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Road Trip: Ticket Time!

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See our ticket time container?

There might still be time, to get one last trip, even a short one, in before we all go back to school! On your next family road trip try this Ticket game.  It will entertain your kids with healthy treats and and inexpensive trinkets, all the while keeping the peace, promoting education and cooperation, and avoiding the dreaded question, “Are We There Yet?”

Here’s what you need:  Raffle tickets, and trinkets from the dollar store and clearance racks.  Stickers, markers, coins, from your junk drawer.  Use what you have when you can, and keep it simple and inexpensive.  Sliding puzzles, mini book lights, lengths of para-cord for knot tying, activity books, pencils, erasers, markers were some of the prizes we gathered. Healthy snacks from the grocery store, or homemade in your kitchen.  Providing healthy snack choices in the prizes avoids the need to choose something from the tempting junk food aisles in the convenience stores during gas and restroom stops. Here’s how we incorporated healthy treats into the prize bag:  homemade trail mix, fruit ropes or leathers, dried fruit, crackers, squeezable applesauce, juice boxes, and even chocolate candy or gum.  (Lesson:  Healthy snacks can be fun and enjoyable as well as good for you)

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Here’s how you prepare:  Gather your prizes.  Group like items together for the number of kids in the car.  For 3 kids, wrap up 3 sticker sheets together, 3 plastic baggies of trail mix together, and so on.  Each prize package will contain prizes for each child in the car.  Use wrapping paper, gift bags, or simply tape shut a plastic grocery bag.  You can pick a variety of ways to choose prizes:  Number the prizes in the order to be opened, identify prizes with Day 1, or On The Way Home, or just make it a free-for-all.  We did a combination of these!  Find a container suitable to collect the tickets for a drawing.  We used a lidded plastic sandwich box, but get creative as you want, but use something you already have.  

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Here’s how it works:  Decide on the amount of time each raffle ticket will represent.  We decided each ticket was worth 30 minutes.  Pass out the appropriate number of tickets each morning for the day’s planned drive. 

For example, if you plan to drive 8 hours, give each child 16 tickets. Have the kids write their names on each ticket.  Every 30 minutes yell out “ticket time”, and collect a ticket from each child into a container.  The number of total prizes will dictate how often a drawing is held.  Decide together each morning how often prizes will be drawn.    Depending on age, you can hand over the morning task of calculating number of tickets needed for each day’s driving and divvying out the number of tickets to the kids themselves.  All they need know is how many hours you plan to drive that day.  This activity alone keeps them busy for about 15 minutes when you first hit the road.  Every so often ask the kids how many tickets do they have left, and let them figure out how many more hours left to drive in the day.  The 9 year old in our car enjoyed handling the entire ticket game by the end of the trip!  (Lesson:  Math)

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 The kids take turns drawing tickets to see who will choose the surprise prize package from the bag.  Add to the entertainment time by passing around the wrapped prize to everyone in the car and make a guess as to the contents.  The ‘opener’ has the fun of choosing the wrapped prize, picking their prize first if there is a difference and distributing the prizes to the others.   Tell the kids that acts of patience and kindness, along with reading, completing a work sheet, etc. will earn them extra tickets to put into the drawing. Take advantage of the opportunity here to teach statistics by explaining the importance of getting more of their tickets into the drawing. (Lesson:  Cooperation and math)  

We also used the ‘ticket container’ to draw a name and see who was going to choose a movie to view, have a timed turn on a particular electronic, or pick the type of food they wanted for our restaurant dinner that night.  The uses for the tickets were endless, and the kids miraculously didn’t argue or whine when names were drawn from the container, as they might have if one of the adults arbitrarily chose.   The Ticket Game was a big hit with our kids, and one of the things they said they enjoyed most about the entire trip!  Turn those dreaded driving days into learning, healthy, fun days.

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