’s a bit harder work at times I’m glad we’ve stuck to our plans.
Our boys are still quite young – both being under 4 – but I’ve thrown in some ideas for older kids too and would love to hear some more suggestions for when they are bigger.
Reading on the Road
I remember always having a ‘holiday book’ – a new read that would be saved until the first day of our trip and all the more exciting for it. It’s a great way to spend some time on the road – sometimes I read books aloud to the boys or we just let them look through the pages themselves. As neither of the boys are reading yet this generally doesn’t amuse them for long – so this is where our next idea has been invaluable….
We stumbled across this idea by chance – we were at Eumundi Markets and we met an Aussie author Chris Collins who writes amazing childrens’ books and puts them all on CD too. I’ve been banned from bringing any more books onto the bus (apparently we’re not a mobile library!) so having a book on a CD is a great solution. You can find loads at the local library that you can put on iTunes, or you can get them online or from your local book shop. Check out Chris’ website where you can order direct too – The Funky Chicken – Chucks in Space is our favourite at the moment.
Audio books are great for kids’ literary development too – according to Reading Rockets – audio books can improve a child’s vocabulary, expose them to different genres and reading styles, provide a bonding experience for parents and kids who are listening together and then prompt discussions and conversations. Audio books also highlight humour in books, teach new vocabulary and introduce kids to books above their reading level. And you can still enjoy the views out the window at the same time! It’s also a great way to keep the driver alert and entertained too.
Our level at the moment is spotting animals or allocating points for the first person to spot certain items. We also play the car colour game – we each choose a colour and you get a point each time a car of your colour passes you. We play a version of I-Spy where instead of using letters (not at that level of learning yet) we use colours.
Bubhub has a great list of road trip game ideas including Car Bingo and Car Cricket – you can read the list here.
Research and Map Reading
This can be varied for any age of child – you can give them brochures or guide books on your next destination and ask them what they would like to see and do. Older kids can help read the map, operate the GPS or read road signs. It gets the kids involved in the trip and they’ll get an increased enthusiasm for the next stop when they get to help plan and navigate.
Drawing and Stickers
We got some really cheap car tables from a dollar shop – but I have also heard of people using baking trays as a cheap and easily replaceable version. We use them for snacks on the road and also for crafts – the boys play with stickers and drawing along the way.
Nothing like a good sing song to make the trip go faster! One of the great advantages of travelling in your own vehicle and not on public transport is that you get to sing at the top of your lungs without bothering anyone else! We play kids CDs as well as grown up ones – and sometimes have a sing without any music playing at all. That reminds me – I must have a search for that Hot Chocolate CD!
Have we forgotten anything? Let us know in the comments of your top screen free ideas for kids on the road.