“...Abraham Journeyed From Thence Toward The South Country...” Genesis 20:1
Just as the birds fly south every winter, I like to pack up my clothes and travel south in the summer. After driving about four hours going south-east I can see the ocean. Travel today is much more convenient than it was in Abraham's day, but it can still be boring for children. Here are some ideas that might help pass the time. Memory Book: Use simple binder covers or folders, or scrap books to start a memory book for each person. Begin with the maps listed here. Add pages with questions that begin, "Today we went ______." and "What I liked best about today was _______." Questions can also be about what you eat, and the things you see. Create pages with questions which relate to your trip and can be kept as a memory book. You might include a few photo album pages for pictures and post cards. At the back you might want to include some pages to color or some of the Bible puzzles on the Questions page.
Are We There Yet?: Print a map that includes your starting place and your destination. Let the children mark the roads you plan to travel with highlighters. They can mark the major cities as you travel through them.
License Plate Game: Go online and print out a map of the fifty states. Children can color each state that they find on a license plate as they travel.
Counting The Cost: Print out the Balance Sheet and teach your children how to keep up with how much money they spend.
Rest Stops: Have a ball, Frisbee, or jump rope available for rest stops. Take a few moments to stretch your legs during long trips.
Travel Bingo: There are many travel bingo games available for different age groups.
Find The ABCs: Look for things that start with each letter of the alphabet, beginning with the letter A. Or, look for the letters of the alphabet, in A, B, C order, on signs.
Something New: When we made a long trip with five young children, I bought new toys for them to play with in the car, to give them "surprises" along the way.
“...Come Ye Yourselves Apart...” Mark 6:31
Jesus told the disciples, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while." On the seventh day of creation, we read that God rested. Many take time in the summer to take a vacation and "rest a while". This month, instead of the usual group meeting ideas, we are looking at vacation ideas. A Vacation Treasure Hunt is fun for children and teens and it will help everyone to become familiar with the location of places and items in a rental house. The prizes suggested are for a vacation at the beach, but you could substitute any prizes that would go along with your place of rest.
“...Treasure In Your Sacks...” Genesis 43:23
When I was growing up candy was for special occasions and holidays. Just before a trip Dad would take us to the store and we could choose any kind of candy we wanted to put in a little "goody bag". This was special to me and I kept this tradition with my children. They always enjoyed choosing candy and snacks for their "goody bags". We would often use the lunch box they had carried to school the previous year. They would eat some of the candy going there, and save some to have during their vacation. Many times I would also let them refill their bags for the trip back home. Many companies now make snack packs of crackers, cookies, and other snacks which can be very convenient for "goody bags". If you don't eat in your car, it can be special to choose a special snack when you stop to fill up with gas. We used to travel through a small town that had chocolate-dipped ice cream cones, and it became a tradition to stop and get one on the way back home. Be sure to have wet wipes available for small hands.
“The Lord Is My Shepherd...” Psalm 23:1
The 23rd Psalm can create a beautiful picture for vacation devotionals. Just imagine traveling with the Good Shepherd over the green pastures and beside the still waters. You may enjoy a 23rd Psalm Crossword Puzzle. You might want to talk about different Bible Places or work a Bible Places Crossword. When our children were small we often helped them "act-out" familiar Bible stories. They especially enjoyed the story from I Samuel 3, when God called to little Samuel while Eli slept. Older children you may enjoy some of the games on this page, and some of the Bible puzzles on the Questions page. You can print them and put in the memory book mentioned above.
“Go Ye Into All The World...” Mark 16:15
God wants us to carry the Word everywhere we go. Many of the vacation places we have visited have books and magazines in the houses. Take some gospel tracts with you and leave them as bookmarks. You never know who may pick them up and read them. You can also leave tracts on tables in restaurants and with clerks as you check out in stores. "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
“...As The Clay Is In The Potter's Hand...” Jeremiah 18:6
We recently discovered the fun of Sculpy Clay. It comes in bright colors and you can mold it into small items, then bake it. We used it at a recent youth meeting to decorate the covers of summer scrap books. Some of the creative people also made small food items to attach magnets to, and use as refrigerator magnets. Younger children might enjoy Play Dough better since the items can be larger and easier to work with. You could create a scene from a Bible story for your devotions one evening.
“...Being Knit Together In Love...” Colossians 2:2
We had a family vacation with our children and grandchildren this year and it was great to have this time together. My oldest son lives 1000 miles away with his wife and two children, aged 18 months and 3 years, and we all enjoyed spending time with them. I had been planning for the trip several months and wanted to take several things that we could do inside during the heat of the day. First we had a treasure hunt and some of the items were included as prizes in the hunt. Here are some of the ideas we used that "knit us together in love" this summer.
Koozies: I took foam koozies and foam stickers. This helped us keep track of our water bottles and soft drink cans. Meredith is almost 4 and she was able to help find the letters to spell out names for each person. In addition to the alphabet stickers, we had fish stickers, beach stickers, and Bible verse stickers. Each person could decorate a koozie to use all week.
Manicure Sets: I never seem to have enough time to polish my nails at home, but there is usually more time on vacation to pamper yourself. This year I bought manicure sets for each young lady and took bright shades of polish and nail polish remover. Meredith was so happy with her pink toe nails.
Recipes: I let my family know ahead of time that I had a recipe card box and cards for each family. They were invited to take copies of their favorite recipes with them, but we never really had time to copy them.
Paddle Ball, Beach Toys, and Card Games: We had toys for the beach for all ages. We took a little inflatable pool for the children to play at the house. It was also handy to rinse them off in when we came back from the beach. We also had games for indoors. The adults enjoyed playing Rook each night after the children went to bed.
Puzzles: Each couple found a puzzle in the treasure hunt. Danielle opened hers and started it at a small side table. With so many working on it from time to time, we completed the 1000 piece puzzle in just a few days. We were somewhat surprised that none of the pieces were missing since the little hands reached up to the table many times.
Beach Cake: We baked a cake and let Meredith decorate it like a beach cake. We crumbled graham crackers to be the sand on one side. We used blue cake coloring to make blue frosting with white caps on the waves. We had gummy candy shaped like fish, turtles, sea shells and starfish. Teddy bear grahams are cute on Fruit Stripe gum "lounge chairs" and floating in the water in peach ring gummy candies.
Beach Bags: I bought a brightly colored beach bag for each family. As they went on their treasure hunt they filled the bags with their treasures. I tried to include prizes for all ages, from picture books for the babies to Sudoku puzzle books for the older ones. I made the clues easier so the younger children could help find the treasures. For more ideas see Vacation Treasure Hunt For Children.
Photo Memory Books: Digital cameras have made it so easy to make photo memory books. I bought the small 4 x 6 photo albums and bright scrapbook paper. We printed out pages of small pictures we took during our trip then cut them apart. We glued them on 4 x 6 pieces of bright paper to place in each page. We wrote a short phrase or sentence on some of the pages, such as "We like our sun hats and sunglasses" and "Nap Time". We made one for Meredith and her little brother Christopher to take back with them to Minnesota. I also made one for Micah who is 19 months old. He was around his cousins so much for two weeks and I'm sure he doesn't understand where they went. He pointed to a picture of Meredith and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "I don't know where she is..." We do not get to spend time together like this very often and I hope the photo books will help the little ones remember their family time together.
Photo Collage: My daughter-in-law took simple 8 x 10 inch picture frames and printed a collage of photos for the frame. She hot-glued some sea shells around the edges of the frames and gave them as gifts to family members at a later time to remind all of the vacation trip together.