Friday, June 29, 2012

Learning Travel Journals

Every family needs to have time together that is really just about spending time together and having fun, (and you need a real vacation sometimes too - at least I do anyway) but especially if your family vacation is taking you to some far-off location that you probably won't visit again, you might want to take some educational advantage from the trip.  Here is a pretty easy way to ensure that will happen, your kids will have a fabulous keepsake and memoir about the journey, and you'll be glad you had them do it.  Many of these are once-daily entries that might usually be done at day's end.  If your kid is especially grumpy at night, or if you have a kid (this does not happen with ADHD kids only) whose focus wains more and more as the day grows late, simply make it a first thing in the morning activity, or complete the entries at lunch time instead.

Method #1 ARTSY:
If you have kids that are fairly good at sketching, providing a sketchbook and art pencils for the trip is probably a great idea anyway, but at the end of each day assign a sketch.  Sketch one cool thing you saw today and write a caption that would tell anyone who looked at that sketch what you learned about _______________ because of seeing the thing you choose to sketch.  Fill in the blank to fit the place you visited and your objectives for your kids.  The kinds of things you might choose for that blank could include: geographic location, history, your family, this habitat. . . Have your kids do this every day during the trip.  Older kids can do more than write a caption, perhaps they do a paragraph, or a page - you decide.  Younger kids might dictate what they'd like to say in words to you too.

Method #2 Photographic:
This method works virtually the same way as Method #1, except instead of a sketchbook, you provide a camera (disposables are easy to obtain these days).  Then, your child/children take a number of photos each day (you determine this number, based on age) that chronicle what they have learned (in addition to the fun "what I did today" photos.  The idea is that they take photos that don't need a lot of description, but at the end of the day have each child choose one photo to journal about in much the same way as described in method #1.

Method #3 The Young Blogger:
If your kids are old enough, go over internet safety with them and then set them up with their own blog.  Let your  teen/teens pretend to be travel journalists.  Each day they need to journal or review something from the day.  If the exercise is simply to keep them writing, they could review anything from the hotel you stayed in, to a vista point you visited - even the restrooms at the rest stop are fair game.  If you visited a location you specifically want him/her/them to write about, specify what they are reviewing.  If you prefer journaling to reviewing, provide relevant writing prompts in much the same way as discussed in Method #1.  Your children can write their blog entries and then you can go over those entries before they are published upon returning home.  (FYI: Some blogging programs allow you to keep posts "private" and never publish them for the larger public, Blogger is one of these.  You can also have them publish to your Facebook account and choose family and close friends as their audience)

Method #4 The Young Vlogger:
This one works the same way as the young blogger except instead of "journaling" with written words, they are journaling into a video camera.  Again, you can do some editing and reviewing at home before anything actually gets published.

You can even mix it up and have them do a little of each method if you wish.  Whatever you do, have fun with it, congratulate their work, and make sure to add lots of photos that are "just for fun" and talk about fun family memories too when you finalize the work back home.

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