Summer is here at last! For many American families, that means it’s time to hit the road. Planning a trip can seem like a burden, but with a little creativity you can turn it into a fun activity that introduces practical math skills to your children along the way. Here are three of our favorites:
Every map features a key that tells you how many miles an inch represents. Trace roads using string or a shoelace, then measure. Say, for example, each inch represents 10 miles. For younger kids, you can count how many miles there are between point A and B using addition: three inches is 10 + 10 + 10. For older or more advanced students, use multiplication. Once you have a total distance, there’s a lot of planning and problem solving you can do.
Are We There Yet?
Make time for fun pit stops! Planning for adequate snack breaks and sightseeing makes traveling fun, but it does take time. An hour or less can be the difference between open roads and rush hour traffic. Determine distances to and from off-highway destinations, and compare that to local speed limits to get a better idea. Kids can also problem solve to help figure out what time is best to leave in order to arrive on time.
Fill ‘Er Up
Keep your trip under budget by calculating roughly how much gas you’ll need (and researching where to fill up!). Say your tank holds 300 miles worth of gas in a 16 gallon tank that costs $40 to fill at $2.50 per gallon. How much do you save by stopping on the state line, where gas is $2.25 per gallon? Challenge your child to determine the best way to problem solve—multiplication, division, or a combined approach? Use local gas station trackers online to find the best deal in the towns where you stop.
If the kids become restless on the drive, you can always revert back to one of our favorite traveling games. There’s nothing like a little distraction and competition to pass the time!