10 Teachable Moments in the Car
Use these tips for inspired instruction on any ride, from quick drives to the store to longer road trips.
Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Adding and Subtracting
Calculate miles per hour. Tell your child how fast you plan on going for a specific stretch of road — for example, 60 miles per hour on the highway for ten minutes. Ask him to tell you the formula he would use to figure out how many miles you should have traveled at that pace (60 mph = one mile per minute, so you would travel ten miles). Then check the odometer to see how accurate he was at the end of the time limit.
Predict the total cost of gas. If your car needs six gallons of gasoline to be full and the price is $3.29 per gallon, how much will you spend? Ask your child to predict the cost for a quick math exercise at the gas station.
Collect license plate states. Introduce observation skills by playing the license plate game. See how many different states your child can point out on a ride.
Rhyme time! Play a rhyming game to pass time. Each time you say a sentence, your child has to answer with a statement that rhymes. It's a great way to sharpen literacy skills.
Read road signs. To strengthen your child's reading comprehension and fluency, ask her to read road signs to you. Since the signs whiz by quickly, this really tests reading reflexes.
Practice spelling words. Help your child think about spelling without a pen and paper in front of him. As you drive, quiz him on words so he can visualize them as he spells them aloud.
Which way do we go? For younger learners, a car ride is a perfect opportunity to introduce "right" and "left." When you stop at a corner, point, "I'm going that way. Which way am I going?"
Play “red light/green light.” Put a different spin on a classic game. When you get in the car, predict how long a red light might last. Each time you stop at a light, your little one counts to see how close your guess was.
Fasten your seatbelts. You can use the car to practice spelling and math, but it's also a place for lessons on health and safety. Always stress how important it is to buckle up.
- Test memory. Ask your child to direct you in the car on familiar routes. When it comes time to make a turn or look for a specific street name, see if she can remember.