Long family car trips with young children can be quite taxing on the parents’ patience. And, it can also be boring to play time after time. Even the grandparents get tired of some of the games. Now, that is not to say that I do not enjoy my smart, lovely and rambunctious (sometimes quite loud) grandkids. My grandkids have become my greatest joy in my “older” years. So, let’s review just a few games that have been played over my lifetime with young kids. Then, let’s explore something a little bit different – still some games but combined with books.
I Spy: I must admit as a former speech/language pathologist that this is an excellent communication and turn-taking game. It facilitates the language skill of descriptors. It also helps with verbal memory. “I spy something yellow. It is bigger than our car. What is it?”
Hold Your Breath: Now this is a game that would not support a language skill but could certainly be fun for the kids who are a bit competitive. The point of the game is not to encourage kids to pass out.
Count the Cars: While you are at a railroad crossing waiting for the train to pass work with the kids on counting.
Quiet Game: Now this game has no language skills at all. The most this game does is give the parents/grandparents some quiet time.
Prior to going on a trip create a grid with an alphabet letter in each grid. As you travel look at license plates and check each letter when you see a plate that begins with that letter. This is not necessarily a competition because kids often cannot see the plates. So, the parents can say, “There is a license plate for ‘Texas’. Check the /T/ box. When you arrive at your hotel have them count the number of plates; i.e., 5 with /t/, 3 with /c/, etc.
There are other car games for various ages. However, I would like to suggest using books for entertainment. These are not books that are for reading skills but will encourage language skills or second language. They are also books that lend themselves to conversation.
This book is not a story with a plot but fun one-page jokes. The book supports the pre-reading and early speech skill of rhyming. “If your mom said, “Eat your meat,” and you thought she said, “Eat your feet,” what would you do? Following a series of well-illustrated rhyming jokes are 21 rhyming pictures to help the children come up with jokes. By the time the parents/grandparents have gone through all the rhyming words the older preschoolers and early elementary children will get the hang of coming up with rhyming words on their own.
This is a fun book to introduce preschoolers to many fairy tales that enumerate “three”. It also introduces to the young children the difference between what you see and what you hear. You can see a “cow” but you hear it say, “moo”. You can see the letter /s/ but when you say it, it sounds like a snake. For the very young children who are just learning sounds play the game of “What Do I Say?” Download and print the coloring pictures from the EEK! Activity booklet at https://www.slpstorytellers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/EEKActivityPacket-1.pdf.
Interactive reading and words set to music have been shown to be more effective in teaching languages. This book will give your young children exposure to Spanish. The book is written in English and then in Spanish. There are additional verbs in English and translated to Spanish in the back of the book. As you read the book sing the words to “Frere Jacque”. You can also play charades while at the hotel. This gives extended practice in responding to correct verbiage. “What am I doing?” “What are you doing?” “What did you do?” This book is excellent for students who have a language delay. Practice with the verbs set to music if more effective and more fun.
Take a travel book. Galapagos Rules! Postcards from Poppies can be a take-off on traveling to places one may never have the opportunity to see. This book will introduce your children to a delightful place where they can see different animals. These islands are some of the most pristine places left and will remain so as long as they are protected. Few children will have the opportunity to see the biodiversity one finds in these islands. Travel through the islands in the book, Galapagos Rules! Postcards from Poppies, to learn the rules that protect all the diverse species on the islands. The book is comprised of stunning photos taken by the author when she visited the islands.
To receive a Galapagos Rules! postcard signed by “Poppies” and the author of Galapagos Rules! Postcards from Poppies email email@example.com and attach a copy of your book purchase receipt. Please do not give us your child’s name for security purposes. You will write in the child’s name when you receive the postcard in an envelope.