My parents encouraged us to read the road map for them when we were on vacation.
My mother, who loves history and English, would quiz us on how to spell the names of rivers, cities, states and other landmarks. Yes, we visited every Civil War battleground and antebellum mansion in the southeast.
Trips took longer because we stopped to read every historical marker she saw in time to ask my dad to stop the car! We did pass a few. If we had stopped at every marker, our trips would have taken weeks.
My engineer/scientist/inventor father would show us how to compute driving time to the next destination. Or he would ask how many miles to the next Tennessee Valley Authority engineering project—yes, we toured all of those, too. One year we frequently stopped by the roadside to take pictures of rare wildflowers. [Disclaimer: don’t pick them! My dad was commissioned to take pictures for a book and was allowed to pick one sample to submit to the scientist who was looking for new species, but that was it.]
All of those experiences made long boring driving trips fun. It took two days of driving time to reach the grandparents’ homes. My siblings and I didn’t realize how much our parents were teaching us along the way. Even though we went to public school, we were partially homeschooled–so to speak.
Besides using a United States map, an excellent way to memorize the names of the states is with CDs. One that comes to is the States and Capital Songs Kit from Audio Memory.
Oh! Don’t forget to point out the wildlife along the roadside, particularly the kangaroos! If we were too quiet in the back, my father would tell us he thought he saw a kangaroo. No, we weren’t in Australia. He was stationed there in World War II and loved kangaroos and koala bears. It was a family joke.