Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life
A Cure for the Backseat Blues

April 2003 Issue

Safety On Wheels

Digital Photography

Quick Sweet
Summer Treats

A Cure for the
Backseat Blues

Developing “Little
People” Skills

Did You Know?

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For many families, summer vacation means it’s time for a road trip. Whether it’s a two-hour drive to an amusement park or a two-week cross-country outing, downtime in the backseat can be a nightmare for both kids and parents. It may take some creativity and planning, but there are ways to make travel time a bit more bearable. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

With the increased popularity of DVD players, more and more automobiles, minivans and sport utility vehicles offer the option of a DVD system built-in for rear seat passengers. If you are fortunate enough to have such a system in your new vehicle, a collection of movies will do wonders to help pass the travel time. If the DVD idea sounds appealing to you but your vehicle did not come equipped with one from the factory, there are currently a number of aftermarket systems available that make it easy to add this little luxury to the backseat for your kids. In a pinch, many laptop computers now come with DVD players built-in and could also be used to provide movie entertainment.

For shorter trips or to add some variety for longer trips, card games are an easy, portable activity. Old standards such as “War,” “Go Fish,” and “Hearts” are easy to learn and can help fill an hour of idle time. A number of game manufacturers have developed specialty card games that are perfect for kids to play as well. Some board games are also now available in mini-travel forms and provide a fun way to practice spelling and vocabulary skills during the trip.

If you are traveling through various states on your journey, use the opportunity to teach your children some things about geography and history. Spend a little time on your own researching the states you’ll be traveling through, and develop a list of items such as state capital, state bird, state motto and other interesting items. Work the facts into conversation with your kids as you’re traveling and periodically quick quiz them on the facts. Plan your route ahead of time and factor in time to visit a few historical points of interest along the way. More and more historical sites have quick programs for younger visitors.

Depending upon the ages of your children, sing-along tapes or CDs may also provide some variety during a lengthy trip. Keep a box of crayons, a coloring book, a couple notepads and pencils handy for quick games. Try other quick road games such as:

“Twenty Questions” (one player thinks of something animal, vegetable or mineral and others try to guess the item by asking questions that produce a “yes” or “no” answer).

Develop word chains to practice spelling skills. Start by saying a word and the next person must say a word that begins with the final letter of the previous word (i.e., a response to “truck” would be “kite” and so on).

When choosing a travel game, make it as age appropriate as possible. Teenagers may be content to listen to their MP3 players and you can spend the time with your younger travelers making their trip more entertaining. So have a little fun and help pass the time for the entire family. Before you know it, you will be at your destination and you can let the vacation fun begin!

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