With snow melting and flowers blooming and birds returning, Spring has sprung! If you’re anything like me, the hibernation of winter comes to an end right about now and our family suddenly has the urge to go. An essential on the packing list for my road trips – besides music, snacks, and a gigantic dose of patience – is Diane Flynn Keith’s book, Carschooling.
I don’t own one copy of this book. I own two. One stays in my car at all times; it is dog-eared and stained, with crumpled cover and crumbs permanently embedded between its pages. The other stays in my house. Why two copies? I’ll explain in a minute.
As Diane writes in her introduction, she spent countless hours in her car during her kids’ homeschool years, driving them to various classes, libraries, park days and field trips. These activities, coupled with longer road trips, translated to thousands of hours in transit – travel time that Diane turned into learning time. Carschooling is her comprehensive compilation of activities every homeschool can do to make the most of those travel hours.
The book is divided into academic subjects because, as Diane believes, “Carschooling families can cover all the subjects typically required by national curriculum standards…(pg. 6).” Some families may choose to do this – and Diane provides sample curricula to get you started – whereas others may simply use it to supplement and enrich their travel time.
After a very helpful Getting Organized chapter, Diane dives right in with unique and fun learning opportunities that appeal to all ages. In the Carschooling Math section, my family’s personal favorite is Play 21 (pg. 84). Players scan license plates to find ones whose numbers will add up to 21. We usually set a goal – the first player to find five of them wins! This is a great way to sneak in addition and, more often than not, my kids will play well after the official “game” is over.
Another favorite license plate game is Crack the License Plate Code (pg. 152). The challenge is to have kids look at license plates to find abbreviations common in texting. For example, “BTW” translates to By The Way. With tweens and pre-tweens in my car, this game is all the rage. We have the most fun with coming up with our own unique text abbreviations or, on some days, coming up with full sentences based on the letter combinations on the license plates. DW2Y6W could translate to “Do what you want” or “Danny wants your watermelon.” Giggles always ensue…and time flies.
For young and old alike, we like Silver Sculptures (pg. 222). Packing a roll of aluminum foil provides a carschool art class as kids are invited to tear and twist the foil into works of art. We often issue challenges – sculpt an animal! – and everyone sets to work on their artistic endeavor. And Rest Stop Olympics (pg. 267) is another one the kids look forward to. When stopping for bathroom breaks or gas or snacks, everyone hops out of the car and I announce the event, my phone’s stopwatch feature at the ready. “Who can do the most jumping jacks in thirty seconds?” or “Who can hop on one foot for the longest?” Getting wiggles out has never been so much fun.
So….why does my homeschool household have two copies of this book? The one in my car has been essential to have on hand for looking up impromptu activities and games while our trip is in progress. The second one – the one that sits on my bookshelf – is the one I consult for longer trips, for those days when I know we’ll be traveling for a long while, when I need the opportunity to plan and prepare and bring special items along. Both copies have been indispensable and have truly transformed our travel time into learning time.
this review first appeared on Parent At the Helm.
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