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This needs to start with the big disclaimer that I know the author of this book in an online friend sense. We used to be colleagues at About.com and she has gone on to do amazing things, including writing three books and working for Understood to be an even bigger advocate for kids with learning and attention issues than she already was. But I would like her books even if I didn’t know her.
A lot of parenting seems to be about waiting. We wait for our kids to get ready in the morning, wait for them to finish eating, wait in the pickup line at school or at the ball park.
But a lot of a kid’s life is waiting, too: in doctor’s offices, at restaurants, on car trips, in airplanes and other places where you might not have access to toys.
The book is broken down into specific activities that make sense in the context of a trip in a car, on a plane or train, in a hotel or while on vacation, in waiting rooms or restaurants and while on shopping trips. There are also some activities that can be done at home when you need a moment’s peace to get some work done.
There are brainteasers and puzzles you can work right in the book, classic game ideas like I-spy, road sign bingo and rock paper scissors, but there are lots of ideas to entertain kids on a trip here you might not have thought of before.
A random selection:
- have your child draw a billboard for a product, real or imagined
- give each family member a fast-food restaurant to look for throughout the trip and keep count of how many you see
- face your child and act as a mirror, with your child doing what you do
- list all the fruits and vegetables you can think of while at the grocery store
- use plastic cups to build and stack
- take along window markers and let your child draw on the car windows
- bring a pack of Post-its and draw monster parts on different notes, then mix them up to make different creatures
- make up stories about the people you see waiting or walking around
- count mileage across the whole trip, time how long it takes to drive across a state, or calculate how long it might take to walk the distance you have traveled
There are math games, activities that involve making up songs or rhymes, art activities, things that require your child to observe what’s going on around them and more. So not only are these activities a fun way to pass the time, they’re also reinforcing language, math, creativity and music, among other things. How cool is that?
Most of the activities do not require any materials, but there’s also a handy list of road trip essentials you might want to pack that can be used for some of them.
And for those times when you might all need a little quiet time, there are recommendations for different apps your child can use on a phone or iPad that will teach them about geography or give them something to play with around the theme of a restaurant or doctor’s office.
The book is small enough you can carry it around in your massive mom purse when you’re on a trip, or leave it in the car for those times when you’re sure to be waiting. While some of the activities are better for kids who can read and do math, there’s plenty here that younger kids will enjoy, too, and you’ll love never being stuck for an idea to fill time again.