Go around the world with Little Passports

I love to travel. I love everything about it: the planning, the packing, the anticipation, the actual adventure; yes, I even love waiting at the airport and the actual plane trip! At last count I've been to 118 cities in 17 countries, which in my mind is not nearly enough. I think Alfie's tally is almost twice mine, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

The kids are way behind at just 4 countries (US, UK, Philippines and Ireland), but we're just not in the financial position to do much traveling right now. Our family has global roots, so we'd love to instill in them a love of travel and discovery and acceptance of a variety of cultures. For now, their global education consists of exposing them to foods, music, videos, festivals and films from different countries. We recently discovered another great addition to our set of global education tools: Little Passports.

Little Passports is a monthly subscription service that follows the adventures of characters Sam and Sofia as they travel to a new country each month. Each month children get their own package in the mail containing games, toys and activities, all related to the country that Sam and Sofia are visiting. We recently received the First Month Explorer kit, which includes an introductory letter from Sam and Sofia, a "passport" activity booklet, stickers, activity sheets, and a map, all packed up in a cute cardboard suitcase. There's also a travel tag with an access code to online games and activities on Little Passport's Boarding Zone.

The First Month Explorer kit rocks, especially the map! We have atlases and travel books in our library, but this is the first foldout map that the kids have owned. I'm kicking myself -- putting a map up on the wall really should have been the first step, and I'm grateful to Little Passports for including it. We're already having a lot of fun identifying countries that we have personal connections to ("Here's where your nana lives", "Here's where your Aunty Lyn works", "This is how far we flew when we went to Dublin last year").

The map also serves as a reference for the activity sheets included in the Explorer kit (which, to my disappointment, did not match the quality of all the other things included -- they are just plain photocopied black-and-white papers instead of colored printed sheets like the rest). The Pea quickly commandeered the activity sheets for herself and wasted no time in filling them out. She really enjoyed decoding the country that Sam and Sofia are traveling to next month. It's a great way to teach her to read maps and keep her mind sharp, just as school is ending. We can't wait for Sam and Sofia to mail us next month's package!

At $10.95 per month, Little Passports is a bit more pricey than a magazine subscription. But since there are no contracts, you can stop your subscription at any time, and keep it going for as long or short as your child's interest holds. It's the perfect way to keep kids educated and entertained this summer -- and beyond.

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