The November and December holidays are upon us. Many parents bring their children to a trip, either as a reward or as an opportunity to unwind. Does this mean that learning stops since it is the holidays?
At RG Channel, we believe that there should be continuous learning. The holidays can be an opportunity to improve your child’s English. But it should be done in a fun way so that it does not become ‘homework’. This is a great chance to get your children to write a travel journal during their trip overseas; this activity will help your children write better and have the chance to reflect on their experiences while travelling.
Before the Journey: Preparation for Writing
Before we go to overseas, we need to prepare some items for your child’s travel journal. Here are some points to take note off:
- Buy a hardcover notebook. It can be lined or blank. It should be at least A5 in size, but preferably A4. This is because you have to stick travel memorabilia (like menus, tickets etc) inside. Make sure it is durable because it is going to take some abuse while your travel.
- Bring a couple of good pens, maybe of different colours. If you intend for some drawing, bring a small set of colour pencils for your child. You should also bring a small pair of scissors and a short plastic ruler. Remember to pack your scissors in a check-in bag or it will not make it through the airport security checks.
- Buy a good quality glue stick. You can get the liquid glue, but remember you cannot bring liquids on your carry-on bags when you are flying.
- Staple a clasp envelope to the inside of the back cover of the journal. This is where you can insert all the memorabilia you find until you can get your children to start pasting and writing.
- Most importantly, tell your children your expectations about the travel journal. There is no need to tell them that this is to help them with their English, just tell them that it is keep track of all the fun they have. Get them to agree to this project.
During the Journey: Here is the English Writing!
While you are travelling, you should remind your children to do these things:
- Collect the memorabilia: brochures, ticket stubs, maps, business cards and other paper items that will add visual appeal and help them to remember their trip. Get them to ask permission if it is not clear that you can take them. If you do not want these clutter, take a photograph of them instead.
- Take photos. You should allow your children to use a cheap digital camera to take photographs. You can also give your children a polaroid camera so that they can get the photographs immediately. But remind they not to be so obsessed with taking photos only. Remind them to use their other senses like smell and hearing to take in the experience.
- At the end of each day, or at the start of the next day, take 15-30 minutes to allow your children to write their travel journals. Guide them along by asking them questions of what they saw, smell, hear, touch and taste (the five senses – the building blocks of descriptive writing). Also, ask them to reflect inwardly, think of their feelings and their thoughts of what they have experienced. Check their English and suggest improvements if needed. The journal should not be a chronological record of their journey but a reflection of what they have learnt. If you have the relevant memorabilia and photos, glue them now. Or leave a space so that they can be filled out later.
After the Journey: Reflection
After they reach home, these are some of the things they can do:
- Complete the journal by gluing whatever photos or memorabilia that were not glued.
- Write a final reflection of what they have learnt during the entire trip. This is like a summary of all their experiences they encountered during the trip. Again, this is a time to help with their English.
- Look back at the travel journal together and enjoy the memories!
We hope that you have enjoyed our blog on travel journals. We believe that this is a great way to improve one’s English. A final note, while you can do the same on Instagram or Facebook, the process of writing on paper, cutting the memorabilia to fit the journals creates more educational opportunities than just pressing a few buttons. Of course, you can convert all these into a blog later. That can be a project you can get your older children to do. But for the younger children, the travel journal is probably the best tool for capturing experiences and improving English.