How to help your kids have fun with languages while traveling
By Julia Pimsleur Levine
With the arrival of Thanksgiving you may be planning a family trip by car, plane, train, or in this economy, bicycle! When you have your little ones captive during travel time, it’s a great opportunity to play language games that reinforce their budding skills. And most importantly, it is something fun to do together. By initiating these games you will be showing your child that foreign language matters to you. That will make it much more likely it will matter to them too… You don’t have to speak the language yourself to play most of these games!
Fun things to do in the car:
1) Play a game where every child gets a point for naming an object you see out the window in another language. Whoever gets the most points gets a treat at the next rest stop or on arrival. you can help out by naming objects the first time (a tree = "un arbre" or a car = "une voiture") and your kids can call them out the next time.
2) Print out the Little Pim coloring pages from our web site and have kids color them in the back seat (you’ll need crayons and a lap desk or a hard cover book to lean). Go to GAMES on the web site and print out up to 10 pictures of Little Pim to color in, with vocabulary included.
3) Play music in a foreign language and encourage your kids to sing a long
4) Bring flash cards and award prizes for the child who gets the most right, or with one child, a small treat if they can get 5 right in a row.
5) Play "I spy" in the language they are learning. Point out things in the car, in other cars, or in the scenery.
Fun stuff to do on an airplane:
1) Play with flash cards (home made or store bought)
2) Color in Little Pim coloring pages (see above)
3) Get some snacks and put them on the fold out table (i.e. peanuts, pretzels) and count them in the foreign language
4) Write a letter to a member of the family with some foreign language words included (or pictures your child draws, labeled in French/Spanish/Chinese, etc.). Make a big production of mailing it when you arrive at your destination.
Fun stuff to do on a bicycle (you thought I was kidding!):
1) Shout out all the parts of the body in the foreign language
2) Sing verses from simple foreign language songs you both know together
3) Play a made up game where each time you stop, point out an object and if your child can name it in the foreign language (i.e. bus, ice cream, car) then they get a point. When they get to 5 points they get a special treat at home!
Julia Pimsleur Levine is Founder and President of Little Pim Corporation, a company that produces language-teaching materials for young children. www.LittlePim.com.
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