Sunday, August 16, 2015

Device-Free & Interactive Family Learning On The Go!

My son self-selected a magazine to read from the basket.
The basket wears a seat belt too!
Today, I am thankful for being intentional during the 25 minute device-free commute to church. I look forward to Sunday morning car rides because my husband drives and I am able to be fully present with our kids (ages 8 and 10).  (I  must admit that I am inconsistent and that sometimes I block them out by staring at my smart phone.)  This Sunday, however, I maximized this limited amount of time that the kids are buckled in, without devices, and are yearning for something to occupy their attention.  I want to share the 3 items I constantly keep in the car to facilitate mobile learning and spark conversation (whether or not I am engaged).
Reading basket in the backseat

1.  Reading Basket

Usually, when I'm driving without my husband, I prompt the kids to choose something to read from the reading basket in the back seat. I have written about the purpose and inspiration of the reading basket here and here.  Ten, twenty, and thirty minute car rides can provide a substantial amount of uninterrupted reading time. Magazines, word searches, crossword puzzles, joke books, chapter books, and Mad Libs are excellent basket fillers and provide hours of entertainment.  Endless choices and voice in the car!

2.   Flash Cards

Multiple flash cards are stored in the passenger's
 pocket of the door
This particular morning, I used the math flash cards on the ride to and from church.  I asked the kids if they knew the purpose of my quizzing them on the facts at a rapid fire pace. They both gave good answers. I explained that I wanted them to have enough mental energy to concentrate on figuring out which operation(s) would help them efficiently solve the word problem; and not be mentally taxed with solving the basic computation. My children are going into 4th and 5th grade this year. The word problems will involve multiple steps and operations and perseverance is imperative. It is time to accelerate their computational fluency of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.  

I never really used flash cards or emphasized speed with them in the past because I wanted them to have a strong conceptual understanding of what the facts represented (number sense). Flash cards are for memorization and do not "teach" the facts. Rather, strategy-based instruction facilitates fact acquisition and number sense more efficiently than rote memorization.  With that said, I know the kids have a solid grasp of the functions of the four operations and I can use flash cards to boost their immediate recall.  

Math flash cards are not all that I pack in the car.  I also carry "Would You Rather" cards to spark humorous conversation.  I wrote about this card game here. We love laughing and giggling over the silly debate topics.

This summer I traveled across nine states with a good teacher friend and my two kids. I intentionally planned the road trip as an opportunity to boost our background knowledge.  I packed the "United States" and "Landmarks" flash cards, I found at Target, to provide short and relevant text. We sorted through the cards and found the nine states we were planning to visit.  The children orally read the cards as we entered each state and before touring each landmark. Reading in advance generated insightful questions, landmarks to discover in each state, and supported their blogging about the experience afterwards.

Reading about the Grand Canyon
before arrival
Reading about the Grand Canyon, seeing a simple photograph, and generating questions prepared us before we arrived (as mentioned in the article - The Night Before the Musuem).   We were able to look at the environment in a completely different way because we enhanced our background knowledge.  (I also share this article about using summer to boost background knowledge with parents.)

3.  Music  

I typically listen to Christian music or smooth jazz stations while I am driving.  I find the music on these stations to be uplifting, relaxing, and the lyrics are appropriate for my children. However, I still have a few educational CDs in the car I pop in occasionally. Keeping these educational lyrics in the car is an easy reminder to review academic skills in a novel manner.

These are three items that came to my mind this morning. Again, I must confess I do not use these items every single car ride.  I do not feel any family has to use these items every single time.  I do think it is important to use them to support learning after school hours, but please find an appropriate balance for your family.  Additionally, I am sure there are many other ways to facilitate interactive family learning without iPads and TV screens.  Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments below.


No comments:

Post a Comment