Playing games together can help your family survive many a road trip, but when you've played the same games one too many times, you might be ready for a new distraction. A little bit of technology helps to get rid of boredom and offer your children creative ways of looking at the journey as part of the vacation itself. Tuck some of these gadgets into your survival bag to improve the mood in the back seat.
Write a Story
A tablet device makes a flexible platform for creative expression. Your child can write a story about the sights she sees on the road and use the tablet's pressure-sensitive stylus to draw pictures illustrating the tale she tells. For an interesting twist on "What I Did on My Vacation," suggest that your child create a narrative designed to tell your dog, cat or other pets about the creatures she sees as you pass by farms and stables, the shapes of clouds over the highway and the signs along the roadside. For other diversions, load the tablet with age-suitable movies she can watch.
Listen & Read
Packing a media player brings an entire library into the family car. E-books and audio books can match up well with readers of all levels, especially if you choose formats with ages in mind or include both forms of titles that you want to be accessible to more than one child. To encourage reading skills, ask your child to read aloud to you on the way. Interactive titles that combine book and game in one can offer skills refreshers in math, vocabulary and other summer boosters that help offset the out-of-school summer brain drain. Add a second level of entertainment value with a musical playlist chosen to favor your child's tastes.
Looking through the lens of a digital camera can help your child travel without complaint while on long stretches of highway. A model with optical stabilization adjusts its lens position to help offset bouncy roads' effects on focus. Armed with a zoom lens, your child can take a close look at interesting sights and capture details that strike her, creating a visual record of the trip. In conjunction with a tablet device, your child can edit photos while you're on the road.
For even greater potential entertainment value, offer her your digital camcorder. A pocket model handles moisture, falls and dust without flinching, thanks to its action-sports capabilities. Some palm-held models include viewfinders that rotate to accommodate right- or left-handed users and vertical or horizontal scenes. Include plenty of memory cards to accommodate all the stills and footage.
A tablet device or smartphone can show your child the route from where you started to where you're going. You can make static maps on your home computer showing the way you'll travel. If you've predetermined where you'll stop for the night on a multi-day drive, you can add those locations to the map. With a live 4G/LTE connection, your child can look up the places you pass and find out the origins of quirky names for towns, geographic features and landmarks.
Photo Credits: Heidi Monner/Demand Media
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