Wednesday, January 19, 2011

RVing with Young Children

On January 5th, I receive a grand from the Mom Central Canada Recipient-Button_thumbBlogger Grant Program to write and publish a post on RVing with young children.

As I was writing this post, it dawned on me that it was getting unbelievably long…  *grin*    So I have decided to split this subject in two parts.  This is part 2 of the post.

TIPS AND TRICKS ON TRAVELLING LONG DISTANCE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

A) Planning before leaving

I am a planner.    Ask our family and friends and they will confirm that our family likes to plan…  sometimes we do spontaneous things but for travelling – planning is a must I find.  That way I make sure that we don’t forget anything (like I did before with necessary clothes for my husband and oldest son one year when we went camping… Since then I have lists to go through while packing!).

The most important thing to do before leaving is planning and know what to pack.   Often, we have the tendency to forget that kids gets bored easily while on the road.  We think of packing clothes, food and so on but what about something to keep them occupied on the road.

Each of my kids have their own backpack in which they put books to discover while driving to our destination.   I guess I got this idea from my mom because when I was younger she organized a little basket with surprises for our trip to Florida.  And she had planned for more surprises for the trip back home.   

In the backpack, there might be other things than books.  For example, I would put a toy or two as well as their favourite stuffed animal (we can’t forget them!).   For the oldest, I might include a brain puzzle or two, some word searches as well.   We also have Nintendo DSs as well as a couple of iPods that will be included in our luggage but used as a last resort while the driving is longer than expected.

Our Suburban do not have the DVD player and we have mixed feelings about letting the kids listen to too much television.   We prefer controlling the amount of television they have and let them use their imagination more often.

B) On the road

While driving, the kids can dig in their backpacks as much as they want.  But we also have some fun games we can play while driving…

I Spy with my Little Eyeimage

You  might be familiar with this game.    Each person in the vehicle takes their turn and says “I spy with my little eye…” and complete the sentence with something like “something that is red.”   The rule we have though is that whatever the person has seen and want the others to discover must be something that we will see as well.  For example, the child can’t announce something that he saw at the last minute and nobody else has seen.   We usually take something that is in our vehicle, in the distance or that is repetitive outside like cows for example…

imageAlphabet Game

The Alphabet Game is quite easy.   Going through the alphabet, you have to spot the letters of the alphabet (in order) in the various signs you come across while driving.   When you see one of the letters, you shout it.  The first to arrive at the Z wins…   When you have younger children, they can team up with mom and dad to add more fun.     You could also decide to go through the alphabet and name animals that start with each letters.

Number Game

The number game is similar to the Alphabet Game except this time you go through numbers.   However, you can not put one number in a sign, you have to find the said number by itself.   We usually agree on a number to end for example – go up to 25.

imageGeography activity

While driving during the summer, you can discover other travellers while on the road.   If you look at the plates on the vehicles you pass on the road, you can identify where they come from.   Discovering the plates from the provinces, territories and states is one way of learning more about geography.   Add some fun by giving the kids a maps of the US and Canada so they can spot the places where the other travellers are coming from.

Are we there Yet?530076o_thumb1

I have this game since I was a teenager… and still have it.  Yikes!  Nevertheless mine is an older edition but after searching on Google I discovered that a new edition is available.  Similar to the I Spy game, this game will include categories like Objects, Signs, Safety, People, Alphabet and Parachute.   A fun way to spend time while on the road!    It is available at amazon.com and Christianbook.com.

Books on CD

While driving PA,MA,ME, NB and PE a few years ago, we decided to go through the Narnia series on CD.   We had a blast following the adventures of the characters  in the well-known C.S. Lewis series.    I am particularly fond of the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre products as  I know that the quality of the stories will be fantastic.   They have a variety of titles available like:  Amazing Grace, At the Back of the North Wind, A Christmas Carol, Father Gilbert Mysteries, Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom, Ben-Hur, The Luke Reports, The Life of Jesus, Anne of Green Gables, The Screwtape Letters, and many more.  Many titles to satisfy the listening ears of everyone!  

There are many different books on CD that you can purchase.  Check out  http://www.radiotheatre.org/ or ttp://christianaudio.com/children-youth for the various choices that are there.   Another great one that I have heard is worth having are the Jonathan Park Adventures which we have not listened at yet.

Vol52_cause_and_effect_3D_thumbOur kids particularly enjoy the Adventures in Odysseys from Focus on the Family.  These fun radio adventures will keep your kids entertained and will also give some interesting teaching opportunities for you.   Each episode has a teaching lesson that can be discussed while driving.    I highly recommend them even for your travelling in to go to an activity.  We listen to these on a weekly basis while driving to the swimming lessons.

C) Discovering in a new city

Before you leave on a trip, I would strongly suggest that you consider purchasing a membership at a museum in your city.  Why?  Let me explain.    In Ottawa, there are many museums.   We have been members of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation for many years now.   This corporation includes the following museums in our city:   Canada Agriculture Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum as well as Canada Science and Technology Museum.   Our membership gives us access to these three museums anytime during the year which is perfect for field trips when you are homeschooling.   But this membership also gives us unlimited free admission to more than 290 museums and sciences centres across Canada and around the world!   Yes unlimited.   So check out the museums in your area to see what the membership will give you as you might be surprised by the opportunities hidden behind the purchase of the membership.   In the past few years, we have been blessed with access to museums for free in cities like Boston, Toronto, Sudbury, Chicago, Buffalo, and Fredericton – just to name a few.  

For example, last year while travelling on the road so that my 2010_09_04_11_09_08_thumbhusband can go take the requirements to a client in Elliot Lake, ON, we stopped in Sudbury for a week.   We were able to visit the Science North not once, not twice but four times during that rainy week.    And we had a blast doing so because there was so much to discover in that museum.   The kids particularly liked the Nature’s Market where they could bring some things from the nature and exchange them for other things.   They are still talking about it…  They even experienced how to polish a rock with the lapidary laboratory!   That in itself was an experience I am sure they will not forget.

The same idea goes with a zoo.   Last year, we decided to buy a two year membership at the Toronto Zoo.   We are planning to take advantage of this for the two years coming.   But at the same time, such a membership will give you rebates at other zoos or aquariums in Canada and the US.   So if you plan to travel more, consider the possibility of buying a longer membership as the yearly amount is reduced.

I would also suggest that previous to the trip, you would keep an eye on a Groupon close to your destination.   It is easy to follow Groupon for your own city or other places as well.   Simply select the ones you want to receive in your emails.  You would be surprise to discover the deals you can have just by following them.    With a site similar to Groupon for our own city, we were able to get a year membership for the family at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum for a low price! 

Another fun thing to do with younger kids is to explore a park or a botanical garden.  Bring a lunch.  Enjoy the nature.  Talk together.

D) Factory Tours

Since we started travelling in the US, we have discovered that it is possible to visit factories and discover how things are made.   One of the websites I rely on is Factory Tours USA which will give you the information you need to plan some interesting visits for your family.

wim4If you prefer having a book, here an interesting one titled Watch It Made in the U.S.A. (http://www.factorytour.com/).   We personally owned this one and make sure that it is included in our luggage when we leave.  It contains fun tours for the whole family.   

Before visiting a factory, make sure that there isn’t restrictions to the visit.  Some places have specific age limits.   So be aware that your little ones might not be allowed in some of the factories.

One of the fun places we visited in the past was the Martins Guitar factory in Nazareth, PA.   We learned how a Martins guitar was made from A to Z be going through their factory.    Below are some pictures that were taken when  we visited the place.

2008_06_09_12_08_402008_06_09_12_11_28

We find visiting factories are very instructive especially when it allows you to witness the creation of an item that you have in your house.

E) Expect rainy days

As much as I would love to have beautiful days while we are travelling, it is not always the case.   Sometimes, you might have rainy days (or hit a whole week of rainy days like we did last September while we were in Sudbury!).   Nevertheless, you can have fun as a family.   Pack some movies, bring come crayons and coloring books, don’t forget games and books either.   Use the rainy days to explore a local museum or do a bit of shopping as well.  

F) Keeping track of your kids

We have four kids and when going to a zoo or an attraction park, we are on constant alert.   We want to make sure that we don’t loose any of them while visiting a fun place.    About two years ago, I’ve discovered a Child ID Temporary Safety Tattoos on the internet.  The company is called Safetytat and has a variety of 2010_08_27_12_58_56tattoos that you can write you contact information on it and apply on your child while visiting a busy place.    We used them while visiting the Toronto Zoo last year.  These cool and fun tattoos will stay for a period of 1 week of more which is perfect when vacationing with your family.    I highly recommend these for any family with young children or children with disabilities.  Visit http://www.safetytat.com for more details or order some.

G) Food

As much as I like eating out, when you are in vacation with your WHOLE family is can become very expensive.   So when we plan our outings, we make sure we also bring a lunch with us and bottles of water.   Once in a while we will splurge in being a couple of French fries to surprise the kids but most of the time we try not to spend too much.    

H) Bring your camera

Kids are little only once in their life.  Catching the irresistible memories they will have while vacationing is a must.   Make sure to pack your photo and video cameras in your luggage.   And bring them with you while visiting a place.  You never know when your adorable kids will strike a special pose that will melt your heart when they are older.

Camping%20with%20Kids_cover_PFinally, if you want to read more on how you can camp with kids, I would like to suggest a book titled Camping with Kids.     This book is packed with information on how to enjoy camping with your family including activities like river rafting, boating, backpacking, canoeing and bicycle touring! 

This concludes my two part on RVing.    I had a blast writing the two post and would like to thank Mom Central Canada for the grant I received to do so.   

Recipient ButtonNote: This post was possible because I received one of the Fall 2010 Mom Central Canada Blogger Grant Program.

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Personal blog of a homeschool family. We love to travel with our RV when we can. Fishing, discovering new places, photography are some of our favourite activities!

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