If you have a summer vacation planned, that means you'll have to travel. And if you have little ones to entertain, you'll need to have games and activities planned for the travel as well. To truly make this time special and meaningful for your children, consider planning the best educational games for the trip to grow your minds during this new experience. Here are five wonderful travel games for you and your family to play:
The License Plate Game: You've likely heard of this one. If you're traveling by car, have the team look around for license plates from different states, and call out the most exotic or far-away ones you can find. To make the game more interesting and nuanced, award prizes (travel snacks, quarters to buy souvenirs at your destination, or other) for those who can go a step further and name a fact about the state, such as:
- State capital
- A large city in the state
- A landmark in the state
- A sports team from that state
- A famous person in history from that state
This way, the game provides entertainment, a way for your children to enjoy and engage with the scenery, and a fun way to discuss new facts about the nation's geography and history outside your own state.
ABC's: This can be played anywhere, and is an enhanced version of I Spy. Make a game of pointing out items around you that begin with each letter of the alphabet. To truly gamify this for your traveling companions, go around in a circle and have each person find an item in order, from A all the way to Z. Award bonus points if the person can then name a fun fact about their item, or if they can find a double-letter item (like a pink pen). You'll be increasing awareness and lateral thinking while you play! Have the person with the most points choose the next game, or pick the first trip activity, to increase excitement.
Who am I?: Whether or not you're able to bring the official deck of cards for this game, Who am I? is an easy travel choice that encourages knowledge of history, current events, geography, and more, with the added use of investigative thinking skills. If you don't have a deck of cards with pre-selected topics, you can very easily choose them yourself: have one person be "it," secretly choosing a person, place, or thing (an event, animal, food, etc.). To be educational and meaningful, ensure that you choose historical figures, or thoughtful and interesting places and events you all can learn more about. Then, the person who is "it" will begin giving one-sentence clues about their topic. The first person of the group to correctly guess wins! For younger children, choose simpler topics and themes, depending on their current level.
The Question Game: This game encourages thoughtful reflection and self-awareness. Go around the group, asking each individual one thoughtful question. You can ask the same question of each child (if you have more than one) to see the variety in answers, or ask each a different question to keep them on their toes. The questions should require detailed answers (no "yes" or "no" responses) that can't be automatically figured out, so take some time to figure out your questions beforehand. Some options are:
- What three things make you feel the happiest?
- Who is your best friend? Why is this person such a good friend to you?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What do you think your life would be like if you'd grown up in Antarctica/the forest/China/etc.? Why?
Describing/Forecasting Weather: This game adds a bit of a science element to your travel. It may be easiest in a car, or a train, as it requires you to see the sky from below. This can be more or less complicated depending on the ages of your travelers. For young children, have them describe the weather they're seeing. Then, explain to them what it means and how the clouds, sun, or rain will affect the area's entire day. For older children, have them describe the weather and then go further to forecast how the day will go. If there are clouds and the children are old enough, have them guess the cloud type. Have fun with it, and use a smartphone to find images and descriptions to confirm your answers! You'll teach the children about weather with real applications, and it will be fun.
With these five games, traveling will not only be fun for the whole group, but it will enhance the trip's opportunity for growth and learning for everyone.