Whether you’re homeschooling your children or simply looking for a way to make the most out of summer break, there are lots of ways that you can make a Disney vacation into a fun and educational experience. The parks are packed with interesting little details that will really teach you something if you pay attention. The very activity of vacationing leaves ample room for educational activities as well. Try these tricks to make your Disney visit a little smarter.
1. Build a budget
It’s almost a given that the adults in the family will create a vacation budget before departure, so why not get the kids involved in the activity, too? Outline your daily food or souvenir budget and challenge the kids to find the best way to spend it. Naturally, parents retain final veto power, but you may be surprised at the creative solutions kids can come up with when presented with this type of challenge.
You could end up with a diverse sampling menu of dishes from throughout the park in place of four standard dinners at a single restaurant, or an offer to replace family sodas with free water and use the extra money to indulge in dessert. At the very least, this strategy with reinforce the concept that there’s a limited fund available for indulgences, and purchases should be made wisely.
2. Designate a map reader
Map reading is fast becoming a lost art thanks to the convenience of GPS. Teach this timeless skill to your children by designating a map reader in your party who will guide you from one attraction to the next, finding the best routes in between.
Maps are the first things you’ll come across when you enter any park so you can begin the adventure as soon as you’re through the gates. You can also order customized keepsake maps ahead of time to help you plan your vacation long before your departure.
Consider bringing along stickers or a pen so you can mark your route and highlight the attractions you’ve seen each day.
3. Schedule your day
Planning out your day involves lots of math skills, time telling, and creative time management. Work with your kids to set up a rough schedule for each day, including your FastPasses and dining reservations (both of which can and should be made in advance, at least at Walt Disney World). Fill in the open areas of your schedule with things you hope to see and do, taking into account fluctuating wait times and unpredictable down times.
Throughout the day, you can ask your little travel agents for input on what you should do next and how to best plan the day. Questions like “If the wait time is 20 minutes and the ride lasts 20 minutes, what time should we get out?” offer lots of opportunities for kids to learn. These relevant real life examples make math far more entertaining than any worksheet.