Mar
18
2015

Exploring Thailand with Kids!

What’s the Little Passports World Edition all about? It’s more than just a monthly subscription – it’s a conversation starter for curious kids who want to learn about the world. We asked guest blogger Amanda Shaw, a writer and mom of three who writes about her kids’ adventures, to tell us how her family “travels” with Little Passports. Read on!

Our Trip to Thailand

With the day’s high temperature still well below zero here in Montreal, it’s the perfect day for some armchair travel (or, in our case, kitchen chair travel) to Thailand.

The first thing we do whenever we open an envelope from Little Passports is to spread out all of our “travel treasure” and read the letter from Sam and Sofia. It’s full of hints that help the kids find the country on the map.

Elephants and noodle dishes are our clues this time. What else do we know? Our family loves Thai food, but apparently during all those dinners slurping noodles, my daughter Zahra never made a connection that this food comes from a country called Thailand. “Thai-LAND?” Clearly we need to spend some time making sure that she’s envisioning something relatively close to the country in Asia, and not a land of dancing noodle dishes.

While Zahra locates Thailand on the map, her younger sister goes sticker-crazy. A sticker on the beloved, well-worn suitcase and another in the passport and we’re on our way to Thailand! The beautiful postcard makes it easier to turn our backs on the piles of snow outside.

There are a couple rounds of “Long live the King [of Thailand]!” and the girls make up pronunciations of the Thai letters. Then we go online to find an audio clip so we sound slightly less foolish parading around the house chanting “Long live the King!” in Thai.

We pack up the letter, the postcard, the map and the passport. We fish around in the art supply cabinet and get started on turning ourselves into Asian elephants.

The craft is easy and fun and we have all the materials on hand.


Once the masks are done, I lose them for half an hour or so while they pretend to be mommy and baby elephants, crashing their way through the Thai jungle. I take this opportunity to gather the ingredients for one of our favorite parts of Little Passports’ monthly packages — the recipes!

Once the elephants make their way back to the kitchen, I put Zahra to work slicing the mushrooms. I’m hoping that since they’re part of our culinary excursion to Thailand this cold afternoon, she’ll eat them.

We measure out all of the ingredients — wow, what a beautiful rainbow! We spend a few minutes smelling, touching and tasting. We add extra cilantro. The fish sauce gets mixed reviews.

Then, my chefs-in-training pull up a chair next to the stove and we start dumping, pouring, mixing and stirring. The kitchen starts to smell very spicy! So spicy, in fact, that I’m doubting the girls will eat the Tom Kha Gai — that is, until we add the coconut milk.

While we wait for the soup to cook, we use our Little Passports boarding pass to access the trivia and games online. By this time, the kitchen smells goooooood, and Zahra is getting really good at collecting fish to sell at a Thai market.

Just a few more minutes for the soup, so we do another of our favorite activities: figuring out where we’re going next with Little Passports. Ireland, yea!

The soup is finally ready. We warm our hands around the steaming bowls, grab some chunks of sourdough bread and cups of tea, talk about Buddhist temples and imagine ourselves walking through the hot streets of Bangkok.

All is not perfect, though. Zahra did not eat the mushrooms.

Read more from Amanda here: Raising Global Citizens in Montreal!

Click here to start your own adventure with our World Edition.

 

Amanda Shaw is mom to three spirited children and doubles as Director of Content Marketing at Webrunner Media Group. On any given day, she dons a tutu or a hard hat and wields a Swiss army knife or the mighty pen.

Mar
5
2015

Explore World Music with Preschoolers!

Last month, charter subscribers to our preschool edition, Early Explorers, received their packages and discovered a very exciting world theme: Music!

Music is a great way to engage children, whether you’re just creating a beat on the table or humming a melody. It’s also a great way to get the whole family dancing and singing together.

Let’s explore the world through music! The Early Explorers music package includes a 20-page activity booklet that introduces preschoolers to instruments around the world, and includes fun music-themed activities. They’ll also receive an 11-song “World Sing-Along” CD with catchy melodies from Putumayo Kids.

Putumayo Kids is known for finding wonderful music from around the world in a variety of languages and styles. So, not only do you get to use those vocal cords, you may learn a new word or two in the process! Here are a few examples of the songs you’ll find:

Como Vai?
Hèlio Ziskind

Brazilians know that music is a great way to meet new people, and “Como Vai?,” which means “How are you?” in Portuguese, the language spoken in Brazil, is about making new friends. Click here for lyrics.

Shàng Xué Gē
A Little Mandarin

“Shàng Xué Gē” is a song in the Chinese Mandarin language about how much fun school can be and how exciting it is to learn new things. Click here for lyrics.

Putumayo and Little Passports agree that almost everyone loves to sing, especially children. Inspire your own musical world traveler with a subscription to Early Explorers! Click here to subscribe.

Already a subscriber? Your music themed package will arrive in the third month!

About Putumayo Kids:
Celebrated children’s record label Putumayo Kids introduces children to other cultures through its best selling CD collections that entertain, educate and inspire curiosity about the world. The songs are carefully selected and feature child-friendly lyrics and rhythms. Learn more at: www.putumayokids.com

Mar
3
2015

Japan Celebrates Hina-Matsuri!

March 3rd is an exciting day for girls all over Japan—it’s Girls’ Day, or Hina-Matsuri, as it’s called in Japan.  Parents all over the country celebrate their daughters’ health, happiness and growth each year on this day by displaying traditional hina dolls and celebrating with family.

Hina-Matsuri (meaning doll festival) traces its roots back about 1,000 years to a time called the Heian Period. The festival is celebrated by displaying dolls, called hina ningyo (ningyo means doll), dressed in elaborate kimonos, like members of the ancient Imperial Court at a spring wedding. You won’t meet a Japanese family who doesn’t have some type of hina ningyo display during the month leading up to March 3rd.

Traditionally, the dolls are arranged on a seven-tiered stand which is covered in red fabric. It’s possible that a full-size tiered display can take up half the room!

The emperor and empress are always placed on the top tier, followed by three ladies of the court. That is followed by five musicians, two ministers and finally three servants. There are also tiers for food and drink at the bottom. These days, many families in Japan live in city apartments which don’t always have room for a large display. A smaller version with simply the emperor and empress is a very popular alternative.

When a baby is celebrating her very first Girls’ Day, many parents and grandparents take the opportunity to buy her first hina ningyo. Department stores and traditional doll stores set up elaborate displays before Girls’ Day. Once you buy a set, you’ll display it every year until the girls are all grown-up, so selecting the perfect set is a very important decision.

Girls help set up the displays in their homes, and families throw parties and prepare special dinners.  A traditional Japanese celebration will often include sakura-mochi, which are sticky rice cakes filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped with a pickled sakura (cherry blossom) leaf. Hishi-mochi are also served. These are diamond-shaped rice cakes which have three layers in different colors, each representing something different. Pink represents chasing evil spirits away, white is for purity and green symbolizes health. Hishi-mochi (in real or plastic form) will often be placed on one of the tiers of the hina doll display.

Girls all over Japan feel blessed and special during this festive time, and it is often spent celebrating with extended family and friends. Happy Hina-Matsuri!

 

Learn more about Japan with our World Edition! Click here to subscribe.

Make your own Easter Origami Box! Click here for instructions.

Feb
26
2015

Learn About Surfing in Australia!

How Did Australians Learn to Surf?

100 years ago, in the, summer of 1915 at Freshwater Beach, competitive swimmer Duke Kahanamoku wowed a crowd by showing them the art of wave riding. He skillfully cruised the water with a solid surfboard modelled after the one he used in his home country of Hawaii. This event officially brought surfing to Australia! Today, Duke’s board is still kept at the Freshwater Surf Club in Sydney, Australia.

After Duke’s demonstration, the news about surfing spread throughout the country. Soon the waters were filled with people wanting to give surfing a try, and it’s now a sport most commonly associated with Australia. There are several competitions annually and approximately 2.7 million Australians consider themselves recreational surfers!

Surfing comes natural to Australians since most of the population lives close to a coastline. The beach has always held a special place in their hearts.  Not to mention, the Australian coastline is where three of the world’s great bodies of water meet: the Pacific, Indian and Southern oceans!

Let’s  all grab our surfboards and head down under!

Want to know more about Australia? Learn with our World Edition

Want to know about sports in other countries? Play our free online Brazil Soccer Game

Feb
18
2015

Amy Norman on Growing up in England!

As you may have heard, Little Passports was founded by two moms back in 2009. I’m Amy Norman, and I’m one of those moms, along with my best friend and partner, Stella Ma. Both Stella and I have international backgrounds; I grew up moving every 3 years between England and the US, and Stella grew up in a Chinese-American household in the melting pot of Oakland, CA.Those experiences were important to us, and we wanted to share that curiosity about world cultures with our kids and the larger community.

That’s why I was especially excited when Little Passports launched in the UK last fall. Some of my fondest memories are of my childhood in England, and it’s a place that’s close to my heart. Let’s take a moment to walk down memory lane!

Isle of Wight

During our first year living in England, my family and I took a holiday to the Isle of Wight. Take a moment to find it on your Little Passports World Map.  Here I am, sitting in one of my favorite dresses, with my dad and younger sister. I love this photo because I am eating yummy crisps (potato chips),  the first of many items that I would learn to translate over the years.

While living in Winchester, I went to school in a uniform every day. I even had to wear a tie, which I quickly learned to tie myself at the age of 3 (even I’m still impressed by that)!  We also had a uniform for gym class including plimsolls (a specific type of sneaker) which I am wearing in the photo below.  At this school I also met my first true best friend, who I am still friends with today.

In the photo below, I am at my  Grandfather’s allotment in London.  An allotment is a plot of land given to an individual for personal gardening and growing food.  I remember running through the allotment picking blackberries.  I also remember meeting many of my Grandfather’s friends and sharing food they had all grown. They would often use this fresh food in their Sunday roast dinner.

I was just about settled into my new life in Winchester. I had the start of a proper English accent, went to a great school, loved eating crisps with my friends… and then… it was time to move to America!  Although my time there was short, the memories are everlasting!

Thank you to all you globetrotters for believing in Little Passports and sharing our passion and curiosity about world cultures. A special shout out to our customers in the UK for making the Little Passports launch there such a success.

Want to know more about the Little Passports Co-Founders? Check out the links below for an inside look:
Meet the Little Passports Co-Founders!
Amy’s English Holiday Traditions