(BCM) – Taking a long trip in the car, an airplane or maybe even on a train? You don’t need to rely on distractions like watching movies to keep your children engaged. It’s possible for them to learn and play while you’re traveling too. This activity, adapted from Boston Children’s Museum’s Beyond the Chalkboard website, helps kids practice observing, collecting data, predicting, problem solving and critical thinking, as well as literacy skills like communicating and writing. Oh, and you get to play too!
You will need:
• Blank sheets of paper
• Pencils or pens
Before you depart (you can do this while you’re traveling if you need to) take several sheets of blank paper and draw grids on them measuring 4 boxes across and 4 boxes down, kind of like a large 4 X 4 tic-tac-toe grid. Hand a grid to each child (and you should make one too), and ask them to predict the kinds of things they might see outside the window of your car, the train or the airplane while you are traveling. Will they see people? Garbage trucks? Giraffes? Encourage them to think of both living and non-living things, and encourage them to be creative—rather than just saying “a person,” try “a person with a blue shirt,” etc. Each animal, person or thing that they predict they will see should go into one of the boxes of their grid. Leave any two boxes empty and put a ‘?’ in them. All other boxes (14 in total) should have something that they predicted in them. If it’s a long trip, have each player make 1-2 more grids. Players can repeat predicted people, animals or things on each grid; and should try to think about where in the grid they place each item. Strategy might matter…
Make sure to pack these grids and pencils or pens before you go!
While you are traveling, pull out the grids and play (sorry driver…keep those eyes on the road). Resting the paper on a book or magazine might be helpful. Players should look for the objects on their cards. When a player sees something that she predicted she would see outside the window, she should mark that square on her sheet with a pencil or pen. The squares with a ‘?’ in them are “wild cards”: any time a player sees something that he wasn’t expecting to see, he can write that down in one of these squares. The first player to get 4 items in a row across, down or diagonally should yell out “Bingo!” (or “I’m Awesome!” or “Wheeeee!”). Share with each other what you observed. And then, play again with the same sheets or with new ones. Oh, and happy travels!
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