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The Road Trip Truck Tally Game
"Mommy, I see a tanker!" Heath calls from his car seat as he points and waves to the truck.
"Look! There's a car transporter, too!" Adelaide adds.
From the moment he was big enough to see out his car window, Heath has been fascinated by vehicles. When we bought his first truck book, his big sister learned the names of all the rigs on the road and began helping him identify them. They've been searching for trucks together ever since.
"I need more stickers, please!" Heath calls.
I hear the rustling of paper in the backseat as I point out the road construction signs ahead and both of my children squeal with excitement.
"Maybe we'll see some diggers and dumpers, Heath! They're your faaavorite!" Adelaide yells.
Heath claps and looks out his window expectantly. I'm once again relieved that they're entertaining themselves. The trip to my parents' house takes a little over an hour, but it feels much longer with two energetic preschoolers in tow. Since we started keeping track of trucks and recording the results with stickers, the trip seems to go a lot faster.
We created our first Truck Tally sheet by dividing a standard size sheet of paper into fourths and labeling each section for a different type of vehicle. We started with our family favorites -- dump trucks, big rigs, tankers, and car transporters. We happened to have some truck stickers, which worked well as labels, but we've also resorted to drawing our own pictures, which are almost as cute and just as effective at helping nonreaders identify the appropriate boxes.
When we hit the road, I give each of my children a Truck Tally page and a sheet of small, chart-size stickers. They add a sticker to the page each time they see a truck that matches their chart.
After the kids had some practice with this activity, we expanded our Tally Sheets to include more vehicles. We also experimented with different types of charts and graphs for recording. We discovered that graph paper is helpful because it is easier to compare the results when the stickers are lined up neatly in boxes.
When we hit a barren stretch of highway, the kids usually stop to count their stickers and discuss the results. If I want to extend the learning, I ask a few questions like, "Did you see more diggers or dump trucks?" or, "How many car transporters have you seen today?" More importantly, my kids are too busy to ask questions like, "How much longer?" and, "Are we there yet?"
Now, when we head over the river and through the woods, my kids are almost as excited about the journey as they are about the destination.