Dadding on the Go: Travel Bingo

Magnifier-smallerAh, summertime.  Warm weather, outdoor play and…the family road trip.  Do you and your kids look forward to or do you dread long rides in the car?  Keeping your kids engaged and learning without resorting to motion-sickness-inducing distractions IS possible, and can be fun.  Whether you are taking a long trip in a car, on a train, or even in an airplane this simple activity, adapted from Boston Children’s Museum’s Beyond the Chalkboard website (www.BeyondTheChalkboard.com) helps kids practice observing, collecting data, predicting, problem solving and critical thinking, as well as literacy skills like communicating and writing. Oh, and grown-ups can play too!

You will need:

  • Blank sheets of paper (or print out game sheets by clicking here)
  • Pencils or pens

Before you leave on your awesome trip (you can do this while you’re traveling if you need to) print out several copies of the travel bingo game sheet by clicking the link above; or gather several sheets of blank paper and draw grids on them measuring 4 boxes across and 4 boxes down, kind of like a large 4 X 4 tic-tac-toe grid. Hand a grid to each child (and you should make one too), and ask them to predict the kinds of things they might see outside the window of your car, the train or the airplane while you are traveling.  Will they see people?  Garbage trucks?  Giraffes?  Aliens?  Encourage them to think of both living and non-living things, and encourage them to be creative—rather than just saying “a person,” try “a person with a blue shirt,” etc.  Each animal, person or thing that they predict they will see should go into one of the boxes of their grid. Leave any two boxes empty and put a ‘?’ in them. All other boxes (14 in total) should have something that they predicted in them. If it’s a long trip, have each player make a few additional grids. Players can repeat predicted people, animals or things on each grid; and should try to think about where in the grid they place each item. Strategy might matter…

Make sure to pack these grids, and pencils or pens, before you go! Don’t forget clean underwear, too.

While you are traveling, pull out the grids and play (sorry driver…keep those eyes on the road). Resting the paper on a book or magazine might be helpful. Players should look for the objects on their cards. When a player sees something that she predicted she would see outside the window, she should mark that square on her sheet with a pencil or pen.  The squares with a ‘?’ in them are “wild cards”: any time a player sees something that she wasn’t expecting to see, she can write that down in one of these squares. The first player to get 4 items in a row across, down or diagonally should yell out “Bingo!” (or “I’m Awesome!” or “Wheeeee!”).  Share with each other what you observed. And then, play again with the same sheets or with new ones. Oh, and happy travels!

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