Lesson of the Day: ‘How I Spent My Pandemic Year in a Camper Van’

Note to our audience:

Thanks to feedback from teachers, this school year we hope to publish occasional Lessons of the Day that are more streamlined and accessible than usual. They will draw on Times features that are highly visual, include a printable PDF version as well as a vocabulary section, and be written so that a wider variety of learners can use them on their own.

Here is our first one. Have a look and tell us what you think.


Featured Piece: “How I Spent My Pandemic Year in a Camper Van

In this lesson, you will learn about a New York Times reporter who converted a minivan into his home during the pandemic, then visited 39 states. After you click through, you will come up with your own travel plans.

1. Have you ever taken a memorable road trip? Where did you go, and what made the trip interesting or special?

2. Watch the seven-second video below from the featured piece. What do you notice? What do you think the video shows?

Here are 10 words you’ll find in this article that you may not know:

1. convert 2. glimpse 3. elaborate 4. opt 5. assortment 6. simplicity
7. recreation 8. occasional 9. rely 10. frequent

Which words are you familiar with? Which words are new to you?

Use this list of words and their definitions on Vocabulary.com to learn what each word means and to practice using it.

Read the piece (online or as a printable PDF). Then answer the following questions.

1. The article’s title is “How I Spent My Year in a Camper Van.” Can you write a similar title for your own pandemic year? “How I Spent My Pandemic Year in _________.”

2. How did the author turn his S.U.V. into a camper van?

3. What supplies does the author keep in his camper van? If you traveled around in a camper van, what other supplies would you want to bring?

4. How is the author able to do his work as a reporter while living in a camper van?

5. Would you want to be a travel editor and travel around in a camper van? Why, or why not?

Option 1: Create your own article about a trip you took, even if it was just in your hometown or around your neighborhood, like the author did. Choose a few photographs (the article has six), and for each, write one to three sentences about the trip.

Option 2: Imagine your own road trip. Where would you want to travel? Whom would you want to visit, or what would you want to see? Create an itinerary — a planned route — of where you would go and when. It might look like this:

My Trip to Pennsylvania

Day 1: I will drive from Boston to Pittsburgh.

I will stay in the Allegheny National Forest.

Day 2: I will visit the city of Pittsburgh.

I will go to The Andy Warhol Museum.

I will hike on Mount Washington.

I will eat pirogies for dinner.


Learn more about Lesson of the Day here and find all of our daily lessons in this column.

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