Family road trips are the ideal vehicle for hands-on learning. Rather than allow your kids to blow travel time watching movies, playing video games or annoying their siblings have them master geography using colorful flashcards or practice math facts using your vehicle’s odometer and mile markers along the highway.
By involving the entire family in some interactive “car-schooling” your kids will have the states and capitals memorized in no time. To test your children’s memory print out a blank map of the United States and have them fill in the names of the states. This activity will not only help them become proficient in geography, but they’ll also be getting lessons in spelling and handwriting. Depending on the age of your kids, you could also use the map project to teach your traveling brood about state abbreviations. Your rolling classroom can also be where your children learn how to list the 50 states in alphabetical order.
Don’t stop there. A road trip can also serve as inspiration for lessons on state flowers, trees and birds. The Internet is teeming with printable lists of state birds complete with vibrant photos and other interesting facts. Some of the most unique specimens include:
- Alaska: Willow Ptarmigan
- Arizona: Cactus Wren
- Delaware: Blue Hen Chicken
- Hawaii: Nene Goose
- Louisiana: Eastern Brown Pelican
- New Hampshire: Purple Finch
- New Mexico: Roadrunner
- Oklahoma: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
- Pennsylvania: Ruffed Grouse
- South Carolina: Great Carolina Wren
- Vermont: Hermit Thrush
- Wyoming: Western Meadowlark
For an advanced lesson, have your kids share what the choice of state bird, flower or tree says about the climate of a specific region. If your children enjoy drawing, have them sketch pictures of state flowers or trees. Another fun activity is to track down the designated flower, bird or tree of the state you are visiting.