By Waheeda Essop (Occupational Therapist)
“Are we there yet??”
While booking and packing for a holiday is exciting, travelling to your destination with children can be stressful and unpredictable. However, with a little planning and a few activity ideas…your journey can be made pleasant from start to finish. Here are some ideas on how you can keep your kids entertained while travelling.
- The Audible Movie
On a road trip, entertaining audiobooks are a must. Be sure to have age appropriate ones for the little ones and consider the length of the story to match your child’s attention span. Movie audiobooks are popular as children already have some insight into the characters and they are usually entertaining to us mums and dads too.
- Travel Journals
A Travel Journal is an excellent activity idea to keep kids busy, during the holiday AND while travelling. And no, they are not only for older kids. Younger kids can also create a journal, except they don’t have to write all their happenings in word-form. These can be done with pictures, drawings or even collections of bobbles and bits from places they visit. A word or two can be encouraged and, depending on their age, they could even make a sentence or rhyme for that particular journal entry, for e.g. ‘we climbed to the top. Excited but hot’. Older kids usually love taking pics of everything they see! Why not let them put together a slideshow movie of the whole trip.
- Card Games. The Old and The New
Card games are small enough to pack and so versatile. There’s the classic ones like Snap, Solitaire and Crazy Eights. Then there are newer card games involving strategy and enhancing memory like Bataraurus from Djeco, a short dinosaur memory game for ages 5-99 years! Pipolo is a bluffing card game by Djeco….requiring one to ‘lie with aplomb’.
- Travel Games
Games such as mazes, ‘finding games’ and magnetic games are easy to play in a moving vehicle and are usually small enough to pack in kid’s backpacks. Djeco have a range of Travel Mini Games like Katupri (memory game)
and Mazes by Ariane.
Melissa and Doug’s Maggie Leigh and Joey Magnetic Dress Up dolls are fun and easy-carriers on that long and dull trip.
- Screen Games of the Classics
So games like charades and 60-seconds are always fun, especially with a bigger, goofier crowd!. Today however, technology has made things easy for us…we don’t always have to have our game board nor do we need to think of movies or things to ‘act out’ like for charades. There are various game Apps to download such as ‘Heads Up’ or ‘Charades kids’. Most games are easy to use and always accessible.
- Activity books
These little books usually have a wide array of activities like sticker fun, join the dots or spot the differences. Be sure to engage your kids while they’re busy with these. Ask them what activity they doing, what they enjoy about the task and to repeat the instructions of the tasks in their own words. This improves vocabulary and improves their ability to relate something and follow instructions.
- Language Games
These are lovely for kids 8 years and below to stimulate phonological development and early reading.
So there’s the classic ‘I spy with my little eye, something blue….’
One could have a different take on this and use sounds,
‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with a P….’
For an advance on this game, one could use the ‘ending sound’ or ‘middle sounds’, for e.g. ‘I spy something with an ee in the middle…’
The game of Naming is also fun. Kids and adults choose a letter of the alphabet, and then everyone has to say/write a ‘name, place, animal, vehicle or colour’ that begins with that letter.
- Memory Games
These can be in the form of a card game or just remembering items mentioned in a verbal game of ‘I went to the shop and bought….’ Each player adds a new item to the basket making the list longer for all to recall.
- Create a story
Everyone has to contribute! ‘It was stormy night and the kids were alone….’. A thought-stimulating game for everyone! It is especially good for creativity and imagination. During this game it is interesting to observe each child’s preferences in a storyline and how they would react in different situations.
Observation and General Knowledge
‘Okay kids…in this leg of the journey we are travelling through the Northern Cape. Keep a look out for Quiver trees…’
Have kids read up or educate them on the area they are in. For younger kids, one can give them instructions like ‘remember 3 unique animals/places you saw today, I will ask you about them later’
This allows children to develop their general knowledge of places and things. It also stimulates their observation and recall skills.
So mums and dads, don’t start the vacation at your destination!! Begin your holiday as you leave your home with these fun travel ideas for kids. Wishing you a FUNomenal festive break!