Make summertime travel part of the lifetime learning landscape

Whether a big vacation or an adventure-filled stay-cation almost every family has summer travel plans that involve road trips and/or layovers. Hitting the road provides a great chance to learn about nature, geography, social studies, and so much more.

Nearly a decade ago NBC News, in a report titled, “Young Americans Shaky on Geographic Smarts,” noted that in a poll conducted after Hurricane Katrina “nearly one-third of young Americans…couldn’t locate Louisiana on a map and nearly half were unable to identify Mississippi.” The report noted similar findings with other hot spots in the news globally.

What better time to learn more about our country and the world than when traveling? Today’s creative learning tools make it easy. For example, consider mapping out some made-in-the-USA fun with State of Confusion, available as an iOS, Mac, and Android app or Windows download. Children ages 5-7 start off learning key facts about the 50 states, including state capitals, state abbreviations, state flowers, state birds, state flags, and state nicknames. Next, put together a USA puzzle—a perfect game to learn state names, the location of each state, and which states are next to each other.  Finally, test the whole family’s learning by selecting Quiz mode. Geography, memory and visual perception skills get a vigorous work-out.

Even in our e-world, pencil-and-paper learning has an important place, and workbooks are just the right size for stowing away in totes, backpacks, and luggage. Pull them out and hand them over to antsy little travelers, then watch skills grow as the miles pass. Take a state-by-state tour of the United States with Travel the Great States Deluxe Edition Activity Zone® Book for ages 8 and up. It’s packed with crosswords, games, word searches, map quizzes, codes, and more that explore the history and geography of the United States and also has pages for Canada and Mexico. It has a grand total of 57 pages of facts and activities, along with a two-page map of North America and a 5-page Answer Key. Cities, highways and national parks are some of the highlighted features. Get mom, dad, and siblings involved in  guessing answers to question such as how many letters does the Hawaiian alphabet have and where were ice cream cones first served?

Kids 8 and up can also expand vocabulary, plus knowledge of geography and history with Word Search People & Places Activity Zone® Book. They will learn and reinforce new words with word searches, critical thinking questions, and other activities. Handy reference maps help strengthen world geography and map-reading skills, and easy-to-read descriptions introduce third and fourth graders to intriguing places, remarkable people, and fascinating animals.  A convenient glossary provides definitions of the new vocabulary words that appear in the word lists.

Going camping? The 32-page Word Search Challenges Activitiy ZonBook, again, for ages 8 and up, is filled with interesting topics, amazing facts, and vivid illustrations that make working with words more fun. Take bugs, for example. Find 18 bug names in the word puzzle, then read the information box about bug body parts and label them on a drawing. Next up? Learn about firefly luminescence and get some good, gross-out trivia about the Goliath beetle that grows to four inches. And that’s just two pages! These engaging word searches will become a favorite traveling companion.

As the miles roll by this summer, kids can open an app or turn a page to crack a window on learning that changes their landscape forever.