When we travel somewhere I like my kids to have some background information about the place if possible, because it makes the experience mean a little more.
Yes, you can visit some place like the Will Rogers Memorial Museum without knowing anything about Will Rogers, but if you've read about him already you're going to recognize some of the people and places you'll see there and it's probably going to be a little more interesting.
I try to find field trips to go along with what we're already studying, but sometimes I work the other way and try to have the kids learn a little about a place because we'll be visiting it soon.
However you approach it, here are a few ideas for making your vacation an educational (but still fun!) experience:
- History: Learn about the history of the area you'll be visiting. Were there any major historical events that took place there? Many towns—even if they're pretty small—have small museums that share the history of the area and are a good way to spend an hour or so.
- Geography & Map Skills: Find your vacation spot on a map and see what you can tell about it. What states are around it? Are there mountains, deserts, rivers, etc.? Your older kids might even be able to map out a route for you. Even though GPS is easy, it's always good how to know how to use a map!
- Landmarks: Even if you're not visiting a famous place like the Statue of Liberty, you may be able to find some landmarks that are well-known for the town you're visiting. It would be fun to see how many of them you can take a family picture with while you're on your trip!
- Famous People: Famous people have to grow up somewhere, so even if you're not visiting a big city, there's a good chance that someone famous was born near your destination. Look for historical figures or someone currently famous that your kids are interested in and check out a biography at the library!
- Children's Literature: One of the simplest ways to give your kids background information on your destination is to find a good book about it. It could be a non-fiction book or a fictional story set there that gives good information in the details of the story. If you search the location in your library catalog you may be surprised at the options available.
Happy learning—and traveling!