Summer-time vacation road trips are a family tradition. It is a great time for families to share, bond and enjoy togetherness.
Children often have a hard time to conceptualize time, distance, and location since they have little frame of reference to judge. Using a smart device, such as a smartphone or tablet, can help your child learn to comprehend these important concepts by using the technology to interact and create a visual frame of reference. Turning “Are we there yet?” into a positive experience by having them navigate and plan the trip through using your smartphone or tablet device.
You are could be doing the first step already. Parents use the “pass back effect” 85% of the time during car travel, according to the Sesame Workshops, Joan Ganz Cooney Center report “Learning: Is there an app for that?” 2010 report. You are just going to take it a step further by making sure that your child has all the resources and skills before you hit the road.
Below are some suggestions for apps to download to get started. Start with the planning process and download the free app—uPackingList. All apps are available in the iOS iTunes and Android Google Play stores and free unless indicated (warning some apps will contain advertising):
- Maps and Navigations:
- Google Maps
- Scout GPS Navigation & Meet Up
- Greatest Drive
- GPSnote—Add, edit and delete notes on a map
- Waze— Crowdsourced best routes to take to avoid accidents and roadwork
- While on the Road:
- GasBuddy.com (Free) -GPS Gas Station Finder
- Find Your Car with AR: Augmented Car Finder(iOS only) and MyCar Locator (Andriod, Free) – Find car lost or stolen
- Parker (free)-find prefect parking space
- Weather Channel – Weather locator (Free)
- SweetSpot – List of Bakeries, ice cream shops and candy stores
- Foodspotting – Find what your craving
- OpenTable – Make reservations
- Yelp – Find reviews on most anything you need in a city
- LunchBox – Finds what is Trendy in a city
- GrubHub – pickup and delivery restaurants-300 cities
- Things To Do:
- Wifi Finder – Reduce data usage find free and paid WiFi spots
- EveryTrail – plot your trip, photos and videos right on the map in the mobile app and upload to share later
- Wikitude – Augmented Reality Browser—see places, points of interest and other exciting AR content through your camera’s field vision
- Postagram – personal postcards, where pictures can be uploaded, greeting typed, and Postagram will print and send through the mail for charge (US .99 cents and International $1.99)
- Photo synth – panorama picture creator app
- AroundMe – Allows you to find information about your surroundings
- SwimGuide – find and search beaches close to you and learn the water conditions
- Roadside America – (iOS, $2.99) 10, 000 venues that are a little off the beaten track that include historical monuments, parks, and sports arenas.
Suggested Activities for using the apps:
Look at this experience as you are the pilot and your child is the co-pilot/navigator. Spend time with your child before taking off downloading the apps, learning how to use the apps, and creating a non- digital Trip Notebook. Or invest, $2.99 in Trip Journal (iOS/Android) an app that track, record, and document the trip. It is ideal for you to pre-plan your trip with your child by using UPackingList, Google Maps, Scout GPS, Greatest Drive, etc… saving you searches before leaving. It is important to have your child know how to the technology works before starting to reduce frustration on the road.
The very moment you hear “Are we there yet?” is the perfect time to turn the tables and start asking them the questions! Say, I don’t know but here is the phone/tablet why don’t you look it up. And start the flow of questions on your end. Ask them to look up and see where u are at? How many miles per hour you are going? What is the weather going to be like in the next hour, 2 hours, etc…? Where to get the cheapest gas and how far? They will be producing lots of information, so have them put that in the trip notebook.
Hungary kids are grumpy kids, kids can use apps like Grubhub, Sweetspot, and Foodspotting to help find places to eat along the route. In town, have them look for the ideal location to park. Use Wikitude-Augmented Reality (AR) directory of apps, to find historical locations, restaurants, and other attractions. In many Many older cities have AR Apps, PhillyHistoryAR (Andriod, Free) is a block by block of what Philly looked like 100 years ago. AR apps can be found for museums and historical landmarks as well.
Are these activities helping my child learn? Besides the benefit of you them being able to understand the relationships between distances, time, and location, they are learning core literacy skills of reading non-fiction, geography, history, math, technology, and science. This activity helps build the 21st Century skills of communications, critical thinking, curiosity, and spatial reasoning while developing digital literacy skills. Remember, try to ask questions that are going to peak your child’s interest.
These apps are tools to provide your child with a real-world/project-based learning environment while having fun and take the parent/child interaction to a new level. Have a safe and enjoyable trip!