Writing Activities for Kids on Road Trips

If you’ve taken any long journeys with your children, then you know that when planning what to pack, the car games and activities are every bit as important as that extra pair of sneakers or rain gear. Boredom can set in within minutes of pulling out of the driveway, so having appropriate road trip activities planned out will help keep everyone occupied and engaged from the start.

While license plate bingo and “I Spy” are always great standbys, there are ways to keep your backseat travelers occupied that can build important educational skills. In particular, this post will focus on five car trip activities for kids that can improve their proficiency and enjoyment of writing. (Note: for children who are sensitive to motion sickness, any of the below activities can be completed just as successfully during rest stops or at your destination as they can while riding in the vehicle.)

  1. Travel reviews

    Opinion writing is one of the ideal ways to get even the most reluctant writer engaged. Children often feel that they aren’t heard or that their ideas aren’t valid. Giving them the opportunity to share their opinions in writing can release a wave of self-confidence and get them excited about putting their thoughts on paper. A review is an abbreviated type of persuasive essay, which allows students to practice skills like using descriptive language.

    After you’ve visited a specific historic site, restaurant, park, or town, have your student write a basic review of the destination. Remind them that the most helpful reviews usually include:

    • a general rating (such as 1-5 stars)
    • facts that first-time visitors would need to know (such as hours of operation and where to park)
    • top reasons to visit (or NOT to visit)
    • details that make the destination unique
    • helpful tips that would make other visitors enjoy the experience more
  2. Create a new car game

    Sure, there are plenty of games that have been passed down through the generations to keep families occupied on car rides, but that doesn’t mean that the world isn’t ready for something more than “20 Questions.” Creating a game from scratch involves ingenuity, critical thinking, and cause-and-effect rationale. It can also be a wonderfully collaborative activity that siblings can hash out and build on each other’s ideas.

    Once your child has their game structure in mind, it’s time to write the rules for all future generations who will play the game on their own vacations. Writing a step-by-step explanation of instructions teaches crucial skills such as using transitions and writing for the reader. Does your student need to go back and make changes to their game once they’ve started writing the rules? Remind them that revision is one of the key steps of the writing process!

  3. Travel journaling

    One of the simplest and best road trip ideas is to provide your child with a journal to document their vacation experiences in. Children of all ages love receiving a new notebook or bound journal, so make it even more special by wrapping it and presenting it to them as you first embark on your journey.

    Journaling requires students to not only think about their experiences more deeply, but to organize their thoughts and even put their feelings into words. The part that students will most appreciate about journaling is that there are no “rules.” Proper grammar and complete paragraphs aren’t the point of journals. Instead, a journal instills the welcome habit of daily writing and reminds young writers that the simple act of scribbling their thoughts and feelings is empowering.

  4. Collaborative story writing

    As if writing a story isn’t already fun, this twist adds a whole new level of enjoyment to the activity! This idea is perfect for road tripping because it keeps multiple passengers engaged at the same time. Narrative writing increases skills in organization, development, and conclusion creation. The general steps for a collaborative story-writing session are:

    1. discussing and deciding on the initial plot of the story
    2. having one person write the hook that grabs the reader’s attention
    3. having another person write the first part of the story
    4. having another person write the second part of the story
    5. having another person write the conclusion to the story

    Of course, if you only have two people participating, you can simply take turns with the steps. Having more than one person involved in writing a story can lead to some hilarious results, so be prepared for an unconventional story that takes multiple unexpected paths to its conclusion!

    [button url=”/elementary-school/elementary-narrative-writing/” class=”primary” bg=”” hover_bg=”” size=”0px” color=”” radius=”0px” width=”0px” height=”0px” target=”_blank”] Narrative Writing Course for Elementary Students [/button]

  5. Create your own road signs

    Even the youngest writers in the car can take part in this fun-filled activity. You’ll pass hundreds of different road signs on any given car trip.  Early elementary students are often quite curious about what each one represents, so lead into this activity by sharing the rules behind some of the unusual signs that you pass. Then, it’s time to give your young passengers a level of importance by asking them to think up a new road sign that they would create if they were in charge of signage along the highways. Not only should they draw their sign, but they should use complete sentences to explain the rules behind their new sign.

When it’s time to pack the car for that next family road trip or vacation, it’s reassuring to know that you have a way to fill those hours with activities that will not just keep your children occupied, but will also help prepare them for the writing demands of the upcoming school year. Time4Writing wishes you safe travels and happy writing this summer!