Sep
15
2014

Turkish Treat

During their trip to Turkey, Sam and Sofia tried Turkish bread, called “ekmek.” People in Turkey eat it with soups and stews. Sam and Sofia learned a recipe for Turkish bread “pizza.” Pick up some Turkish bread from the grocery store and follow the recipe below for a tasty Turkish treat!

Turkish Pizza Bread

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 4

What You Will Need

  • 2 loaves Turkish bread, medium thickness
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives, kalamata or black
  • 8 fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut each loaf in half (lengthwise) so you have 4 flat pieces. Drizzle the bread with olive oil.
  3. Evenly crumble the feta cheese over the bread.
  4. Slice the grape tomatoes and olives in half and place on top of cheese.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle fresh basil leaves on top. Enjoy!

Sep
10
2014

Raising Global Citizens in Paris!

What’s it like to be an American raising a family in France? We asked guest blogger Mary Winston Nicklin, a travel writer based in Paris, and mom to 4-year old Jane and 1-year old Cecilia.

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

Mary Nicklin:  There’s been a lot of buzz about the book Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, which explores a lot of the French-American cultural differences in parenting. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Paris is a fantastic place to raise kids. The cafes are children-friendly, and there are so many attractions! One favorite of ours is the ice skating rink set up in front of the Hotel de Ville, which is free (skate rental costs 5 euros). We can also walk to the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, which has got to be one of the most charming zoos on the planet. The original animals were Marie Antoinette’s at Versailles, and the focus is on biodiversity with exhibits featuring protected species from all over the world.

LP:  As a travel writer, what’s the most interesting place you’ve written about?

MN:  What a question! I feel idealistically about travel and consider it critical for cultural understanding. The places I’m drawn to are the ones with authenticity, where sites haven’t been trampled, local cultural traditions thrive, and there are opportunities for meaningful exchange. It doesn’t have to be “exotic” – I’ve been affected by trips to rural Virginia (my home state) and also the villages in “la France profonde.” I feel lucky to have lived for awhile in El Salvador, the tiniest country in Central America which also has the biggest heart. Now I’m obsessed with the Maghreb, and Tunisia specifically. From the oases in the Sahara to the whitewashed coastal towns on the Mediterranean, Tunisia is one of the finest places I’ve ever traveled, and I’m inspired by their newly ratified Constitution, which is a model for democracy in the Arab world.

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

MN:  Travel is eye-opening, but there is so much for us to discover right in our own backyards. I think the key is to look at your hometown with the eyes of a traveler, completely open to discovery. I find myself marveling, alongside my daughter Jane, about certain French customs. For example: The other day after school (yep, school! The French start ‘em young- at 3 years old!) Jane got really excited about some music she heard on the street. We kept walking, and as we rounded the corner we stumbled upon a veritable orchestra making their way down the street. French horns, trumpet players, all tipping a hat towards the tall apartment buildings for residents to toss down coins. We ran after them and danced along and dropped a few coins in the hat, bien sûr. I’ve seen this several times around the Paris streets and I think it’s marvelous.

Paris is a cosmopolitan city, so we like to get out and explore other cultural celebrations. They have a fabulous Chinese New Year fete in the 13th arrondissement, complete with booming firecrackers and a parade with dragon floats. We’re also learning some Arabic words from moms whose kids go to school with Jane. (It’s really multicultural.) Some of the moms are from Mali but they’ve given up on me; the sounds are so different and I’m hopeless!

LP:  Thanks for sharing!

Mary Winston Nicklin is a writer based in Paris, where she is raising her two daughters. She has been published in many top media outlets, such as Condé Nast Traveler, Afar, USAToday.com, Jetsetter.com, and France Today. You can learn more about Mary on her website.

Sep
4
2014

A Grandparents Day Reading List for Kids!

Grandparents Day is a special day for Little Passports. It’s a day we strongly believe in celebrating!

We encourage all of our young Global Citizens to ask their grandparents (or an elderly person they have a special bond with) about their childhood. Ask them where they grew up and what their town was like. Ask them about their favorite travels and adventures! They’ve been explorers for many years, and will have some exciting stories to share with you.

Speaking of stories, we wanted to share our own Grandparents Day Reading List, with some of our favorite books involving Grandparents.

1.  Pirate Gran, by Geraldine Durrant

Gran is no ordinary gran, she’s been a pirate since she was a young girl. She still wears her pirate hat around the house, carves the roast with her cutlass and even keeps a pet crocodile under her bed!

2. Our Grandparents, by Maya Ajmera, Sheila Kinkade and Cynthia Pon

This photo album captures relationships between kids and grandparents around the world. Flip through the photos and feel the love kids and grandparents share.

4. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

This is a tale of a joyful orphan sent to live with her hermit-like grandfather in the Swiss Alps. There, she helps change the lives of not only her grandfather, but many others.

4. The Moon Lady, by Amy Tan

On a rainy afternoon, three sisters wish for the rain to stop, wish they could play in the puddles, wish for something, ANYTHING, to do. So their grandmother, Ying Yang tells them an old tale about the night she met the Moon Lady, who grants the secret wishes of those who ask.

Enjoy these other great reads involving grandparents:

  • Here Comes Grandma, by Janet Lord
  •  Me With You, by Kristy Dempsey
  • The Mitten, by Jan Brett
  • The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flournoy
  •  Phoenix (5 Ancestors Out of the Ashes Series #1), by Jeff Stone
  • Abuela, by Arthur Dorros

 

To all the grandparents around the world – we honor you today and every day. We thank you for the wisdom you impart,  the love you provide, and the stories you tell!

Aug
13
2014

Back to School Traditions Around the World!

Around the world, kids are getting ready to go back to school. Some are picking out fresh boxes of crayons and pencils, while others are getting new lunch boxes and backpacks. Here’s a look at what students in different countries are doing to prepare for a new year of learning!

 

First Day of School in Japan

In Japan, children carry all of their school supplies in a randoseru to school. This hard-sided backpack is filled with books, origami paper and a special pencil case called a fudebako. For students who bring their own lunch to school, the tradition on the first day, thought to bring good luck, is to bring a lunch of rice with seaweed sauce and quail eggs. Also, since outdoor shoes are not permitted inside the school, students will bring their own pair of slippers.

First Day of School in Holland

In Holland, bakfietsen, or cargo bikes, are frequently used by parents to take their kids to school.  These bikes have a large box that sits on one or two wheels in front of the rider. Bakfietsen owners love that they are eco-friendly and don’t require a parking spot. The bikes are so popular with parents that nearly all bakfietsen are used to tote around the kiddies! On the first day back, students are sure to be rolling up to school in one of these smart inventions.

First Day of School in Germany

For a very long time now (200 years!), kids in Germany have been given a Schultuete (pronounced shool-too-teh) on the first day of school. A Schultuete, which translates to “school cone,” is a large, decorated paper cone filled with school supplies, small presents and sweet things to eat. Sometimes they’re nearly as large as the child!

First Day of School in Russia

To celebrate the beginning of a brand new year of learning, the first day of school in Russia is called the “Day of Knowledge.” On this day, children traditionally give colorful bouquets of fresh flowers to their teachers and receive balloons in return.

What’s YOUR back to school tradition? Tell us in the comments!

Explore more fascinating back to school traditions from around the world on our Pinterest board: http://bit.ly/1phq4mD

Aug
7
2014

Celebrating Family at the Obon Festival in Japan!

Join Sam & Sofia as they talk about their plans to celebrate Japan’s Obon Festival with friends!

Next week from August 13-15, the Obon Festival will take place in Japan. This is a special three-day Buddhist celebration during which Japanese families have reunions to honor their ancestors. This year our friend Nanami has invited us to join her family for the festivities!

Members of Nanami’s family will come from all over Japan to her home near Tokushima to take part in the tradition. Namani says her grandmother Amaterasu always decorates the house for Obon with beautiful flowers, special plates of delicious summer vegetables and fruits like suika (watermelon) and lots of decorative paper lanterns.

On the second day of Obon, we’ll head into Tokushima City for a traditional bon odori (folk dance). (In Tokushima the special name for the dance is awa dori). Nanami says there will be more than a million people there to celebrate!

Just like other traditional Japanese festivals, the streets of Tokushima will be lined with stalls called yatai which sell food like okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), cotton candy and chocolate-covered waffle stick. Plus we’ll get to play Japanese festival games like yo-yo fishing and bouncy ball scooping. There will be even be dancers and musicians parading through the streets until the sun goes down.

When the sun has set, the city center shuts down and becomes a huge dance stage. Hundreds of dancers, performing on multiple stages, will break into rhythm to the sound of gongs and drums.  For one dance, called the “Fool’s Dance,” they will chant something that translates to “the dancers are fools and the watchers are fools. Both are fools alike, so why not dance?” Just as they say, we in the audience may be invited to join the dance with them!

At the end of Obon, we will be able to participate in the toro nagashi, or floating of lanterns, which is a ceremony meant to remember our ancestors. We will walk from Nanami’s house to the Yoshino River where we’ll launch glittering paper lanterns on the surface of the water and allow them to float gently to the ocean.

It is truly amazing to think that the decorations, the dance and the festivities have been evolving into the current celebration for more than 400 years. But the most important part of Obon has remained the same, and that is celebrating the importance of relatives, home and the traditions of families.

Discover more about Japan and its culture with our World Edition

Jul
17
2014

3 Tips for Traveling Abroad with Kids

- Meet Candace Thomas, a stay at home mom of two boys and editor-in-chief of the lifestyle blog Luxe…With Kids. We asked her to share her thoughts on why traveling abroad with kids is so important.

My family recently took our first European vacation with our sons, aged two- and four-years old. It was their longest flight to date, and first major time zone change! Traveling the world with small children can be intimidating and demanding. But you’re giving your children a wonderful gift, both in terms of memories and in the sense of widening their perspective. It’s amazing to watch them develop the ability to appreciate their own culture, and also start to recognize common cultural differences. When you introduce your children to the world, you’re inspiring a curiosity and sense of wanderlust!

Here are three ways to inspire your global citizen before, during, and after your journey:

1) Before: Visualize Your Upcoming Trip

We love to look at maps and pictures, especially large world maps. Kids are instantly drawn to the different colors, shapes, letters and symbols. We point out where our family is from and talk about our heritage. We also talk about friends from school, people in our neighborhood, and others with whom we’ve crossed paths. You will be amazed at how many people you know from all over the world.

We have our Little Passports World Map on the wall, and the first thing our five-year old said when we announced we were going to Switzerland and England was, “let’s go look at where it is on our map!”

 


2) During: Think ‘What’s Different?’

What’s different about walking around in Vevay, Switzerland, compared to walking around in Houston, Texas? Well… they are speaking French, there are mountains AND they have Kinder Egg chocolates (a child’s fascination with a Kinder Egg knows no end). One of my favorite reasons for traveling is not only seeing new places and experiencing new cultures, but also to view home with a fresh set of eyes. We constantly ask our kids “what’s different”, “what do you like about it”, “how does it taste different”, “what do you think about…” These are engaging questions that help you see the impression travel leaves on your children’s thoughts. Don’t shelter them from what is different, highlight and celebrate it!

3) After: Remembering When You’re Home

Each of our boys picked out a special stuffed animal from Hamley’s, the incredible five-story toy store on Regent Street in London, as a souvenir to take home. They named their teddy bears ‘London’ and ‘Hamley’. When our older son returned to school, his teacher asked him to share his favorite thing about Switzerland. His reply? Playing in the snow.

Yep, he did play in the snow…in the SWISS ALPS! We still talk about Big Ben, double decker buses, the accents, the ride on the “tube” and eating fish and chips. We use the stuffed animals we brought home as a prop to engage them in a trip down memory lane. It’s not just a teddy bear, but a representation of the entire adventure!

The Bottom Line

Traveling internationally can be a great experience for kids. Don’t let long flights and time zones deter you; children are resilient and adjust quickly. Inspire your children to explore the world around them and instill a lifelong desire to travel!

 

About the Author:

Candace Thomas is a stay at home mom to two boys and editor-in-chief of Luxe…With Kids. Follow her and her family’s adventures on facebook , twitter and instagram.

 

Jul
2
2014

Follow Sam and Sofia on a Road Trip Across the USA!

The arrival of summer means a lot of things: no more school, longer and hotter days, plus all the ice cream your parents will let you eat! It also means time to vacation. Sam & Sofia love traveling all over the globe, but as our USA Edition subscribers know, the United States is also chock full of places to explore. One of the best ways to explore them is by packing up the car and hitting the road. We planned a three-day road trip to take you to some of our favorite destinations in different corners of the U.S.  Our only rule? Buckle up!

ROAD TRIP DAY 1: The South & the East Coast

Our first day started in space and ended in a coastal spot that took us back to the days before iPads, computers and cell phones existed. To our surprise, it was just as much fun.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville, AL

A full day’s worth of cool discoveries awaits you at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the official visitor center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. It is also the site of the country’s first Space Camp, which hosts popular programs for kids and grown-ups alike.

Lift off at the Main Exhibit to see original Mercury and Gemini capsule trainers used by US astronauts in the 1960s. Imagine yourself in orbit in the space travel simulator, then head to the Saturn V Hall to check out the Saturn V Rocket, one of only three still in existence. These rockets launched astronauts into orbit between 1966 and 1973 and remain the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rockets ever to be used! Outside, Shuttle Park brings you up close to a full-scale space shuttle. At the end of your visit, kick back with a movie at one of the center’s three space-themed theaters, including the IMAX Spacedome.

New Jersey Boardwalks — The Jersey Shore


New Jersey’s iconic beach boardwalks bring you back to Earth—and back in time. Boardwalks started in Atlantic City, where the first stretch of elevated walkway was built in 1870. Today New Jersey boasts some two dozen of these coastal wooden pathways (the most in the U.S.), each with its own colorful mixture of carnival games, amusement park rides and classic boardwalk food, like saltwater taffy and calzones. Families especially love Jenkinson’s Boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach, which contains tons of fun rides (like a carousel, a Tilt-A-Whirl and a sky-high Crazy Bus) and an aquarium filled with sea creatures. Another favorite is the two-and-a-half-mile long Wildwoods Boardwalk in southern New Jersey, which has three amusement park piers, three beachfront waterparks, electric Sightseer Tram Cars and hosts the National Marbles Tournament every June!

ROAD TRIP DAY 2: The Midwest & The West

On day 2 we drove from the middle of the country to one of the first frontiers of the American West, exploring history that’s both sweet and spooky.

Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup — Funks Grove, IL


Your sweetest stop yet! It’s located on Historic Route 66, the famous U.S. highway that runs for nearly 2,500 miles between Chicago and Santa Monica. That’s where the Funks of Funks Grove Maple Sirup began making their namesake treat way back in 1824. That’s when Isaac Funk staked out a piece of land for its fertile soil, and ample amounts of water and timber. Isaac’s grandson, Arthur, opened the first commercial sirup farm there in 1891 and the business has been passed down through the family ever since. Arthur’s cousin, Hazel Funk Holmes, declared her desire to keep the spelling of “sirup” with an “i” and included this wish in her will to ensure it would remain so forever. At the time, this special spelling indicated that no extra sugar was added to the irresistible gooey liquid. Today you can taste the difference when you visit the shop.

St. Elmo Ghost Town — Chaffee County, Colorado


Don’t worry; even though St. Elmo may be called a ghost town, it isn’t spooky! St. Elmo is often referred to this way because eventually, all of its citizens moved away and left the town abandoned! St. Elmo, founded in 1880, was like many other Colorado towns that sprung up during the mining boom. Gold and silver miners rushed to the state eager to find their fortunes and they needed a place to stay, so communities of houses, general stores and livery stables were quickly built. Many of these new towns were abandoned once the supply of riches dwindled. St. Elmo is one of the best-preserved of these towns, and day trippers continue to visit its old-timey streets. Make sure to stop by St. Elmo General Store for ice cream and a fun mix of souvenirs and antiques. If you’re feeling adventuresome, rent a four-wheeler to tackle nearby dirt roads or search for the town’s last remaining residents—chipmunks!

ROAD TRIP DAY 3: The Southwest & California

Our last day brought us to the other side of the country, where we camped in an unusual desert motel and hunted for treasure at a California beach!

Wigwam Village Motel #6 — Holbrook, AZ


Try saying the name five times fast. Then stretch your legs—and maybe stay the night—at this funky attraction, located off Route 66 in the hot Arizona desert. You might think the fifteen concrete-and-steel cone-shaped abodes look more like teepees than traditional wigwams, and you’re right. The structures are indeed shaped like teepees, but the architect Frank Redford, who pioneered the original design and village in Kentucky in 1937, preferred the name “wigwam”, and it stuck. A year later, in 1938, a man named Chester E. Lewis bought the plans and went on to build seven more Wigwam Villages around the country. The Arizona motel is one of only three remaining today (the others are in Kentucky and California). Each wigwam has original handmade hickory furniture and one or two beds, with a small bathroom.

Glass Beach — Fort Bragg, CA


The sparkle on this stretch of Mendocino County coast came from a most unlikely source: discarded trash. Starting in the early 1900’s, residents used the beach as a dump, throwing everything from cans and bottles to appliances, and even old cars, over the cliffs and into the ocean. Luckily, in 1967, the California state government put an end to the dumping because of the harm it was doing to both the ocean and coastal ecosystems. Over time, the sea has churned back the glass and debris and today the shore glitters with millions of colorful glass “pebbles” that have been tumbled smooth by the pounding waves. Kids and adults alike enjoy searching the shore to search for rarer pieces like “ruby reds”, fragments of old car tail lights, or “sapphire gems,” hunks of blue apothecary bottles. Make sure to take only pictures of what you find, though; the beach is now a state park, so pocketing your discoveries is not allowed. Treasure the memory instead and help preserve the beach’s unique beauty for future visitors to enjoy!

Learn more about these states and more when you subscribe to our USA Edition! http://bit.ly/1lKPfhb

 

Jul
2
2014

Road Trip Day 3: The Southwest & California

Our last day brings us to the other side of the country, where we’ll camp in an unusual desert motel and hunt for treasure at a California beach!

Wigwam Village Motel #6 — Holbrook, AZ

Try saying the name five times fast. Then stretch your legs—and maybe stay the night—at this funky attraction, located off Route 66 in the hot Arizona desert. You might think the fifteen concrete-and-steel cone-shaped abodes look more like teepees than traditional wigwams, and you’re right. The structures are indeed shaped like teepees, but the architect Frank Redford, who pioneered the original design and village in Kentucky in 1937, preferred the name “wigwam”, and it stuck. A year later, in 1938, a man named Chester E. Lewis bought the plans and went on to build seven more Wigwam Villages around the country. The Arizona motel is one of only three remaining today (the others are in Kentucky and California). Each wigwam has original handmade hickory furniture and one or two beds, with a small bathroom.

Glass Beach — Fort Bragg, CA

The sparkle on this stretch of Mendocino County coast came from a most unlikely source: discarded trash.  Starting in the early 1900’s, residents used the beach as a dump, throwing everything from cans and bottles to appliances, and even old cars, over the cliffs and into the ocean. Luckily, in 1967, the California state government put an end to the dumping because of the harm it was doing to both the ocean and coastal ecosystems. Over time, the sea has churned back the glass and debris and today the shore glitters with millions of colorful glass “pebbles” that have been tumbled smooth by the pounding waves. Kids and adults alike enjoy searching the shore to search for rarer pieces like “ruby reds”, fragments of old car tail lights, or “sapphire gems,” hunks of blue apothecary bottles. Make sure to take only pictures of what you find, though; the beach is now a state park, so pocketing your discoveries is not allowed. Treasure the memory instead and help preserve the beach’s unique beauty for future visitors to enjoy!

Learn more about Arizona and California when you subscribe to our USA Edition! http://bit.ly/1mBYf3t

 

Jul
2
2014

Road Trip Day 2: The Midwest & The West

Join Little Passports as we present Sam and Sofia’s 3 day road trip to the different corners of the U.S.A! Check back every day for the latest post. 

Today we’ll drive from the middle of the country to one of the first frontiers of the American West, exploring history that’s both sweet and spooky.

Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup — Funks Grove, IL

Your sweetest stop yet! It’s located on Historic Route 66, the famous U.S. highway that runs for nearly 2,500 miles between Chicago and Santa Monica. That’s where the Funks of Funks Grove Maple Sirup began making their namesake treat way back in 1824. That’s when Isaac Funk staked out a piece of land for its fertile soil, and ample amounts of water and timber. Isaac’s grandson, Arthur, opened the first commercial sirup farm there in 1891 and the business has been passed down through the family ever since. Arthur’s cousin, Hazel Funk Holmes, declared her desire to keep the spelling of “sirup” with an “i” and included this wish in her will to ensure it would remain so forever. At the time, this special spelling indicated that no extra sugar was added to the irresistible gooey liquid. Today you can taste the difference when you visit the shop.

St. Elmo Ghost Town — Chaffee County, Colorado

Don’t worry; even though St. Elmo may be called a ghost town, it isn’t spooky! St. Elmo is often referred to this way because eventually, all of its citizens moved away and left the town abandoned! St. Elmo, founded in 1880, was like many other Colorado towns that sprung up during the mining boom. Gold and silver miners rushed to the state eager to find their fortunes and they needed a place to stay, so communities of houses, general stores and livery stables were quickly built. Many of these new towns were abandoned once the supply of riches dwindled. St. Elmo is one of the best-preserved of these towns, and day trippers continue to visit its old-timey streets. Make sure to stop by St. Elmo General Store for ice cream and a fun mix of souvenirs and antiques. If you’re feeling adventuresome, rent a four-wheeler to tackle nearby dirt roads or search for the town’s last remaining residents—chipmunks!

Learn more about Illinois and Colorado when you subscribe to our USA Edition! http://bit.ly/1nXMGVG