The Wheels on the Bus …
By Kristi R. Lachlan
Packing up the kids to head out for a day of errands? What about that road trip to Grandma’s house? Taking the kids out and about can be a challenge; but, it does not have to be. When kids get bored, they will look for ways to entertain themselves. Most times, these are not productive or positive choices. Let’s look at some on-the-go engagement ideas for children on-the-move.
- Keep it Hands-On: There are many activities for small hands that are both engaging and compact. The most important thing to remember is that children are most engaged when an activity incorporates multiple senses. Using the hands not only engages the child, it gives them a chance to work on those little muscles in their fingers to prepare for handwriting. Ideas include: a lap tray with coloring books/crayons, colorful clay, etc.
- Reduce Technology: Children are getting more an d more screen time each day from exposure to television and DVDs as well as use of a tablet or phone. While these activities entertain children, they are a form of passive engagement versus active engagement. What this means is that there is little to no work on the child’s part to obtain the entertainment. It is important that children learn to use technology, but handing them the smartphone or tablet or turning on the DVD player in the car should only happen occasionally rather that every time they get in the car to go somewhere. Reserve technology for longer road trips.
- Build Language Skills: Word games and problem solving games are a great way to pass the time on daily errands or a long journey. Teach your children to play games like I SPY or 20 QUESTIONS (without the 20 question limit). Once they reach an age where they are working on letter identification, try to find each letter of the alphabet as you drive in your surroundings…who can find all of the alphabet letters first? There are many children’s books on CD or tape that can be checked out at your local library or purchased through Scholastic. So pop in the CD and share story time with your children while on the go! Or remember, sometimes the best story is a personal anecdote from your past…the story of mom or dad involves people the children know and carries true life lessons.
- Musical Options: Musical knowledge is tied to mathematical understanding. Turning on the radio or playing a CD can be an excellent form of entertainment for children while driving. It is of course important to keep it interactive. Make listening a sing-a-long activity where the whole family bursts into song or takes turns showcasing their musical talent (regardless of quality). Be sure that you choose child friendly stations or discs to listen to. Another option is to teach the children to find the beat and clap along.
As you can see there are many options for creative and engaging activities to occupy children that will help them learn and grow while on-the-go! Just use your imagination and think outside the box. It is easy to lean on tech for help, but learning and growing together is far more special and interesting for your little traveling buddy. Who knows? Perhaps you will start looking for things to do on the go so that you can share that special one-on-one time with your child as you drive. Enjoy the trip!