Little Passports World Edition Review

Little Passports World Edition Review

Little Passports review pin

This page contains affiliate links. Explorer Momma was given a free 3-month membership to Little Passports for review. I only recommend things I find value in and would use for my own family.

Even though I’m not currently teaching, as a certified French and Social Studies teacher I am always looking for activities that promote learning. What will inspire, encourage, or motivate my child and others to explore? What can we do to pique their curiosity? I’ve chosen to do a Little Passports review because this is a program that can plant a seed. The seed is the joy in learning about geography, cultural diversity, and the idea of educational travel. With care, this seed will hopefully grow and bloom. 

I’ve been interested in the Little Passports company in the past, and we just recently received the first shipment of the World Edition. I’m writing this review having received a free 3-month subscription from the program as an affiliate. However, I want you to know I only write about ideas and products on my blog I use and enjoy. You will not see a negative review from me because I’m not going to write about something I wouldn’t use for my own family.

Little Passports is a delightful program sure to excite your kids about geography and travel, and from what I’ve seen so far, I highly recommend it.

Do you remember the excitement of getting something in the mail as a child? You might have received Valentine card from Grandma, a postcard from your uncle’s travels, even some stickers advertising a magazine. For me, these were fairly rare occurrences so when they came I treasured them. Now imagine your child getting their own package in the mail with their name on it once a month. Oh, the joy! Anticipation! For my daughter, the excitement of getting something fun in the mail is almost as important as the actual contents.

Need more ideas to get kids excited about learning?

10 Tips to Get Kids Excited About Learning

What’s included in the first shipment of Little Passports, World Edition

Little Passports close-up

Introductory letter from Sam and Sofia

Sam introduces himself and his good friend Sofia. This first letter sets the stage for their travel and adventures around the world. Of course, he promises future communications as they visit different countries.

Picture postcard showing Sam and Sofia

The postcard shows our friendly duo in Sam’s aunt’s garage. They’re sitting on the magic scooter they found with a GPS that can take them anywhere in the world. Imagine the possibilities!

Activity sheets

My 8-year-old daughter really enjoyed the activity sheets especially the one that teaches kids to say hello in languages from all over the world. We actually had to practice them all out loud and talked about where we might use them. Hopefully, the future pages will be just as educational and entertaining.

Travel suitcase

The suitcase in the first shipment is a fun idea. Who doesn’t love old pictures of suitcases and trunks with travel stickers all over them? The only problem is that now my 4-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter are arguing over who the suitcase belongs to, so we may have to get another one! 

Each month, you can store the items you receive from Sam and Sofia in your suitcase. In addition, they’ve promised to send more stickers and luggage tags to put on the outside. There’s  a place on the inside for the child’s name and a working clasp to open and close it.

World map

A world map is a great part of the package, and my son immediately declared he needed to put it up in his room. Moreover, the map is not just anywhere, but on the wall by his bed so he can plan his adventures. Most of these expeditions center around Australia, Tasmania, and Antarctica lately. I admit I’m a proud momma because at 4 it’s amazing to me how many places he can point out and actually knows what they are.

Also, stickers have been promised in future mailings to put on your map to track where Sam and Sofia have been.

Personal passport

The world traveler passport is a fun addition to the package. In it, kids can attach their photo on the page with their name and address just like a real passport. There are places for country stamps, of course. Also included are fun questions to encourage discussion about travel with parents. By the same token, kids even have a place to plan their future travels and think about why they want to go to each country.

Stickers of Sam and Sofia

As I mentioned, there are stickers to go on your suitcase, and we are told of more for the passport and suitcase from each country.

Boarding pass to attach to your suitcase with passwords to on-line games and activities

We haven’t gotten around to trying out the on-line games and activities yet, but they are included as a part of the package. On the boarding pass you attach to the suitcase there’s a website and codes to get in.

Parent guide

The parent guide lists out the items in the first shipment and describes some of what to expect in the future packages.

What do I think?

I think this is a fabulous program with the right amount of mystery to keep kids wanting more. My daughter cannot wait for the Brazil package to come and has been asking about it every couple of days since her suitcase arrived. This is something you can get out of it what you put in. It takes some time and attention to complete the activities and read through everything.

I also like the fact it encourages parents to get involved and talk to their kids about their travel experiences. You will need to interact with your kids and help them with certain aspects of the program, but they are free to imagine all the fun places they want to visit in the future.

A membership to Little Passports makes a wonderful gift

If you are looking for a gift for a child I highly recommend Little Passports. You can order the World or U.S. versions, and there’s even a science program. The child receiving the gift will get their initial program package and then monthly thereafter get another installment. The World program will evidently be mailings from the different places Sam and Sofia visit.

This program includes some of my favorite things. It gets kids excited about learning, inspires them to study geography, and cultivates an interest in travel and cultural diversity. Consequently,  one would hope it also sparks a curiosity that will develop into an appreciation and understanding of their part in the world, it’s people, and our beautiful differences.

April Fool’s Day Pranks: A Fishy Tradition

April Fool’s Day Pranks: A Fishy Tradition

Pin: April Fool's Day pranks

This April Fool’s Day pranks post contains affiliate links.

Oh, the memories of April Fool’s Day pranks! As a kid I usually didn’t try anything too terrible. However, I do remember one year when I put a rubber band around the water sprayer on the sink. Then, whenever you turned on the water it would spray you. Let’s just say my mother was not thrilled with this, and much screaming ensued. In fact, I remember thinking how ingenious I was to come up with something like that and just could not understand why she was so upset!

April Fool’s Day Pranks, the Fishy Way

The past few years we’ve celebrated April Fool’s Day the French way, with paper fish. I love France and celebrating cultural holiday traditions, and quite awhile ago I took some classes in France then taught high school French. Therefore, it was natural I should introduce my own kids to Poisson d’Avril (or April Fish). Kids absolutely LOVE this tradition, and of course, the French claim to have started April Fool’s Day. So here we go, let’s learn about French culture so you too can celebrate April Fool’s Day with your kids as Poisson d’Avril.

Les Poissons

What is Poisson d’Avril?

Poisson d’Avril is what the French call April first, or April Fool’s Day. In fact, they celebrate by playing jokes on others just like American April Fool’s Day pranks. However, the day is called Poisson d’Avril, so kids and adults alike make paper fish. Then, throughout the day they try to stick them to other people’s backs without them knowing. I know it sounds fairly basic, but kids find it hilarious and don’t tire of it throughout the day (sometimes the entire week)!

History

The French often claim all things started in France, and April Fool’s Day is no exception. Supposedly, it all goes back to 1564 when King Charles XIV moved the calendar around and made the beginning of the year January instead of late March. Well, people resist mandated changes and some continued to celebrate the New Year in the last week of March. Those who continued to celebrate the old New Year had pranks played on them, and for some reason people started to stick paper fish on their backs. Consequently, these victims were called the April Fish (Poisson d’Avril). Why fish? Did it start with fishermen? Who knows, but the tradition stuck, and hey, why not go with it?

Sandbox fish

Create your own Poisson d’Avril paper fish

Here’s how to begin this super-fun, incroyable, tradition at your house. First, sign in below to download your free printable fish paper. While the fish are in color, I like to print it out in black and white so the kids can color the fish themselves. Second, give each child a page to color and cut out. Third, provide the tape and encourage fish sticking on friends’ and family members’ backs. Then let the shenanigans unfold!

April Fool's Day fish printable

Do you need some more activities for kids to get you through to summer?

Try a few of the 7 Awesome Activities to Beat the Winter Blues.

My own experience with Poisson d’Avril

Everyone loves April Fool’s Day pranks, and I love most anything that keeps my kids busy and makes them laugh and enjoy themselves. Oddly enough, I get lots of hugs on April Fool’s Day as the children try to sweetly stick fish on my back. Then, they go away snickering behind their hands until they can hold it in no longer and scream, “Mommy! You have a fish on your back! Hahahaha!”. Queue hysterical laughter.

Similarly, high schoolers can really get into this holiday. I think of when I taught high school French, and I liked to celebrate as many French fêtes as possible. Poisson d’Avril was always a hit. Inevitably, if you give a 16-year-old boy crayons, scissors, and a fish outline on a piece of paper he will become an excited little boy again. No matter how cool and disinterested he is in your class he will take the bait! As a result, you can get all sorts of participation in your French speaking activities about fish. AND as an added bonus everyone leaves laughing and with a paper fish stuck to their back. It’s a ton of fun to watch the hilarity spread around the school.

April Fool’s Day pranks at French bakeries

Okay, so maybe it’s not really a prank, but it’s a lot of fun! If you are lucky enough to live near a French bakery, on April first they generally have French pastries and chocolates all in the shape of, you guessed it, fish. Unfortunately, I don’t live by a French bakery (long sigh), so generally after watching pastry week on The Great British Bake-Off or some such, I over-confidently attempt an elaborate fish pie or little pasties. I’ve managed to make them taste pretty good, but usually they look more like a blob than a fish. Moral of the story – find yourself a glorious French bakery and get yourself some fish pastries!

Lumpy Fish pies

Fish cookies

Cookie cutter

Chocolate fish

Yes, please!

Toy fish

Let’s play!

Fish journal

I love this

Why? Do we really need a reason? Well, because it’s hilarious! Kids will love Poisson d’Avril and some new April Fool’s Day pranks.  Also, as a bonus, everyone’s learning to appreciate the French culture while having fun. Please share your pictures and stories of your fish on Dad’s back or any other successes you have with the activity. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below! Have fun and bonne chance!

What other pranks do you play for kids on April Fool’s Day?

10 Tips to Get Kids Excited About Learning

10 Tips to Get Kids Excited About Learning

This post contains affiliate links.

TIP #1: Provide healthy food choices at home, and involve your kids in food preparation.

Get kids excited about learning nutrition. This is a win-win for kids and parents alike! How can you get kids to get excited to learn nutrition and make smart eating choices?

First of all, consistently make healthy foods at home for meals and provide healthy snack options around the house.

Secondly, get your kids involved as much as possible in the meal preparation so they know what is actually going into the food that they eat, and it becomes familiar. If they’ve never eaten or seen a mango why would they choose to eat it anywhere else?

Last but not least, and this is the tough one, you will need to purge your kitchen cupboards of all those unhealthy snack choices. I know if I have the choice between a chocolate chip cookie and an apple, I would probably grab the cookie and run. Rather, make the easy grab and go snack option a healthy fruit, veggie, or a whole grain avoiding processed foods and sugars.

Provide healthy choices at home, and your kids will learn to pay attention to what’s in their food and choose good foods on their own.

10 tips to get kids excited about learning

TIP #2: Be the biggest cheer-leader in your child’s school learning, and get involved!

Get kids excited about learning at school. YOU must get excited and involved in your kids’ learning. Talk to your child about what they’re learning in school. Then speak to them about how you used something they’re learning in a real-life situation and how it helped you. Use positive comments only like, “Those fractions will come in handy when we bake your apple cake tonight!”

NEVER say, “Oh, I always hated math! I could never get it.”

If you say you don’t like it, or a sibling, or other older influential person in your child’s life says something similar, it can do huge damage to how your child feels about the subject or idea. It’s difficult, but of huge importance to ALWAYS be as positive and encouraging as possible. Then if you want to take it to the next level, plan parties and games to complement school. Include your family and friends in these activities. Above all, be involved. Consequently, this will also highlight you as a fun, relatable parent, one your child is more likely to open up to about other things in their lives.

 Boy with a telescope by Teddy Kelly

TIP #3: Travel the world! Be open to new ideas and experiences.

Get kids excited about learning all sorts of anthropology! This is by far my favorite tip and gets huge buy-in from kids! Travel around your state, country, the world if you can. There is no teacher like experience, and no greater opportunity to see different cultures and languages and really learn history and geography than travel. Is your son interested in the American Revolution? Go to Washington D.C. and Williamsburg and learn about the events that happened in that area. Does your daughter complain about memorizing French words and not see the use of it? Go to Paris, Montreal, or Monte Carlo and let her see the signs, menus, and maps in the language. Have her order for the family in a cafe in French, and go see the local sights. If you can, visit with a local family so she can hear them interacting in the language.

Gargoyle looking over Paris

TIP #4: Create a physical location in your home to view your travels and learn geography.

Get kids excited about learning geography. Complete a wall maps project. First, buy a United States and a World map. Secondly, and involving your kids, attach the maps to cork board, make nice frames, and hang the maps up in a playroom, bedroom, study or wherever you like. Next, place a pin on your own city, and discuss the layout and meaning of maps. Define and show the continents, countries, states, cities, etc.

Then, start pinning your travels. If you go to see Grandma in Austin, Texas, put a pin there. Then let’s say you make a trip to Chicago tagging along with Dad on his business trip, put a pin there. If you go to London, Cape Town, Hong Kong, or Melbourne, pin it on the map and talk about the area. Kids LOVE this, and LOVE to see their pins all over the maps.

TIP #5: Read, read, read! Every day. Books can take you to far away places and teach nearly any subject.

Get kids excited about learning to READ. This should really come higher in the list but may seem like a no-brainer. Reading is one of the most important ways to get kids excited about learning. Of course read, but I mean read consistently. Often. Daily, In different situations. Have your kids read out loud to you, read stories at bedtime, have quiet reading time for everyone (parents included) on the weekends or during the summer when you’re home. Fascinate kids by books so they can’t put one down, and you can celebrate a win. I am currently reading a giant of a book by Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear, second in a trilogy. Let your kids see you reading books interesting to you, and make your local library a friend.

Little girl reading

TIP #6: Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti! Music makes the world go round.

Get kids excited about learning music. Study after study has shown how much music affects our learning. Chris Brewer, in his book, Music and Learning speaks of how music creates “attention, attitude, and atmosphere” for learning. It wakes us up and attracts our attention, can put us in the positive mindset for learning, and creates a certain ambiance inductive to learning. Depending on your goal you can find music to get your kids into any activity. Play some world dance rhythms to energize, classical Mozart to focus and concentrate, or watch Wakko from Animaniacs sing the states and capitals for memorization. The sky’s the limit!

Music quote-Beethoven

TIP #7: Have your child create a budget plan, using their allowance, to practice math and early financial planning skills.

Get kids excited about learning math. With your child create a basic budget plan. I love Dave Ramsey’s children’s program with give, spend, and save envelopes (see the link here for more detail on this).

First of all, plan what chores around the house your child will be able to complete. Next, decide how much each job is worth. I like to keep some chores as expected and simply your job as a part of the family like making your own bed, but it depends on the child and age. If your child earns $10 a certain week they can, for example, give $2 to church or charity, save $4 for that big toy they’re really wanting, and have $4 to spend on their class book order today. Those numbers will vary, but discuss allowance and how to save for desired items. Lastly, when they have saved up for a bigger item you can have your child count and take their own money to the store and pay themselves. Real-life experiences important to the individual are incredibly motivational for learning!

TIP #8: Go to a Mexican restaurant (or French, German, the language your child is studying) and order completely in Spanish!

Get kids excited about learning world languages. You may have a real life need for tacos or enchiladas! This happens often to me, and what an opportunity to speak Spanish and make someone’s day. This goes along with traveling but even in your own town you can make this a reality. Let’s say your child is learning Spanish. Therefore, when they get to that inevitable food unit go to a local Mexican restaurant and let them know they can eat only if they order completely in Spanish, using polite phrases and all the rest. Bonus! I can almost guarantee it will put a smile on your server’s face.

For more advanced students use the language for your conversation at the table also. Practice at home before you go and decide if they will order for you too. It’s amazing how our stomachs can make us jump out of our shells to try something new!

foodiesfeed.com_tasty-chicken-tacos-with-cheese

TIP #9: Visit museums and conduct home experiments guided by the interest of your child.

Get kids excited about learning science. When it comes to science I like to base our activities on the current interests of my children. My son declares the extinct Tasmanian Tiger is the coolest animal ever and wonders if there are some still out there hiding. Well then, if we can’t immediately mount an expedition to Madagascar, we visit our local Nature and Science museum and find similar animals. If my daughter wants to see a volcano erupt, we create that effect using vinegar, baking soda, and food coloring in our own volcano or with a kit. Let them guide you!

TIP #10: Get out and about in nature. Explore our world!

Get kids excited about learning to be outdoors. This is another tip I just love. I am a Colorado girl after all and can think of no better way to get a child excited about learning about the outdoors and their world than getting out in it. You can do this in any season and compare the differences. Go on a nature hike, in the nearest National Park or your local neighborhood park. The exercise will do them good, and then plan a snowshoe trip, ski adventure, camping expedition, or form a bird-watching club. As a result you will mould your kids into outdoor loving, camera and journal toting naturalists, or the closest you can get.

Camping by Zach Betten

Use these tips to motivate, inspire, and get kids excited about learning. Try one out today!

Brewer, Chris. Music and Learning: Seven Ways to Use Music in the Classroom. Tequesta, Florida: LifeSounds, 1995.

How to give a giant party featuring The BFG

How to give a giant party featuring The BFG

This post contains affiliate links.

Why throw a giant party featuring The BFG by Roald Dahl?

First of all, I have always loved to read and was indeed the kid who consistently kept her head in a book on the school bus and any other place we went. This love of reading and stories is passed down to my daughter, and in the second grade she’s eating up books by Dahl, C.S. Lewis, and pretty much anything she can get her hands on. Consequently, it was not surprising when she came home from school thrilled with this book The BFG.

Also, as a family we believe it is important to kindle the enthusiasm for learning in order for kids to be successful in school and the future. There are book clubs and school groups, but why not support that love at home and promote it with a giant party for friends and family?

How to throw a giant party

When would you want to have a giant party?

This kind of party can be as elaborate as you like. It works great for:

    • a birthday party,
    • a sleep-over,
    • that long weekend off from school when teachers have their professional development,
    • a creative book club,
    • Roald Dahl’s birthday (September 13)
    • whenever you want!

Download giant party printables including reflection worksheet based on The BFG, a giant party invitation, and place cards for the table including the BFG’s curious words.

Giant party printables preview

Set the scene at a Royal Breakfast

Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Palace, London

Because food is imperative to a party we set the scene at the Royal Breakfast, which is also a chapter in the book. This is when the BFG sits down with the Queen and Sophie in the Great Ballroom and first tastes foods other that “repulsant snozzcumber”! There are fabulous descriptions in this section such as the ping-pong table with four 12-foot-high grandfather clocks for legs. Once in place, a nice cloth is smoothed on this “table” for the BFG with a garden fork, spade, and a sword (last used to chop off the head of King Charles the First) for silverware.

Be creative and set up your giant’s place at the table. Your other guests and place settings can either be at the same table or another smaller one to create the effect you wish.

BFG place setting

Assign each guest a character

When you first bring up the idea of coming in character your guests will either love it or try to get out of it. It is so much more fun when each guest plays and dresses a part! Therefore, I urge you not to back down! My son loved playing the part of the butler Mr. Tibbs in his little suit. Make sure if you have a shy guest not to  put them on the spot, but do give them a smaller role.

The host can give out parts beforehand when guests RSVP, and then tell them to review their character in the book and come in costume. Possibly, for a more informal party, the host could assign them as guests arrive. It is especially important in this case to provide a props box to help the group get into character. In the box provide hats, big BFG ears (link here to great ear printable), capes, a trumpet/horn, ties, scarves, military paraphernalia, or really whatever you have around the house that could possibly work.

Here is a link to a character list with descriptions: character list. If you have a large group you can use all the giants’ names as well as the staff at the palace.

Dream Country quote

Food at the Royal Breakfast

Of course you can serve breakfast any time of day, and kids love to do things out of the ordinary.  Therefore, serve the Royal Breakfast at lunch or dinner or whenever you want! Here is what we served at our event based on the book:

BFG party menu

Be creative and serve what works for you and your party!

Possible activities for your GIANT party

  • The Royal Breakfast. Complement each place setting by putting a list of Mr. Dahl’s curious words the BFG uses, and then tell the guests to try to use them in conversation. You probably will have to initiate this and use some words yourself to get it going and break the ice.
  • Catch your own dream craft. (I love this!) First give a small jar (from your local craft store or Amazon such as these), to each guest along with a small piece of colored paper. Secondly, tell the guests to imagine the perfect dream they would like  for the BFG to give them and to write it on the paper. Then roll the paper up and put it in the jar with some glitter. Lastly, decorate with a tied ribbon, and voilà you’ve caught your own dream!

  • Try a form of charades. To start, divide your guests into groups and then assign each group a chapter of the book. Next, task them to reenact the chapter, and give them 15 minutes or so to prepare. Then, give the performances. An assigned judge or judges will select the best performance, and that team will win a fabulous prize!
  • The BFG Madlibs. This is such a fun way to practice grammar and tell stories with hilarious results.
  • Have a GIANT dance party! Play the Radio For Kids station on Pandora or other music you like and bust out some giant moves.
  • End by watching the Steven Spielberg movie The BFG if you’re having a sleepover or a longer party. I always suggest reading the book first, but view and compare this beautifully acted film version to the book.

Questions for after watching the movie The BFG

Here are some questions for after the movie for you to discuss in a book club, or you might bring them up in conversation the next morning after the slumber party:

  1. Did the movie do a good job portraying the book?
  2. Is the movie how you imagined the book to in your head?
  3. Did the director cast the right actors in the character roles?
  4. What were the differences between the book and the movie?
  5. What was your favorite part in the movie? Is it the same as your favorite part in the book, and why do you think that is?

Party Favors

Finally, if you wish to give out party favors to departing guests I believe there is no better gift than a book. Perhaps the next book you intend to feature at a book club or party?! If you have a large number of guests and a book is not in the budget, give little bags with the the theme of your next gathering and the name of book they are to read. In addition, provide any help necessary in obtaining the book from a local library or other location.

Guests will also take home the small jar with a caught dream (see the “Catch your own dream” in the activities section) as a souvenir.

I hope you enjoy this book and the GIANT party featuring the BFG as much as we did.

Have a phizz-wizzing, whoopsy-whiffling time!

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