Get to Know the Little Passports Product Team!

As you may have heard, there are four new items available in the Little Passports Shop, including a science kit and a plush Toby! We would like to introduce you to two members of our Product Team, Sarah and Gabe, who work hard every day to find new and exciting products. They also design all of our wonderful subscription materials.

Read how they get inspired below!

Gabe and Sarah hard at work!

Little Passports: When working on new products, where do you look for inspiration?

Gabe: I tend to fall down rabbit holes. I’ll go to a local park and see the changing leaves, and then I’ll wonder what the leaves look like in other parts of the country and other parts of the world. Suddenly I’m back at my desk researching wildlife around the globe, which leads to an idea, which leads to an activity or project…! For me, it’s all about asking questions and seeing where your curiosity takes you. (Also, libraries, toy stores, and long walks. The perfect trifecta.)

Sam and Sofia Exploring Cornfields!

Sarah: For me, it depends on the product, but I try a lot of things. Sometimes I just start sketching, and the sketches will usually get me thinking about something. I just follow that thought and research as much as I can about the subject.

I also play different games to find inspiration. Like this game where I try really hard to find new paths for everyday walks. For example, during my morning walk from my house to the train I try to make the walk different each time. I’ll cross at a different street corner, or I’ll cut through a street I haven’t been down before. Sometimes you’re just on auto-pilot while trying to get from point a to point b, so you miss the little things around you. Trying a new path keeps me open to what’s going on around me and helps me notice different things that I can draw inspiration from.

Little Passports Shop Items

LP: How do you put yourself in the shoes of the children who will be using Little Passports’ products?

Map of Brazil from Little Passports World Edition Subscription!

G: If you looked at my desk, you’d see right away that “play” is a big priority for me. My workspace is covered with Legos and action figures, stickers, books, and maps. It’s my job to play! Even more than the toys and the trinkets, though, I love making products for children because kids are so curious and open and willing to explore. They look at the world with a special kind of wonder and excitement; everything is new and uncharted, everything is sort of glittering, just waiting to be explored. I try to keep some of that wonder in my life every day, too.

S: I agree – play! I believe that a kid’s job is to play, and that’s how they learn about their world. You learn a lot through playing, you get to use your imagination and think about things in different ways. I also try to learn something new every day. It could be a fact, or how to do something I’ve never done before. Being a kid means learning a lot of new things, and playing, so I pretty much try to do the same.

LP: Of the new products, which is your favorite and why?

G: Our Early Explorers subscription will always have a special place in my heart. It was such a joy creating our characters Max, Mia, and Toby. I think I look forward to their next adventures more than the kids do!

Souvenir Picture Book

S: Our Souvenir Picture Book! I think that it’s great to see all of the places Max, Mia, and Toby travel to, but especially fun to see all of Toby’s silly little antics. Have you ever met a puppy who was into doing Tai Chi? He’s so playful and adventurous. I also love that it’s like getting mail from a book. It includes envelopes, and kids can lift up the flap to pull out special souvenirs from Max, Mia, and Toby.

LP: Do you have any funny or crazy stories about developing new products?

G:This isn’t a story about a specific event or product launch, but I recently stumbled upon my first pencil-sketch drafts that I made during the early development of our USA Edition. When we were mapping everything out and still figuring out what the USA journals would look like, I hand-drew the layouts of all of our activity pages and created a mini “book map.” It was amazing to look at those initial drawings and compare them to the final product that kids are enjoying today. I always love seeing how products change during development, and finding those old sketches was a great example of that. (And no, I won’t be sharing those sketches with anyone; the final product is much better, I promise!)

Crafting at the Little Passports Headquarters

S: I don’t know how crazy it is, but recently the Product Team was sitting on the floor of our product room just doing little projects. We had glue sticks and scissors, and were like little kids creating things that we were super proud of. Everyone was having so much fun. I hope kids enjoy our products as much as we enjoy creating them.

LP: Thank you for sharing your creative process!

Want to check out the new products? Shop now!


Inspire Your Child to Learn About the World!

This week, early education expert Deb Chitwood shares the fun and educational ways that you can use Little Passports to get kids excited about the world and geography at an early age. Read on to see examples of her creative ideas that she uses to inspire her own granddaughter!

5 Ways to Get Your Littlest Ones Excited About the World!

Do you wonder what to do with your younger ones when your older children are having fun with their Little Passports activities? Wonder no more! I’ve tried and tested ways to include my granddaughter, Zoey, in activities for Little Passports and discovered it is doable!

I’ve been able to include Zoey in activities with both the World Edition and Early Explorers. Although Early Explorers is the easiest to adapt for younger kids, it doesn’t need to be the only edition to use with younger ages.

Whether you’re a homeschooler or simply want your little one to feel a part of the Little Passports fun, here are some ways that you can include them.

1. Give them a chance to play with the Little Passports suitcase.

I was reviewing the first Early Explorers package when my granddaughter was 12 months old. She was attracted by the bright colors and loved to carry the suitcase around. She also enjoyed opening and closing it and putting her stuffed animals in it. Those seem like simple activities, but they work on some important skills.

2. Use the Little Passports map with stuffed animals.

The size of animals will depend on the age of your kiddo and whether he or she is past the mouthing stage. My granddaughter enjoyed using Beanie Babies with the Early Explorers world map. We added the Beanie Babies to their matching place on the map, learning about where animals come from as we played.

3. Provide a road map with small vehicles.

To supplement the activities from my World Edition England kit, I printed out an England road map to use with small vehicles. That’s an activity that would not only be fun for older children but also gives them an introduction to the shape of the country. Again, choose the size of map and vehicle according to the age of your kid.

4. Prepare a special tray with any Little Passports souvenirs that are appropriate for a young child.

Often you’ll find a souvenir or activity in the Little Passports package that can be adapted for a younger child. Two of my favorite souvenirs for younger kids from the first year of the World Edition subscription are the amethyst from Brazil and stuffed Bengal tiger from India.

I recently prepared a nature tray with the amethyst that Zoey enjoyed observing.

She also had a lot of fun playing with the Bengal tiger plush. For any young child you could also include a photograph of a real animal along with their stuffed toy so they can draw a connection.

Or include a phonics activity with a sandpaper letter or other tactile letters while introducing the beginning sound of the animal’s or object’s name.

The World Sing-Along CD was a favorite from the Early Explorers Music kit. My granddaughter played our at-home rhythm instruments along with the music and did a lot of dancing to the CD.

5. Make a photo book.

This is especially good for kids who are book lovers. You can make a photo book or have one of your older children make a photo book for your younger children. Each of the countries in the World Edition has a country tour and photo pages in the online “Boarding Zone” that could be used for this project.

You could use a ring binder to prepare a photo book of laminated pages or have a tray for your older child to staple together the pages for a younger child.

The photo book with ring binder was one I found through Google, printed out, and laminated. There are many options for making photo books to go with your Little Passports packages.

Be creative in finding ways to include all your kids. Not only will it make lessons with your older children easier, but you’ll help your young ones develop a love of geography.

Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools before becoming owner of her own Montessori school. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego.

On her blog at LivingMontessoriNow.com, she writes about Montessori activities and ideas, homeschooling, and parenting. She also helps parents and teachers feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12 in her eBook, Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy (2013, Spring Snow Publications). You can connect with Deb on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and YouTube.



Raising Global Citizens in Morocco!

We love talking to moms around the world. We find it fascinating to learn about how families spend their days, and how it compares to what we have at home. Each country and culture is filled with wonderful new adventures, so when travel blogger and mom, Amanda Mouttaki reached out about her children’s adventures in Morocco, we couldn’t wait to ask her a few questions!  Hear her story below.

Little Passports: What’s it like to be an American raising kids in Morocco?

Amanda Mouttaki: It’s certainly much different than life in the US in both good and bad ways. The good thing is there’s always lots of people around to help with the kids. Morocco still has a culture that encourages kids to be kids, to get outside and play in the streets without worrying about things – there’s always someone watching! That being said I miss the creativity and individualism that was reinforced in the US. I really feel like critical thinking and creativity are missing in Moroccan schools that focus on rote memorization heavily. I do however appreciate that schools are bilingual from the beginning so my boys are trilingual.

Being an American doesn’t have a big effect on day to day life outside the house, most people are surprised to find out I actually live here and am not just visiting. They often don’t understand why I would do that!

LP: What has been your favorite place to visit in Morocco with the kiddos?

Essaouira, Morocco.

AM: We all really love the coastal city of Essaouira. It’s only a few hours drive from Marrakech, where we live. The city is really laid back and we love being by the water. Even though it’s not geographically far there’s a completely different vibe. I think for families that want to get away, relax, and have just a little bit of history and culture it’s a perfect choice.

Seville, Spain.

LP: In your blog, marocmama.com you describe yourself as a world traveler. What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited/written about?

AM: I keep having a favorite and then I go somewhere new and change my mind! I think the place that I see myself returning to again and again is Seville, Spain. I fell in love with the city 15 minutes after we arrived and couldn’t get enough. There’s a certain feel in the city and the food is amazing. It’s hard to put into words why I love it so much but I feel a connection there that I don’t often get with places.

LP: As a mom, how do you encourage your kids to learn about the world and other cultures?

AM: Travel is a huge part of our lives, as I think it tends to be with any expat family. When we aren’t traveling I try to get my kids to read (or read to them) books set in different places and with different kinds of people. We also love to cook. I’ve always tried to give my kids a wide variety of foods from all cultures, and now that they’re older they are preparing and cooking the foods themselves. Being open minded, understanding, and tolerant is a huge part of how we raise our children. My hope is that as they grow they are able to take their experiences into relationships and have a balanced world view. I can’t change the world but I can raise two kids who become adults who make the world better.

LP: Thanks for sharing!

Amanda is an American expat living in Marrakech with her husband and two boys. She writes the blog MarocMama.com and owns Marrakech Food Tours with her husband, where they show people the authentic side of Marrakechs’ food culture. You can follow their daily lives on Instagram, or check out Facebook for regular updates.



Loved this? Check out the rest of our Raising Global Citizens series below:

Raising Global Citizens in Paris!

Raising Global Citizens in Montreal!

Raising Global Citizens: A Mom on the Move!

Raising Global Citizens in Pakistan!


5 Reasons Your Preschooler Will Love Early Explorers

What’s Early Explorers all about? It’s more than just a monthly subscription – it’s a conversation starter for curious preschoolers 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 to learn more!

5 Reasons Why Early Explorers is a Hit with Preschoolers

My kids and I have been with Little Passports for a long time. We’re nearing the end of our second year, and our tattered, sticker-slapped suitcase is jam-packed with all the adventures we’ve had. All three of my kids still squeal with delight when they pull that white envelope out of the mailbox each month.

So when Early Explorers was launched last year, I was quick to mention it to my friends and family who have younger children. My own four-year-old (as with many things) was along for the ride with our World Edition subscription. Her older sister reads the letters; her older brother works out the puzzles. She does get her hands dirty with the recipes and has claimed more than one souvenir as her own.

But I was more than a little curious about the new subscription for preschoolers. What does world culture and geography look like to a three-to-five-year-old? I know my youngest absorbs a lot from Little Passports. How much more would she benefit from Early Explorers?

Now three months into our Early Explorers subscription, I can tell you that this is the perfect introduction to world culture and geography for the younger age group. I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it might be a simpler version of the World Edition with age-appropriate souvenirs. But it is literally an entirely new approach—one that meets my four-year-old on a level that not only excites her but that she can fully grasp. Light bulbs are going on, folks.

Here are my top 5 reasons why I’m so glad we decided to try Early Explorers and why a subscription might be the perfect gift for your little loved one, too.

1. Activities preschoolers own. Alright, I’m just going to come out with it—I hate activities for young children that their parents end up doing. You know what I’m talking about: the craft project that required pieces put just so, hot glue that was a hazard. Group games that are mostly instructions barked to wide-eyed preschoolers. The balance beam that’s too high off the ground, so the parent holds the child on both sides and scoots him along. Sigh. But that’s why I love Early Explorers. Each month, my daughter receives a new passport of activities to do, and she’s perfectly capable of doing them with me taking on a more observational role. In fact, she’s often capable of doing them completely on her own. How do I know? Let’s just say that one afternoon, the phone rang as she was opening her package, and when I came back, her passport was halfway completed. In Sharpie. Correctly! The activities are intuitive, often color-coded: mazes, connect-the-dots, matching, sequencing, and other ingenious activities that require little direction and yet are teeming with learning potential. She does them and gets more satisfaction out of that than she does from watching her older siblings complete a puzzle or write a paragraph.

2. A new cast of characters. With Early Explorers, we’re discovering the big, wide world with Max, Mia and Toby. Max and Mia are good friends…who somehow co-own a dog named Toby. What’s not to love about a furry friend joining in our adventures?

3. Quality support materials. The miniature landmarks in our Landmarks edition are beautiful: just the right size for little hands and durable (and by that, I mean indestructible…yep, my preschooler has put them to the test). The CD was an excellent introduction to world music that we listen to over and over (and over and over) in the car. The Flashlight Adventures booklets that have accompanied our last two packages have the ability to focus your little one’s attention on the topic at hand and give them control over the speed at which they pass from one image to another.

4. Mail. Let’s not underestimate the joy of getting something in the mail, especially at this age. My daughter was incredulous, maybe more so because the packages are just for her and not for her brother and sister. Sometimes, the little one wins.

5. World view. With Early Explorers, you’re not exploring one country each month, as you do with the World Edition. The first Early Explorers package lays out the continents and provides you with a beautiful world map to work with. As my daughter proudly proclaims to anyone who will listen, we live in North America. I could see it click in her mind as we talked about the places we’ve visited, and how we got there (by car, by plane). Each new package reinforces that concept of the continents, their geographical positions and their cultures, by exploring a topic (landmarks or music, for example) in relation to them. It’s the perfect way to introduce world geography to preschoolers.

Early Explorers makes it easy for you to talk about the world with your preschooler. If you’re already a subscriber, share your child’s favorite activity below; and if you’re not, think about ordering your first package today. Many adventures await!

Learn more about Early Explorers:

Read the Reviews for Early Explorers!

Explore World Music with Preschoolers!

Read more from Amanda here:

Exploring Thailand with Kids!

Jet-Setting to Kenya with Little Passports

Amanda Shaw homeschools her three spirited children and blogs about their adventures at ALifeWorthLearning.com.


DIY Tissue Paper Globe

This week, our crafty friend Brandy has shared her easy 4-step guide to making your own DIY tissue paper globe. This is a fun craft for little globetrotters, who can mark the places they’ve visited with Little Passports! Read on to learn more.

Create Your Own Colorful Globe

Tissue paper, a Styrofoam ball, and a bit of glue is all you need to make a darling little globe. This craft can also be adapted to make a solar system! Hang your globe with a small hook and string from the ceiling for a fun way to display.

I love using tissue paper for crafts because it is easy to work with and so colorful! We’ve made a vase and a sun catcher in the past, and today we are sharing how we made this darling tissue paper globe. Our kids have maps on their walls and are interested in learning about the places here on earth, and in the solar system, so we made this little globe to hang in their room. It was so easy to make and you can even mark the places you’ve traveled!

Styrofoam ball
Green and blue tissue paper
White glue or Mod Podge
Screw eye
Brush, optional

1. Cut 2 pieces of blue tissue paper into strips, then into 1-2″ squares. Cut abstract shapes out of green tissue paper for your continents, or you can be detailed and cut out the exact shapes using a map for reference.

2. We found that using our fingers to apply the glue worked best, but a brush works well and is less messy. Apply glue to your ball. Place tissue paper squares on your ball, overlapping and covering all of the white. Use glue to secure seams and make everything is nice and smooth.

3. After applying the blue squares, lay the green continents on top and smooth with your fingers. Brush a thin layer of glue over entire ball and let dry (the white glue will dry clear). A skewer and jar work great to keep it from sticking to your work surface while drying.

4. Dip your hanger in a bit of glue and screw it into the Styrofoam. Let dry.

5. Hang from the ceiling or wherever you like. Don’t forget to  mark the places you’ve visited!

Love to craft? Check out more below!

Make Your Own Recycled Tin-Can-Robot!

El Día de los Muertos – Paper Marigolds and Cupcake Skulls


Meet our guest blogger:

Brandy  is a California girl married to an Alaskan boy. They’ve lived all over the country, moving where the Coast Guard sends them, and are parents to 4 children (and a black lab puppy). Brandy has been surrounded by creative influences her entire life. Her biggest mentors being her mother and grandmother. When she grew up and started to have a family of her own, her desire to create blossomed as she turned each new house into a home. Her blog, gluesticksblog.com, is a collection of some of her favorite kids activities, projects, recipes, and craft tutorials.