Travel the Time Zones

What You Need:

  • Large map of the United States
  • Dark colored permanent marker
  • Gold stars
  • Clock
  • Print-out pictures or postcards of travel destinations
  • Tape or tacks

What You Do:

  1. Explain to your child that there are different time zones in the country. Talk about how the time zones exist because the sun moves over each part of the country at a different time of the day, and that's why each time zone is an hour different than the one next to it. Then help your child think of ways in which this has ever affected your family, like if a parent has ever gone away on business, a family member that lives in another part of the country, or watching a live sports event in another time zone.
  2. Help your child display a map of the United States on the wall or on a large table.
  3. Log onto or use a book to find information about the time zones, and then help your child draw a line on the map designating each time zone. (It's up to you if you want to include Alaska and Hawaii, both of which have their own time zones. If you don't add them now, you can always add them in once your child has mastered the "big four.")
  4. Invite your child to label each zone on the map: Pacific Standard (PST), Mountain Standard (MST), Central Standard (CST), and Eastern Standard (EST).
  5. Now that your map is separated by the "big four" time zones, brainstorm together about places your child would like to visit. Try to come up with family-oriented vacation spots, like Disney World, the Grand Canyon, and the White House. See who can come up with the most fun vacation idea--just be sure that you have at least one in each time zone! If you have family members that live in another time zone, you can add them on the map as well.
  6. Invite your child to stick a gold star over each vacation spot on the map until every time zone has at least one star in it.
  7. Label each place with the marker next to the star.
  8. Find a picture or postcard with a picture of each place on it and attach it next to each star so your child has a visual for each place.
  9. Ask your child questions about the time zones and have them figure out what time it is in other time zones. Questions such as, "If we arrived at the Grand Canyon right now, what time would it be?" and "If we went to the White House right now, would it be too late to go on a tour?" Invite them to ask you questions also. Have family members compete to see who can figure out the time in each time zone first, and who can stump the family with the most difficult time zone questions. Keep a clock handy, and don't be afraid to use the map!

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