Pick a place — it doesn’t matter where — to learn about and explore virtually. A national park works just as well as an exotic foreign location. Learn about the flora and fauna, the language (or the accent), the kinds of sights a traveler would see, the foods available (from fast food to regional specialties) or what the animals eat; Read books, listen to music, find movies, explore on line and talk to people who have been to the place you choose. You may find that you have as much fun as the kids.
Gear Activities to Age and Interest
Depending on the destination you choose, you can craft history lessons, explore geologic formations, make costumes, celebrate special holidays, cook meals, paint pictures, practice some foreign words, learn bird songs, watch native animals or participate in a whole host of other activities that seem appropriate. Make a flag, banner or poster for every country you visit from your armchair. Younger children might be happy just looking at pictures and reading stories, while older elementary age kids will want to sample some new foods, learn about the cities or “hike the trails.”
Because the internet has made our world so small, you have vast resources to explore: Travel blogs, YouTube videos, music that you can download, Google Earth for a birds eye view and, of course, movies of every type from cartoons to classics. Watch puffins and ospreys in their natural habitats via live cams along the coast of Maine, turn on a “shark cam” along the coast of North Carolina, go “on safari” to Africa, or travel to see polar bears or penguins. You and your children will be entranced.
Because this is the centennial year of the National Park Service, 2016 is a perfect year to travel this nation’s natural wonders virtually. You’ll find lots of information and interactive materials. Download the Activity Book and your children will have an opportunity to become Centennial Junior Rangers. If you live close to any National Park, be sure to take an actual trip and well as traveling virtually!
Take summer field trips to your local cultural centers or museums to view art or artifacts; shop an ethnic grocery store for ingredients to prepare an authentic meal, take an excursion to a travel agency to get some information about your “armchair destination.”
Study up beforehand if you plan to take a real road trip. Or, enlist the kids to start planning a “real” vacation to someplace they would enjoy during “break week.” If you’re not accustomed to traveling with children, search for helpful advice.