The boys in The Amazing Race mode (with Puccini).

It should come as no great surprise to find that we love The Amazing Race. There are so many important lessons you can extract from it: not giving up, asking for directions, not fighting in stressful situations, knowing when to switch approaches.

Today the kids did their own mini-Race around Lucca as their schoolwork for the afternoon. Earlier this week we had them find the Leaning Tower from Pisa train station without a map. That was a very successful effort, and harder than it might sound as really they just had to work with the situational clues like spotting street sellers or other tourists walking in the right direction.

Today we really wanted to focus on actually navigating. Being able to read a map and navigate is a very important skill. GPS and Google Maps help immensely but they don’t, yet at least, replace being able to work your way through a map.

Jennifer created a treasure hunt through Lucca while on her morning run. We gave the boys a map each and a list of who was the leader for each section of the hunt – to avoid arguments. Then we left them to work out how to navigate round the course. We tailed along behind them to ensure they didn’t get completely lost, but we didn’t help out.

Conferring.

They did indeed get pretty comprehensively lost. Especially at a point we dubbed the Galileo vs Pope moment. They decided that a particular tower was the one the hunt asked them to find. They insisted on going round and round this tower getting frustrated that they couldn’t find a door, in spite of copious evidence that they were in the wrong place. A good lesson learnt: always look for clues to check where you are on a map, street names are an excellent starting point.

They eventually managed to answer all the questions and navigate successfully round the town to their reward of a gelato.

Of course the most important lesson from the The Amazing Race is: there’s nothing that looks sillier than having all your team dress up in the same clothing.