By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki
Summer is officially here, and children everywhere are rejoicing as they take a much-needed break from the daily grind of school. The swimming pool, beach, and couch in front of the TV all beckon. But the long summer break holds its own dangers as much hard-won learning falls by the wayside.
Still, the joyous anticipation of summer traveling can have its own learning reward, if parents are strategic and thoughtful in planning their summer travels. There are a number of ways to turn summer vacation into a series of unique learning opportunities. Read on!
Keep a Journal
EDSitement encourages students to use their summer travel experiences to learn about new places and document their understanding of what they encounter. They can also use the journal to challenge themselves to answer questions about the places they are visiting:
- What’s special about this place?
- Who comes here to vacation?
- Do people live here, year-round?
- What was this place like 100 years ago?
- What will it be like 100 years from now?
Finding the answers to questions such as these can set students on a path to understanding the historical and cultural significance of their vacation destinations.
Map and Compare
Kids can use National Geographic’s XPeditions Atlas to make a map of the places they travel in advance, print it out, and draw their vacation route. They can also note where they stop along the way.
While they’re planning travel, they can take some time to learn about other famous travelers that came before them, such as through “Marco Polo and His Travels.
To better appreciate the comforts of modern-day travel, despite traffic jams and airport lines, read about what travel was like in the 1850s on the Oregon Trail at OregonTrail101.
Create a Vacation Guide
Kids can create a tourist guide of their vacation destination using a travel brochure template from ReadWriteThink.
Visit a City
A visit to a city can give your family a hearty dose of art, culture and science in a short period of time. Look for children’s museums, natural history or science museums, aquariums, zoos and art museums.
Historic destinations abound, from the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, to the Freedom Trail in Boston, to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, to, well, everything in Washington, D.C.
Visit a Park
If your kids love nature and wildlife – and what child doesn’t? – try a family vacation to a national park or a state park. Before you leave home, visit the park’s websites to see what family activities are offered. You can get involved in the National Park Passport Program, collecting stamps at each one you visit, an activity that can be continued throughout your kids’ childhoods. Or your children can participate in the Junior Ranger Program and earn a patch or certificate for participating in educational activities.
Follow Their Passions
Pursue your children’s passion on vacation.
Is your child obsessed with dinosaurs? Consider a trip to Colorado’s Dinosaur National Monument, where visitors can see over 1,500 dinosaur fossils exposed on the cliff face inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall.
Got a future astronaut in your household? Visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (It’s not that far from Walt Disney World, so you could add a little plain old fun while you’re at it.)
Visit Another Country
Nothing shifts the perspective as much as visiting another culture. Experiencing different foods, language, customs, weather and terrain lays the groundwork for hundreds of lessons learned. Start with a capital city such as Paris, London or Rome and immerse yourself in the food, history, art and culture of the country. You can walk around, take a double-decker bus ride, visit historical sites, art museums, outdoor festivals, and of course, restaurants.
These are just a few ideas for how to make your family vacation education. Be creative and you can find many more! Get the kids involved in the planning and they will learn even more. Have a great summer!
Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.
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