Q: With school vacations and cold, wintery days upon us, we take lots of car trips. What is the most engaging way to turn a boring weekend, long car ride or snowy day into a literacy filled educational adventure?
Amanda’s answer: There are endless ways to turn any of these situations into an adventure. All it requires is some creativity and a good attitude!
I grew up playing the License Plate Game and it was winner every time. Next time a lengthy car ride is upon you, create a list of possible states you might spot on the road with your child. Then, search for fun facts for each state, such as state flowers, colors, famous landmarks, special foods or things to do there. As you spot them, read the Fun Facts to them and have them check it off the list. See how many states are marked off by the end of the car trip. By the time you are there and back, it might spark some interest in visiting one of your finds.
If your children are younger, playing a themed alphabet game is a great way to pass the time. If you are going to a family holiday party, list “party” items or phrases starting with the letter A and so on. If you are taking a trip to a museum or new state, list things you might see or do beginning with A. It is a smart way to practice the letters and sounds of the alphabet without it feeling like work!
If reading in the car is not a favorite or too difficult with motion sickness, books on tape are a perfect option. Visit your local library for copies of a book on CD that comes with the corresponding book in print. If following along is too hard, simply listen to a good new story with your children as a way to keep relaxed yet occupied in the car. Some children will take time to get used to this but it is good way to introduce literacy in the car and it catapults story time out of just a bed time routine.
If your issue is not a long car ride, but a day without plans or a snowy inside day, take advantage of this time. Cuddle up to a good book with your little ones and then watch the movie version of the story. The Polar Express is a great selection or if your children are older, Harry Potter or A Series of Unfortunate Events are perfect choices. Make it a themed movie screening by either dressing up in character or making snacks related to the movie. Watch your child get lost in the literature as it comes to life.
Creating word puzzles or riddles are other easy ways to spend the day. Teaching your child how to create a word search from scratch is time consuming but worth it. You will marvel at how quickly they catch on and before long, you will be solving homemade word searches by the dozen! Read a riddle book or look some up on line to get your child accustomed to the idea of writing his or her own. Pick an object and starting with one, create one together. After the idea is solidified, let your children try to stump you with new creations!
***If you have an educational question related to this topic or any other educational area, just ASK AMANDA! You can contact her at [email protected] or respond below in the comments section below.
Amanda Lehrman, founder of TheMommaFiles, is a trained teacher and curriculum consultant. She attended Fordham University and received an M.S.T in Elementary Education and has worked with the Accelerated Literacy Learning program as well as Teachers College Reading and Writing projects, Kaplan K-12 and Catapult Learning. Amanda currently teaches 3rd through 5th grade students in a Gifted & Talented program in Edison, NJ.
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