Ways to Learn on a Road Trip

Help your kids work on essential skills with these fun learning ideas.

By Bekki Lindner



Ways to Learn on a Road Trip

Ah, summer. It's the season of s'mores, sprinklers, and backyard campouts. Families gather around the grill, build epic sandcastles, and tell stories under the stars. Summer is also the time when children and parents load into the family car and hit the road — crisscrossing the country, seeing the sites, and making lifetime memories together.

The family road trip is an experience like no other. It's a big mixture of bonding, back-seat squabbles, road-side ice cream stands, natural wonders, cheesy souvenirs, and learning opportunities! As you travel, your children will have many nearly endless opportunities to practice skills, pick-up new information, and satisfy their boundless curiosity.

Here are some skill areas your children can work on as you travel. For each skill area, I've listed some fun learning ideas perfect for your next road trip. Here's to a summer of learning, life-time memories, and safe travels.

The Alphabet

  • Start with A, and have your kids try to spot words on road-side signs and buildings that begin with each letter.
  • Have your children try to find each letter of the alphabet solely on the license plates of passing vehicles.

Maps and Geography

  • Print out a blank map of the country or the area in which you'll be traveling. As you pass through each state (or city/county/province, etc.) have your children color it in on their maps. Older children can label each state, mark the capital, note landmarks, etc.
  •  Look for license plates! Each time your kids spot a different license plate, they can color in the corresponding state on their maps. Kids will enjoy seeing how many states they can "collect" on your trip. Here's how you can extend this activity: 
  • Before you leave, have your children make predictions regarding how many states they think they might be able to find. 
    • Ask, "Which states do you think will be the most difficult to find?"
    • Ask "Which state(s) do you think we will see the most of?"
    • Hand your children a paper map or atlas. In today's digital age, many children have not had experience with paper maps. Let your kids play the role of "navigator" or have them try to find the route you are on, noting the roads, landmarks, etc.


  • While many people have difficulty reading in the car, a road trip is the perfect time to listen to an audio book! Listen to a classic or discover a new favorite — and don't forget to talk about it as a family!
  • Read the signs! I don't know about you, but I've stopped at many historical markers and roadside plaques and never read a single word! Stop and READ the information. Have your kids read the signs aloud if they are able to.
  • Collect brochures. Reading the informational and advertorial brochures that seem to abound on road trips can be a great change-up for the bored reader.

Have another idea? Join the discussion on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page. Happy travels this summer, everyone!

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