Planning A Vacation
Imagine you are planning a two-week family vacation to China. Search the newspaper travel section for travel packages and airline rates. Check the business section for currency exchange rates. Contact travel agencies for additional information. Select places to visit (cities, landmarks, cultural events, nature preserves, etc.). Determine the total trip cost, including food, lodging and travel to, from and within China. Make a scrapbook including pictures and descriptions of places you’d like to visit. Write a journal entry or postcard describing one day of your trip.

Planning An Adventure
With the help of a parent or other family member, have students plan a three-week-long journey to a remote area where there are no modern conveniences (plumbing facilities, refrigeration, grocery/supply stores, housing/hotels, etc.). Have students select the season in which they plan to visit the area, then make a list of items (food, gear, and personal supplies) that will be necessary for their journey. Have students share their list of “essentials.” How do these compare to what Great American II is taking?

Family Ceremonies & Traditions
Families are a place where ceremonies, traditions and superstitions often play an important role. Have students discuss with their families what traditions they follow and why. Are the traditions based in religion? Are they based on “what they have always done?” What is the purpose of the ceremonies, traditions, and superstitions that students’ families observe? What would happen, or how would it feel, if they did not observe these traditions?

Environmental Survey
Help students develop an environmental survey to use with their parents and other family members. As a class project, collectively develop statements about local environmental issues that can be responded to in a Likert scale, ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Have students collect, analyze (in the form of histograms, bar graphs or circle graphs), and report the survey data collected from their families. Have students include recommendations from parents about ways to improve and protect the environment.

Defining “Home”
Have students work with their parents to determine what information they would want to share with other peoples to create an understanding of what makes the students’ country “home.

Family Turning Points
Have students interview their parents, grandparents and/or other family members to find out about turning points in their family history. What did they learn from these turning points that helped them to make future decisions? Did they move ahead in different directions or ways? Why or why not?

Route Mapping
With their parents’ help, have students examine a map that they have used to go on a vacation or to visit a friend or relative, then plan several different routes that could take them to the same place. Discuss and record the advantages and disadvantages of each route, then ask parents to discuss why they chose to follow a certain route. Invite students to share their family discussion and map with the class.

Decisions, Decisions
In an earlier voyage on Great American II, Rich Wilson was awed by the connectedness of the ocean’s action. “Every salty wave from San Francisco to Boston was connected to the next, and to every harbor, beach and river he passed.” To demonstrate the concept of interconnectedness, have students talk with their families about how events, actions, and decisions that occur within the family can have an effect on other family members. How can students’ own decisions affect their families and others who care for them? Invite students to share their family discussion.

Family Challenges
Have students interview their parents, grandparents, or other adult family members to find out about the daily challenges they face. These could be health, economy, work or family-related. How do they overcome these challenges? Are cooperation, tolerance, commitment, and perseverance a part of their solutions to problems?

Earthquake Safety
Lead a discussion on earthquake safety. Inform students about proper actions to take in the event of an earthquake, such as taking cover under a desk, table, or doorway. Have students discuss with family members how they could make their home safer before an earthquake occurs. Have them conduct an earthquake hazard hunt in their home, then make any changes (such as moving or fastening down heavy objects that could fall during an earthquake) that the family decides are appropriate.