Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Are We There Yet?

This week I was fortunate to be able to join a Jag Rally for a couple of days with my husband. As we drove along the winding mountain roads I remembered all the games we use to play with the kids in the car to keep them occupied to stop the duldrums and chorus of "Are we there yet?"

We began our journey as dawn broke over the charming farming community around Bredbo in southern NSW. Rose, lavender and powder blue hues mingled amongst the almost luminescent white mist that hugged the valley floor as the dawning sun embraced the mountains beyond. It was a truely spectacular start to the day. The scenery continued to surprise and delight me with every twist and turn as the day evolved, there was no way I was in any hurry to "get anywhere yet." I savoured every moment especially as we meandered along the winding roads of the high country in the Snowy Mountains that we had never driven along before. With barely a tree in sight it seemed like you could see forever across rugged rocky outcrops and hilltops. Eventually we made our way down into the rainforest where the scenes changed dramatically with tall green eucalypts stretching to the sky surrounded by a thick underbrush of ferns. There was always so much to observe and take in I could never be bored, but then I love driving in the country, not like kids who can't sit still for more than two minutes at a time.

 A game of I Spy obviously comes to mind, but this could be a tad difficult when the countryside is rather sparse. It's surprising what you can find though both inside and outside of the car.

A second great game based on knowing the alphabet is Last Letter where someone selects a category, food, songs, bands, countries etc, they then start by naming that place or thing. The next person has to say the next word starting with the last letter of the first word. eg: bannana, apple, eggplant, tangarine etc.

Another option for an alphabet game is Countries where you simply have to name countries in order from A to Z. When you get to the end you can start all over again as there are numerous countries starting with most letter of the alphabet. eg, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark etc. Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, Dominican Republic etc.

Once you have practiced using the alphabet it's then time to start with some reading! Find the Alphabet is a great opportunity to have a bit of fun. Players look for each letter in order outside of the car.

Car Alphabet has each person scanning the number plates of passing vehicles for the first letter of the number plate. The idea is to start at A and make your way to Z. Take it in turns, say three cars at a time each before passing to the next person.

Name Game uses the first letter of a number plate as well. When a car goes past, try and be the first player to call out a name that starts with the same letter as the first letter on the number plate.

Bored with number plates? Ok, lets move on to signs, street signs, advertisements, cars, businesses anywhere you see words written along the roadside. Match the Word is a game where you must complete the alphabet by finding words on signs, staring with a word beginning with A, call out the letter and a word, eg A Albatross, then work your way through to Z.

A game where you can have a great deal of fun using your imagination is Rhyme Time. When you come across a sign, read it out loud and make a rhyme. eg South Creek "Be there in a week".

Thinking of using your imagination a great game that can keep the kids amused for ages ia Continuous Story. Each person is given one minute at a time to tell a story about anything at all, but it must continue from the one before. The story can change in all sorts of directions as each person takes another turn. One person, (who doesn't get car sick) might like to write it down.

The key to any of these games is to keep it simple, have fun, and enjoy! Never take car games too seriuosly and remember to take a break and let the kids run around and burn off some steam!

A recorded story to listen to in the car when parents need a break is always a good idea. There are so many on the market these days but another great idea is to get the kids to record their favourtie stories before they leave on the road trip. They'll love listening to themselves (or you for younger ones) telling the story. For a great story even the most reluctant reader will love to read over and over and always get lots of laughs go to www.gingerbread-aliens.com and purchase a copy. Don't forget to supply head phones so you can have some quiet time!

One last option, the kids can always try their hand at writng poetry. On the road there is always plenty to inspire. Below is a link to a copy of my poem titled The Road Trip for added motivation. With the school holidays almost upon us once again, if you are planning a road trip I hope some of these tips help. Enjoy. :)


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