When I took road trips with my girls, I loathed hearing this! As they got older, Game Boys and portable DVD players started to become available, but they didn’t have the technology we have today! However, some children aren’t able to focus on a screen because they get motion sickness or…imagine this…bored!
Recently I took a BIG Jeep Journey with Mr. Weber and we traveled more than 2600 miles. That is over 40 hours in the car! I did most of the driving, so I had to keep alert and mentally stimulated. Even when Mr. Weber took turns, I couldn’t enjoy my devices because I would get nauseous. SO other than music and audiobooks (and some conversation), I was left to stimulate my mind with some creative road trip activities. I share these because I know gifted learners have minds that seem to never stop!
So have fun getting your children stretching their thinking with…
- Billboard “PIE”: We learn about author’s purpose (persuade, inform, entertain) and in class we examined cereal boxes to discuss how the box designs do all 3. As you spot billboards, talk about how they try to persuade visually, inform onlookers, and even entertain with creative slogans, bright colors, or catchy phrases!
- Numbers on road signs: Your mathematicians will love examining numbers! While exits and mile markers are a plenty, perhaps focus on routes or “miles to” signs. Talk about the properties of the numbers such as even/odd, factors or multiples, prime/composite, etc. Or collect 25 numbers randomly and sort by various properties. Number game possibilities abound!
- License plate discoveries: Looking for plates from different states can be interesting and some people play games to see how many different states they can find. When we were in Florida, I marveled at the number of different types of plates that were just FL alone! Another think my wandering mind does is use the letters off of a plate to create words or phrases…make it a contest to see who can come up with something first. For example, my Jeep has “EVV” so I could say “Every Veteran is Valued”.
- Interesting “town” or “water” names: I wished I could have written down some of the interesting names we passed because I was curious about the origins of the names. We drove over Lake Pontchartrain, which I later learned was the longest bridge in the world! (And I see why now!)
- Other oddities: “Stennis space buffer zone”; when we drove by NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, I was boggled by the “buffer zone”. I wondered why a “buffer zone” was needed: The 125,000-acre acoustical Buffer Zone surrounding Stennis was established by NASA in the 1960s to enable testing of large engines and stages of the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo Program. The Buffer Zone remains critical to the current and future missions of NASA and the resident agencies at Stennis Space Center, and is considered a national asset.
- Differences between states: if you are traveling across states, pay attention to the local landscapes (ever notice how power poles vary?) When driving on I-59 north through Mississippi, I was amazed at how little room drivers had entering and exiting the highway, particularly since the speed limit was 65-70. When we crossed over into Alabama, there seemed to be more room. This had me pondering why the same highway had such discrepancies.
- Create a playlist to describe your trip: When you spend a long time in the car, chances are music becomes involved at some point. I started thinking about different songs, either by title or verse that would have “fit” the trip. For instance, we left New Orleans, LA and traveled through Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. My playlist began to build: “Louisiana Saturday Night”, “Mississippi Queen”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Rocky Top Tennessee”, “My Old Kentucky Home”…
So “unplug” those devices for some of your trip and get your mind stimulated! Take a notepad and capture ideas for later research as well!