The man who created the Broadway smash, Hamilton, spent much of his boyhood alone in his head, dreaming stuff up. In an interview with GQ magazine, Lin-Manuel Miranda states, “What is the worst thing for your imagination? Your phone. Because of phones, we always have the ability to jump out of ourselves. But unless you learn how to be in your head, you’ll never learn how to create. I remember when I was a kid, I was in a three-hour car ride with my best friend, Danny. Before we got in the car, he grabbed a stick from his front yard, and the entire drive home he made up games with this…stick.Sometimes the stick was a man, sometimes a piece in a larger game, or he’d give it voices, pretend the stick was a telephone. I remember sitting there next to him with my Donkey Kong thinking, Dude, you just entertained yourself for three hours…with a twig! And I thought to myself, Wow, I have to raise my imagination game.”
So, what should you pack to keep your kids occupied on your next road trip? Skip the phones, electronics and DVDs, and have them bring some old-fashioned toys like a puppet, matchbox car, crayons, or even empty out your junk drawer and put the contents in a box that they can look through in the car (kids love discovering things found in a junk drawer). You can also hang a shoe organizer from the back of the driver’s seat. You can put items that you find around the house in each of the pockets. As they discover each item that you have placed in the shoe organizer, they will come up with their own ways to use them to play with. The object is, like Lin-Manuel Miranda says, give them this time to be in their heads and learn how to create. Don’t be quick to jump in after their chorus of “I’m bored”. Let them use their imagination to entertain themselves, away from their usual electronic comfort-zone. Give them the opportunity to work on their creative thinking. A road trip is the perfect time for it, as they won’t have their usual distractions, and they have to sit there anyway.