Learning from Travel
I still have the journal I kept in second grade when my family traveled to California. Travel provides hundreds of learning opportunities each day. Instead of assigning students homework on material they hadn't yet been taught, I put together a travel packet and kept copies ready to hand out when I was informed that a student would be away from class traveling. It saved me a lot of stress and the final product was something hopefully kids will keep for 50 years!
Cover page. This might have an attractive artistic border to be colored and should have a title ("My Trip to California"), the date, and the name of the student.
General information. On the first interior page, write some or all of the following:
- Date the trip started.
- Date the trip ended.
- People who traveled with me.
- People we visited.
- Places we stayed (hotels, houses of relatives/friends, campgrounds, motels)
- Types of transportation we used (boat, bus, train, airplane, taxi, bicycle, motorcycle, motor home, car, hiking)
Preparing for the trip. List what you need to pack.
Itinerary. Make a chart with days, dates, and places you plan to be during the trip. Include one or more addresses and leave them with someone at home so you can get mail.
Maps. Find a world map, United States map, and/or state maps to take with you. Find places you will be going on the map. Draw your planned route, using one color to show airplane travel and another color to show land travel. Highlight the names of the places you will be visiting.
Road map. Get a road map that shows the state or city you will visit. With mom and dad's help, keep track of your route on the map as you travel.
Research. Use an encyclopedia or almanac to look up information on one or more cities you will visit. Then look up the same information for your city or a city near you and make comparisons. Which city is larger? How many more people live in one than the other?
- Name of place (city and state)
- Land area
- Population density
- Average temperature this time of year
- Annual rainfall
- Sights to see or things the place is known for
Tourist information. Visit a travel agent and get brochures and information on some place you plan to visit. Keep these in a folder and answer the following questions.
- List three sights to see
- Name, address and phone number of the travel agency.
Background research. Find and read an encyclopedia article, book or magazine article about one place you will visit. Write down three things you learned and include bibliographic information (author, title, etc.).
Mileage chart. Find a mileage chart of major cities in the United States if it's a U.S. trip. You can find one in a road atlas. How far is it from a city nearest you to the nearest destination city? How far is it from _____ to _____? Is it farther from _____ to _____ or from _____ to _____?
Foreign travel. If your travel is to another country, find the following information:
- Name of country
- Population Density
- Language spoken
- Money (bring back a small bill and a coin if possible)
- How to say "Hello"
- How to say "Thank you"
- How to say "Goodbye"
- Drawing or picture of flag
- Reading the plane/train ticket.
- Find where it shows the day and date of departure.
- What time will you depart and on what flight?
- Find where it shows the day and date of arrival.
- What time will you arrive and on what flight?
- How many hours with the flight take, start to finish?
- Is this a round trip ticket? One way ticket?
- What are the airport code letters?
Time zones map. Find out why there are time differences. If it is 10:00 here, what time will it be at your destination? Add one hour for every zone heading west and remember to check if daylight saving applies.
List books read on the trip. Take along some recreational reading for those times you have to wait. Make a brief list including author, title, number of pages and how you liked the book.
Photographs. Take photographs and keep a written record of what or who is in each photo. It's easy to forget these details, especially if it's a long trip.
Comparative shopping. Before you leave, find the prices for the following items at your local supermarket and gas station. When you're on the trip, find the prices in another city. In which city do you think it would be more expensive to live?
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 1 dozen eggs
- 1 loaf bread
- 1 Coca-Cola
- 1 gallon of gas
Postcard. Buy a postcard, write it, address it and mail it to someone at home. How much does a postcard stamp cost?
Scrapbook. Collect things to put in a scrapbook when you get home. Keep them in a manila envelope until you have a chance to organize them. Here are some examples of what can be included:
- Newspaper articles
- Travel brochures
- Business cards of people you meet
- Pressed flowers
- Bus schedules
Money. List ten things you bought on the trip and what they cost. These might be souvenirs. Which was the most expensive? The least expensive? Which was the best value? Which do you like best? least?
Daily Log. Write a little information for each day of the trip. This doesn't have to be in sentence form, just something to jog your memory.
- Date and day of week
- People we saw or met
- Places we visited (museums, etc.)
- Something I learned
- Food we ate
- Place we slept
- What I liked best or worst about the day
Treasure Hunts. This activity is for while you're traveling. Make up a treasure hunt and try to find everything on it. For example, find as many kinds of leaves as you can. Take a list of states and mark each off when you see a license plate from that state. Find as many different road signs as you can, etc.
Newspaper. Get a local newspaper to look at and bring back with you. Look for the following information, or anything else you want:
- Name of the paper, date and price.
- Front page headline.
- High and low temperature for the day, hours of daylight
- Find a classified ad.
- Find the headline of a local news article.
- Telephone directory. Get a telephone directory of a place you'll visit. Find the following information:
- What is the address and phone number of a police station?
- What is the address and phone number of a hospital?
- How many elementary schools are there?
- Find the name and phone number of a taxi company.
- Is there anyone else in the phone book with your name?
Interview someone who lives at the place you visit.
- Person's name and date of interview.
- How long have you lived here?
- Did you move here from somewhere else? If so, why did you move?
- Do you like living here?
- What do you like best about this place?
- What do you like least?
- What is the weather usually like?
Observation. Find a place to sit quietly for 15 minutes. List all the sounds you can hear. Afterwards, put a little star by the sounds you wouldn't normally hear at home.
Looking forward / looking back. Write a paragraph about your thoughts as you look forward to the trip. How do you feel about the trip? What do you expect will happen? What do you most look forward to? After the trip, write your thoughts. What did you like best/least about the trip. What was different than you expected? What do you wish you'd done differently, if anything? What could you do to make a trip like this in the future go even more smoothly?
Writing. Write a one-page account about one of your experiences, the funniest, most exciting, most terrible, most frightening thing or anything else.
Art. Draw something unusual you saw or an experience you had.
Science. Collect rocks, plants, flowers, leaves, or anything else that interests you. Organize your collection.
Thank you letter. Write a thank you note to someone you stayed with or someone who was good to you. Tell them things like how you enjoyed seeing them, what happened since you saw them, and what you liked best about the trip. Finish by saying something nice like you hope to see them again soon.
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