Take the school basics and turn them into a game. This not only helps to pass the time, but brings out the creativity in the whole family! Have fun in your travels.
English and Grammar:
Adjective game- with such beauty surrounding us, we enjoyed the challenge of finding ways to describe what we were seeing. The challenge was to find as many descriptive words to capture the beauty of what we were seeing. We had the most luck in the Grand Tetons, where we came up with 103 adjectives! The winner was the one who came up with the most creative list.
Dynamic Action- another fun one (you can tell I tend towards English) was the dynamic action game where we had to find more interesting ways to say a specific verb. Dad would give the verb and the kids would come up with as many different and more interesting way to say the same thing. We replaced the word walked with words like strutted, strolled, bounded, leaped, skipped, crept, stumbled, hiked and many more.
Fun Adverbs- same idea as the action verb game. This time, we started with the same verb as before (i.e. walked) and came up with adverbs to describe how the animal or person walked. Some ideas were walked crazily, uncertainly, funny, quickly, slowly, dynamically, confidently... The more we tried this one, the better we became.
Writing- we practiced writing verbally with story starters. One of us would begin the story and then we would go around the circle to add to it. We did not limit it to one sentence at a time. Instead, we allowed each person to be creative. This resulted in a lot of hilarious scenarios. I also used it as a review of what we learned in a specific place. For example, after visiting Cody, Wyoming, we made up a story about Bill Cody. The only rule was that as each person added to the story, they had to be sure to include one fact from what we learned. This satisfied the teacher in me and satisfied the desire for fun and creativity in the kids.
Addition and Subtraction- we combined this one with Geography. I taught my eight year old how to calculate the number of miles from place to place on a map. She loved pulling out the map and making the calculations. So, I would give her a challenge that included several different positions and she would first find all of the mile markers, then add up all of the numbers to figure out how many miles we had to travel. Then, each time we completed one segment of the trip, she had to subtract the number of miles we just traveled from the total number she had calculated. Believe it or not, she never tired of this one!
Percentages- to include the older two in this one, we would have them figure out what percent of the total trip we had completed at each different segment. Then, they had to convert that percent to a decimal. Not received with enthusiasm, but it did give them perspective on how far we still had to go to reach our destination.
Probability- my 13-year old came up with this one. She made up a game where they would each select a color and count the number of cars they saw that were that color. After 5 minutes, they would add up the total number of tally marks from each kid and figure out the probability of seeing each different color of car. They tried to extend this to wildlife in the more scenic areas, but lost patience pretty quickly when they only saw a few of each in the five minute time period.
We purchased a book before the trip called Whose Clues, which challenges individuals to figure out an inventor, sports figure, historical figure, scientist, etc. based on a series of clues. The clues progress from very vague information to more specific and recognizable. Usually by the time we get to the end of the clues list, we have identified the individual.
We enjoyed this so much that we decided to create our own. So, after each stop, we would each come up with a series of clues for a person, place, animal or event and challenge one another with our riddles. This was a lot of fun! The riddles ranged from very easy (from our eight year old) to nearly impossible but were always a great way to pass the time and review what we had learned, experienced or seen at any given stop.
Stories with Holes- if you enjoy thinking creatively, you will love this one! Before our trip, I grabbed a series of books called Stories with Holes. These books are filled with crazy riddles that you must solve by asking only yes or no questions. Ranging from the ridiculous to the very challenging, a story could fill quite a bit of time as we tried to figure out the twist that would solve it for us.
Creativity Day by Day- another terrific resource, this one can be used all year long as a resource for writing assignments or discussions. We used it in both ways on this trip, sometimes just looking for something to talk about, and other times looking for a way to keep the kids occupied without us for a block of time as a writing assignment. Talk about learning a lot about your kids. With questions like, “Who has more freedom, children or adults?” or “If you could have 1000 of any one thing, what would it be (besides money)?” we delved a little deeper into our family personalities, values, ambitions and so much more. This became such a favorite that we are still going strong with it now that we are home.
Jessica Parnell is passionate about homeschooling. A wife, mother and former public high school teacher, Jessica has transferred this passion into her career as Principal of Bridgeway Homeschool Academy. Her passion grows out of a deep desire to see every child reach their God given potential and purpose through faith-based, customized, and flexible homeschooling. With over 25 years of experience helping over 24,000 families to homeschool their way, Jessica is dedicated to helping families understand the freedom that comes with homeschooling and to empowering parents, a child's first teacher, to feel confident in taking control of their child's education. homeschoolacademy.com
Publication date: January 31, 2014