Last week, Amanda started with the "Can I buy this?" "Can I go look in the gift shop?" "Can I buy something if it's only $4?" line of questioning at our very first destination on our very first day of vacation. I was thinking on the spot and I told her,
"I'm going to give you twenty dollars to buy things this week. I might choose to buy you a T-shirt or sweatshirt with my money, but this is yours, and you won't get any more, even if you spend all of this today."So, she didn't buy the $19 penguin that day. She did buy one for $7, and then she ended up buying other things later, but at the end of the week, she still had money leftover, and she knew not to ask for other stuff, or if she did, I simply had to ask if she wanted to spend her money on it.
This is not a revolutionary idea, but it was the best twenty dollars I ever spent (having them save their own allowance would be even better, but since I am sporadic at best about giving her one, this was a great option for me).
I unfortunately did not have this second idea in time for our vacation, but it was waiting for me at home when I returned. Chronicle Books sent me Smart Lab 1st Grade Challenge for review, and I honestly could not wait to share it here. This will buy you a few hours of peace on a car ride or plane trip. The retail price is $19.99, but it's available on amazon for under $14.
This would be a great activity for a car or plane trip. It is not annoyingly loud (and you can turn the sound off). The questions in the 1st grade challenge were easy for my almost-nine year old daughter, however the format of the game kept her interested and she had fun. If you had two children, you could definitely go with the younger age and the older one would enjoy playing along. They can play a two-player game by passing it back and forth. If a child can read, she can play this independently.
The questions vary from simple math (6+5 =) to questions on money and geography, and even some that I didn't know (Who was the first modern woman doctor? A. Deborah Sampson B. Eleanor Roosevelt C. Elizabeth Blackwell D. Susan B. Anthony). Here is a link to a sample page of questions.
One thing that increases the fun of it, is that after each question the display directs the child to go to a certain number within a certain section (coded by color) for the next question. For example, 57 Red. This makes the combination of 500 questions have staying power. A child is not going to go through all of these in one day and be bored. Additionally, it doesn't make it feel like they are doing a 100 question test like at school.
Yesterday I posted my reasons and few tips on Using Priceline to Book a Hotel if you are interested in saving money instead of spending it when you travel.
Find other tips for families over at Rocks in My Dryer each week at Works-for-Me-Wednesday.