Homeschooling on the Road

My family travels a lot.  Our greatest homeschooling challenge may be that we miss out on a lot of activities that require regular participation - gymnastics, sports, co-op schools, etc.   The flip side is that we are always experiencing new things, which easily stimulates a young mind to engage in learning.  Is there a better way to learn about history?

Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe


or get excited about reading ?

Little House in the Big Woods, Pepin WI


We recently set out on a 2-month road trip for Project Remote, to document the remotest locations of IA, MN, ND, SD, MT, and ID.  What to bring in the car to entertain a 4.5 year old for 8,000 miles?!?!   How to continue our reading, writing, and other lessons so as not to backslide?


I took an old 3-ring binder and filled it with sheet protectors.  This notebook served as a storage place for work-related materials (maps, receipts, etc.), personal materials (calendar for Sept and Oct, magazines, etc.) and educational and other materials for Skyla.  It was ingenious (if I do say so myself) and I will never go on a road trip without it now!   Here are some of the homeschool-related stuff I put in there:

  • An outlined map of the U.S. so Skyla could color in each state as we went through it — this is particularly exciting in the East, not so out west when it can take you days to get through a state.
  • Early reading books stored very nicely inside these sheet protectors.  I could keep them separate from all the other books we brought.  We are borrowing the Scotts Foreman Reading series from a friend (thanks Della!).
  • Car scavenger hunts of various kinds — color of cars bingo, things you see out your window, colors you see out your window, number of cows.  I downloaded the Flip card games from, printed out two copies of each (so someone could play with her) and put ones I thought would be good for our trip in the sheet protectors.  I brought along some colorful dry erase markers so they could be used again and again.
  • I did the same with Sight Word Search sheets available from  This website is a great resource for lots of free printables.
  • Activity books - there are many different brands of workbooks out there for kids of all ages…some kids love them, some kids not so much.  My kid loves these!  So I brought a buttload of them, and stored them in the notebook.  A wide variety of subjects is good, especially if you are going to be on the road for a long time:  Learn to Draw, Math, Reading, Writing, etc.   We particularly liked the LeapFrog and Lets Grow Smart brands.
  • Blank paper so I could encourage her to draw what she was seeing outside the window or practice writing, make birthday cards, etc.


We purchased a kid’s road atlas specifically for this trip.  If you don’t already know this, used books are the way to go - we usually get ours on Amazon, order those in ‘good’ condition or better, and have never had a problem with them being written in or damaged in a way that diminishes their use.  Anyway,  every time we passed through a state we read about that state’s history, geography, unique aspects, etc.  It was interesting to us as parents as well as to Skyla.  The one we have is DK Publishing State-by-State Atlas, which was good because of all the pictures, but there may be a better one out there that focuses on topics more interesting to kids.


We were on a mission and had places to be at certain times so we could not stop at all the wonderfully educational places we passed by (prairie dog towns, dinosaur museums, Little Town on the Prairie, Craters on the Moon National Monument).   We did take breaks though.  Even at a rest area you can wander around and learn tree species, collect leaves for an art project, kick a soccer ball, play chase.  If we saw a playground while getting off the road for gas, we would stop for a few minutes and let her swing.  This kind of down time is essential to a kid’s well being and 30 minutes goes a long way.  Since we were on this trip to document state Remote Spots, we also had major backpacking, canoeing, and hiking trips in between the long drives and that helped!

I’m pretty sure that’s it.   All in all it was an excellent road trip and no one is dreading another one — I’d say that’s a success!


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