|Ah, presents. We try to encourage experience gifts, but rarely does anyone take us up on that ;)|
|Odin finds all the tiny, beautiful things wherever we go.|
|Playing dominoes with grandma: This is how Loki wants to spend every vacation. It's really about connecting with each other.|
|The boys help chop up invasive scotch broom to burn. Without things like electronic handheld distractions, kids can be useful! Plus, they really experience their surroundings.|
Some car games involve looking for letters of the alphabet on signs and license plates. We go through in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order, finding every letter. A lot of miles pass before we get through every letter in order! On our last trip we made a game of finding all the colors of the rainbow in the scenery, adding several more that we thought should be included in our search, like metallics, and brown. My seven year old loves answering math questions, so we've spent a lot of car time coming up with different math problems for him. We also play a lot of "20 questions", though we never actually keep track of how many questions get asked. My kids love counting how many taxis of each color we see on every car ride- I can never believe how excited they are to see yet another taxi ;)
|Yes, it's a long drive, but we can make it! Look out the window, talk, sing, fall asleep...|
Now, every family probably does these things sometimes, but I know a lot of kids come to expect a dvd every time they get in the car, and don't know how to handle a car trip without some Disney movie to watch. What starts out as a luxury soon becomes a need. I see car rides together as valuable time to connect with the kids, and it's so often squandered. Some important conversations happen in the car, and they will never have a chance if everyone is absorbed in a movie.
Also, don't undervalue the joy of simply staring out at the surroundings. A view of an old farm, an open landscape, a forested road, or watching a mountain getting closer: these help to build excitement about the trip, appreciation for nature, and geographical knowledge as well.
|Finding shapes in the clouds.|
Once at our destination, more often than not, there are things for kids to play with. Most likely any toys there are different than what we have at home, which in itself makes them interesting to my kids. If there are no toys, even better. As ubiquitous as toys are in our culture today, I often think of how kids played in past generations, where they might have only one doll during their entire childhood, or in other cultures even today, where the idea of marketing to children would be absurd because of extreme poverty.
|Odin learns to use a knife while camping.|
|Exploring what lives under the rocks at low tide.|
What if the weather's bad, or you're stuck for some other reason inside a motel room? I always bring a book for myself to read when I need some downtime, as well as a notebook to write in. For the kids, it's easy to bring a small stack of books, either favorites or ones they haven't read for a while, or a mix of both. Beyond books, we always find something to do, and it does not involve turning on the tv.
|Loki came up with this solo game of word making with a bag of letter tiles he found during some downtime at the cabin.|
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Vacation From Toys
4/ 5Oleh Mellow De Tray