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Project Based Learning Idea: Plan a Road Trip

Project based learning is a fantastic way to expose students to real world problems and activities.  It engages them in learning skills and problem solving in a way that traditional class activities don’t.  It teachers them so much more than academics.  You will have your students begging for more!  These project based learning ideas for middle school and elementary students are just what you need to get started.

project basedlearning ideas for middle school plan a road trip

Who doesn’t love an epic road trip?  Road trips are filled with memories and fun, adventure and excitement.  But planning a road trip is anything  but easy.  There are so many amazing math, reading, writing, map reading and problem solving skills involved in a road trip that it is the perfect task for project based learning.

Plan a Road Trip

plan a road trip pbl project

This project based learning activity will have your students planning a road trip from start to finish.  Students can work independently or in small groups as they work through this PBL project. Although working in small groups can sometimes be more difficult, it also gives students opportunities to develop communication skills and inter-personal problem solving skills.

A great way to introduce this project is to show kids a variety of print or video commercials for vacation destinations.  Show pictures from a personal road trip that you’ve taken.  You can even ask your students to talk about road trips they have taken with their families.  Once the class is excited about the topic, it’s time to let them get busy.

road trip project based learning PBL project

This Plan a Road Trip PBL Project has everything you need to get you class started.  Just choose which of the activities your students will complete and provide them with the planning and project pages for those activities.  You can do all of the activities or choose the ones that best meet your learning objectives.

This resource includes 15 planning activities and 3 final projects – more than enough for a great PBL unit.  You can choose to have the students complete one final activity at the end, or weave them into the project so they ultimately complete all three projects. Here’s what you will find inside!

1. Choose a Destination

choosing a road trip destination project pbl

Students will begin by choosing 4 possible destinations for their road trip.  After doing some research on each location they will narrow down their decision to their final destination.  Let your students determine whether they will visit one place, make a loop from start to finish in order to see multiple locations, or whether to travel near or far.  It’s all part of the learning process.  For older students a great way to add a new level of complexity to the project is to give them an overall road trip budget.

After students choose their destination, you could add in project #1, Mapping the Route.  This would be a great place to have students create a visual map of the road trip complete with labeled states and destinations.  Some great geography practice for sure!

2. Preparing for the Road Trip

Choosing the destination is just the start!  Students will then work on planning their road trip.  In this planning phase they will be working on activities like:

  • what to pack
  • where to stay
  • sights to see
  • distance that will be traveled
  • gas costs

and so much more!  As they plan each of these areas, there is an element of research involved.  Research involves real world reading and students will practice reading for specific information, understanding general concepts and applying what they read.  Additionally, students will be using lots of math skills as they work on time, money, multiplication and division and more!  Students will be documenting their research and decisions in the project packet which will get them writing too.  As you can see there is no academic skill loss in this project!

During this part of the project is the perfect time to assign project #2 – The Destination Brochure.  Here students will take their research for one of the locations or attractions and create an advertising brochure.

plan a road trip project based learning ideas for middle school and elementary school

3. The Road Trip

Since we can’t actually send our students on the road trip, they will have to do some pretending here.  But this pretending should be based on what they learned and what they know from previous experiences.  I don’t know about you but that sounds a lot like inferencing and visualizing to me.  Two important skills that students will be using as they write about the sights they saw and memories from their road trip.  Students love the creative aspect of this stage of the project because it allows them to do a little dreaming.

plan a road trip pbl project for middle school and elementary school

Students will document their amazing road trip by creating their own road trip selfies, music play list and more.  They will send postcards to their friends from one or more locations and they can even design a billboard for one of the tourist attractions they visit.

4. Remembering the Virtual Road Trip

Once back home from their virtual road trip students will spend some time reminiscing!  They will love writing about their favorite places and activities along the way.  This is the perfect place for project #3 – An Amazing Destination.  This persuasive writing activity has students write about their road trip or one destination in an attempt to get others to visit it too!

Finish up with your very own Travel TV Show where students present their road trips to the class.  A fun way to end is to let students vote on where they want to go next based on their classmates presentations!

make a tv show final pbl project presentation

If you need more ideas on how to use project based learning in your classroom, check out this blog post filled with ideas.

Ready to get started?  Grab your complete Road Trip PBL Project today!

Are you a parent or family getting ready to go on an actual road trip? Check out this great list of 30 Road Trip Trivia Games by!

road trip project based learning PBL project

Are you looking for a way to incorporate more technology?  Maybe you teach in a 1:1 classroom?  The Plan a Road Trip PBL Project is digital too!  You receive the same great activities, the only difference is that students will complete each activity digitally.  Perfect for assigning through Google Classroom or other online learning platform.  A great activity for technology class too!

digital project based learning activity plan a road trip

If you are not quite ready for this fun and engaging project, then pin it to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can find it quickly when you are ready!  Don’t spend hours getting lost on the Pinterest and search rabbit trail.  I may or may not be speaking from experience.  🙂


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Amy Hughes

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I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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