This post is the second in a two-part series on making travel notebooks. The first post explained the structure of the notebook and its first two sections.
The first two sections of the notebook helped the girls stay occupied while riding in the car. These next two sections have more to do with recording the activities of the trip.
The Things We Did
The third section was simply fifteen to twenty pages of lined notebook paper on which the girls were to list the various places we stopped and to write journal-type entries expressing their thoughts and feelings and recording activities in which they engaged during the trip. One daughter, for example, made the following entries on the first day:
Dec. 17—Saw a skunk at North Carolina welcome center. It walked right in front of the car!
Saw Spanish moss growing on trees along highway in South Carolina.
Saw Atlantic Ocean for the first time at 3:25 p.m.
My wife and I made no attempt to dictate what types of things the girls should include in their journals. They wrote what was of interest to them. Some of them even drew pictures of things they saw.
The Trip in Pictures
The last section of the notebook was titled “The Trip in Pictures.” Along the way, we were alert to good subjects to photograph. When the trip was over, the girls gathered around excitedly as we went through the myriad photos from our trip.
“Oh, I remember that!”
“Hey, do you remember what happened when we . . .”
“I want to use that one of me digging in the sand.”
We had taken more than enough shots of everything, so there was no bickering over who got to use which photos. The problem was narrowing the number to what would best fit into their notebooks.
As we traveled, the girls also gathered an impressive collection of pamphlets, postcards, and informational material about the geography and history of various sites. They organized those and inserted them into the front and back pockets of the notebooks.
The notebook idea was without question the most effective tool we’ve found to ease tensions on long trips and teach geography at the same time. A few years later, when we were preparing for another long trip, the girls were sorely disappointed to learn that I thought they were too old for travel notebooks. Popular demand, however, forced me to make four copies of “Summer in Pennsylvania and New York: The Peterson Family Vacation.” Even now, years after that trip, the girls pull out their notebooks, look at the pictures, and talk about what they learned. It might work for your children too.
Make Your Own
Here are a few suggestions for making your own travel notebooks.
- Involve your children in planning and making the notebooks.
- Preview each section with the children after the notebook is assembled so they’ll know what they are to do.
- Set a good example by completing your own notebook as they do theirs.
- Call attention to sights along the way.
- Encourage neatness and pride in accomplishment.
- Provide sufficient time for them to complete their work in the notebooks.
- Take a lot of photos from which they can choose the most meaningful to include in their notebooks.
- Praise their work in the presence of others.
Our travel notebooks made our trip one of the most memorable we’ve taken. Even if the children do forget some aspects of the trip over time, they can always refresh their memories by digging out their notebooks and perusing them again.
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Dennis was a writer of secondary heritage studies materials at BJU Press for a number of years. Before that, he taught history in Christian schools and homeschooled his four daughters along with his wife, so he understands both forms of education.
How does your family remember trips?