Neighbors of ours had just returned from a six-week vacation out West. They had seen the Grand Canyon, been to Yellowstone National Park, swum in the ocean, climbed sand dunes, and hiked through the Redwood National Park. Looking forward to their eight-year-old's reaction to such a trip, I asked, "How was your vacation?"
"Just fine," Jodi answered.
Eager to hear more, I asked, "Well, what did you see?"
"Lots of things, I guess," she replied with little enthusiasm.
Pursuing this further, I asked her what she liked best about the trip. Her answer was, "I don't know."
For some reason, Jodi couldn't sort things out and talk about any particular place or experience she enjoyed during the vacation.
To avoid this sense of bewilderment, there are several ways to help children remember a vacation. First, you might keep a daily journal. Besides including the events of each day, it is also interesting to record the family's reactions. For example, our daughter Carol's reaction to seeing the colorful Badlands in South Dakota was to compare them to mounds of candy. I recorded this in our journal, and now think of gumdrops ever time the Badlands are mentioned.
After the vacation, you can rewrite the notes from your daily journal and create your own vacation booklet. You might like to type the story, add some pictures from brochures, and make an attractice cover. This will probably become one of your children's favorite books and will be reread many times.
Your youngsters will also enjoy making their own vacation scrapbooks. Supply them with an empty scrapbook, some glue, and scissors, then let them find the rest. Some things they'll probably include are post cards, ticket stubs, pictures from brochures, sections of maps, and even their own personal drawings.
Working on their scrapbooks will also give the kids something interesting to do while riding in a car for long periods at a time. Working toward the goal of making an interesting scrapbook will probably keep them alert and sensitive to the various aspects of your vacation.
To let them know the vacation in theirs as much as yours, try to get them to take part more. For example, when you take pictures, ask them for ideas on the types of photos they would like. Encourage them to pose by the things they really enjoy or find interesting. You might even let them take some of the pictures. Later, as you show your pictures, the children will be eager to provide their commentary as to where a particular picture was taken and why they liked that area so well.
As a family, you can also collect some interesting materials with which to put together a display of your vacation highlights. Your kids will probably be eager to talk about the things they collected and will be proud and happy to have so much to share.