Summer road trips can be long, exhausting, and filled with electronics. It can be important to set limits with these, even in the car. To do this in our family, I try to find ways to get my kids to put down their gadgets and explore the world around them — especially when we're traveling. These engaging activities and games are a great choice for road trip entertainment. Plus, math-focused play reinforces your child's understanding of basic math concepts and is a good way to prevent the summer slide.
Here are six of my favorite games to play during road trips.
- Numbers to 100: Just like the Alphabet Game, try to find numbers in order from 1 to 100 on road signs, license plates, maps, etc. This game can be played at any level. Adjust the number down to 20 for young children or up to 200 for older children.
- Don’t Say My Number: In this game, someone chooses a number that no one is allowed to say. Go around the car and count by ones — but skip any number that contains the number selected earlier. For example, let's say the number not to say is 4. That means you can't say 4, 14, 24, 34, or any number in the 40s. It would sound like this: "1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, etc." If anyone messes up you have to start again. See how high you can count but don’t say my number!
- Shape Search: Choose different two- and three-dimensional shapes and find them all around as you are driving. You can start with a triangle and work your way up to different sided shapes, like an octagon. Kids love searching for shapes in the real world.
- What’s My Number? Think of a number and give clues to help your child figure out the number. Click here for instructions on how to play.
- Collect My Data: Pick a category of items to collect data on, like animals, colors, signs, etc. Once your child has picked his category, he can create a tally chart of the items and mark off every time he sees one. When you return from your trip, he can graph his data to show which item was seen the most or least. It’s a great keepsake of your family trip!
- Map It Out! Before you leave for your trip, have your child map out the route you are traveling. She can calculate the number of miles, total amount of time, and different paths you will take. Your child can monitor your traveling progress along the way and will have a better understanding of when you will be arriving at your destination.
Traveling is such an important part of young children’s lives. Playing games and activities will help your children become more engaged in your family adventures. Help them discover all the math around them!
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