Road trip? Try travel games to teach creativity, patience

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    Parents Taking Children On Trip In Open Top Car
    Old-fashioned car games on road trips are opportunities to teach kids about patience and being in the moment.

    Most smartphone users check their phones at least once an hour, and 22 percent of those ages 18 to 29 check their phones every few minutes, according to a 2015 Gallup poll.

    Recently, a local movie theater toyed with the idea of offering text-friendly theaters for people who can’t wait until the end of a movie to text friends or look up something online.

    Our ability to go for any stretch of time without a tech distraction is about as short as, say, the battery life of an old “brick” mobile phone. In other words … wait, my phone just pinged.

    Seriously, fighting fits of boredom and learning to be in the present are important developmental milestones. Learning to push through the need for a hit of stimulation is an important mental exercise.

    Long summer road trips can provide such “resistance training” for the brain. Yes, it’s tempting to plug kids in to a movie on the Interstate 10 on-ramp, switch DVDs around Quartzsite and roll into San Diego without hearing a peep from the backseat.

    But sprinkling in some old-fashioned car games on the long drive can help children develop important boredom-fighting skills.

    Ideally, kids will learn to make up their own car games. To get them started, here are some learning games to try on your next long car ride:

    Letters and words: Starting with A, find something outside the car that starts with each letter of the alphabet (good luck with X!).

    Geography: One person names a city and the next person uses the ending letter as the starting letter of another city.

    History: One person names someone famous. The next person names a historical figure whose first name starts with the first letter of the famous person’s last name. Example: George Washington, William Shakespeare.

    Art: Play classical music and ask kids to imagine scenes (hippos dancing in tutus, soldiers marching up a hill) consistent with the sounds.

    Science: If it’s raining, play “raindrop races.” Have each child pick a drop of rain on the window and then see whose drop makes it down to the bottom of the window first.

    Storytelling: You have hours with a captive audience. Now’s the time to tell the story about how Uncle Mike got stuck in the doggy door or how he got into a fistfight with a donkey.

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