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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Preparing for a big family trip

March 26, 2013

We're heading off to Germany for some apple strudel, German soccer, apple strudel, and tours of castles and salt mines (and apple strudel). This is a big adventure for our family, and we've been prepping for weeks! It's been so fun for the girls to be involved in the planning and the excitement. I thought I'd share a few of the things we've done to get ready — most of these ideas could be adapted for a trip anywhere.

  • We posted a big map on the kitchen wall. We've got push pins for our destinations, and the girls have measured the distance in kilometers and then converted that to miles.
  • We've developed Questions & Answers. As questions have come up, we write them down on strips of paper. When someone has time, they research the answer and "present" their findings. The girls have compiled some of their answers into a very flashy PowerPoint presentation.
  • We've tracked reservations and events on a handmade calendar we keep in the kitchen. It's fun to look at the days ahead with such anticipation.
  • We've learned a bit of German! Besides taking a language and culture class here in our community, we watched some Girls4Teaching German lessons. My girls liked that the "instructor" was a young girl. The overall session length was just about right for them.
  • We've tried every German restaurant in our area. This wasn't hard — there's just three. But we learned that the girls love pumpernickel bread and hate boiled cabbage.
  • We checked out a lot of books on Germany from the library. This has helped build a lot of background knowledge about the castles we'll be touring and the history of the salt mines in Salzburg.
  • We've added some apps and podcasts to our i-products. Earworms helped us learned numbers, days and time using music-based training. Currency+ helps us track the Euro-to-dollar conversion. Free podcasts from Rick Steves will help us with a walking tour.

There's still packing and to-do lists a mile long, but hopefully at least one of the ideas I shared sounds like something you'd like to try with your family. Auf Wiedersehen! (goodbye for now!)

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