As the 4th of July draws closer more and more families are piling into their cars for their summer road trips. While many view the long drives as tedious with younger children, I believe they are an excellent opportunity to work on building language skills. How often in our busy lives are we in such small quarters without (or at least many without) electronics and internet? Keep reading below to see some ideas for encouraging and building on language during your family road trip!
Make up a story as a family. Take turns with each family member adding one sentence to the story. This can be as complex or simple as you decide. For older children encourage creativity and using more descriptive language. For younger children, focus on making simple sentences while maintaining the topic. Of course, the sillier the story the more entertaining it will be!
Play letter games like we’re going on a picnic and I’m bringing…. Again have the whole family get involved. With each turn the next person adds a word with the next letter of what they will bring. This helps with early literacy skills and vocabulary. To increase the difficulty, have each member recite all items previously mentioned to work on memory skills.
Play I spy! This game is always a great go to game for working on language skills. You can focus simply on building vocabulary by defining/describing the item you spy for your child to guess. “I spy something flying.” For older children make it more difficult by working on attributes/descriptive words “I spy something red.” “I spy something wet.” Or you can focus on literacy skills by playing I spy with letters. “I spy something that starts with the letter B.” “I spy something that rhymes with the word me.”
Talk about your surroundings. Use this time to educate your child on the areas you drive through. Encourage questions about the areas. Stop and learn more if the opportunity arises.
Plan what you will do when you arrive at your destination. Children love to be involved tell them about what possible activities you can do or local attractions. For older children have them write out a trip bucket list!
For older children let them be your copilot! I know most people, including myself, use an electronic GPS to help us find where we are going, but letting your child direct you is fun and builds so many important skills. Simply having your child be your copilot not only makes your child an active and important member of the family but it also works on understanding and using spatial concepts, formulating directions, reading, problem solving and pragmatic language!
Play travel board games. Games that work on language and are easy to take for drives include but aren’t limited to:
Battleship-great for problem solving, turn taking, formulating questions and understanding concepts.
Guess who-works on sentence formulation, asking and answering questions, describing words, pronouns.
Hangman-this is a great game for decoding and encoding words.
Boggle-also a good for practicing spelling, sound/symbol correspondence, problem solving.
Lotto/Zingo/Bingo-this simple game is always good for building vocabulary, the concepts of same difference and turn taking.
Read! This one goes without saying reading is always a great activity for children. Use this time to work on their summer reading.
There are so many ways we can encourage language and build on our children’s skills during a road trip. These are just a few ideas. Remember learning can be fun! Try to think outside the box and both you and your child will enjoy the ride!