Little Passports is a subscription service that sends your child a monthly package designed to teach them about a specific country. Each package includes activities and items themed around the culture of that month’s featured country. Geography has never been one of my strong points, in fact it was the subject I hated most at high school after gym, so I had more than a little trepidation when my son (FB) began to express a keen interest in the subject by constantly asking me to label maps and point out locations my husband and I had visited in the past.
Despite my lack of subject knowledge, I was keen to develop his interest at a young age–beginning first with simply buying a globe for his room and investing in an atlas. However, when I began to hear about the Little Passports service I was keen to sign him up for a trial.
When you first sign up to Little Passports, your child receives a high quality cardboard suitcase in which they can keep all the items they will receive in the coming months. Also included in the initial mailing is a large world map, a passport, an activity sheet, and a letter from Sofia and Sam: the two fictional children who will effectively host your child’s journey around the world.
Sofia and Sam’s aunt owns a magical scooter that can take them anywhere they want to go, and each month they will write to your child about their most recent adventure. FB was incredibly excited to receive his first mailing and keen to get started on the learning process by placing his initial stickers onto the suitcase and onto his passport before starting his activity sheet. This first sheet included simple code breaking to find out how to say “hello” in five different languages, a match the animal to its native continent puzzle, and a spot-the-flags puzzle. Completing the activity sheet together took around 45 minutes.
One month later we received our first monthly mailing–this one focused on Brazil. I have to admit feeling a little disappointed in the packaging which was just a standard white mailing envelope with a stamp on it – something of a downgrade from the initial large box containing the suitcase. Although a very small detail, a themed envelope of some sort would really add to the overall experience.
The Brazil package contained stickers for the suitcase, passport, and world map, a photograph of a red uakari monkey and an amethyst which both tied into the letter from Sofia and Sam, and another sheet of activities.
The activities were tricky for a five-year-old, however FB was very keen to attempt them all. The first activity used the world map to help us decipher anagrams of all the countries bordering Brazil, another was a large word search of Portuguese words, and the final was a recipe for brigadeiros–a popular Brazilian party treat.
Our second month’s mailing came from Japan. The mailing was broadly similar, again featuring stickers, activities, a photograph, and a small souvenir item–this time a cute eraser shaped like sushi. Once again, FB was keen to attempt all the activities on the sheet and thoroughly enjoyed participating in them. We learned about Children’s Day (May 5th), were given instructions on how to make koinobori (carp kites), and played spot-the-difference with bento boxes. Our Japan package also came with a set of origami papers and instructions for making 14 different items from them. I had never attempted origami before and quickly learned that I’m not very good at it!
FB was very excited every time we received a package and wanted to leap in and do all the activities immediately–even when that wasn’t practical for us. He was proud to show off his learning and had a list of countries he hoped would appear in future mailings–mostly places his classmates and family had visited. I always found the items in the mailings to be of very high quality and to have high educational value. I too found myself learning new information about the countries, and I enjoyed sharing these experiences with my son.
Each mailing also includes a luggage tag (boarding pass) with a code printed on it. These codes can be used to access online activities on the Little Passports website. So far our codes have given us access to trivia games, jigsaw puzzles, interactive maps, and silly quizzes. The Little Passports website also features an excellent blog which updates frequently with posts about countries, festivals, and activities which are free for all. These give a great taster of what you will receive in your monthly kits.
As well as the “World Edition” that we tried, which is aimed at children aged six to ten, Little Passports also offer “Early Explorers” for younger children, aged three to five, and the “USA Edition” for those aged seven to 12, which focused on the U.S. States. This is aimed at a slightly older age range and teaches not only geography but some U.S. history as well. Despite not living in the USA ourselves, I would still be interested in receiving that service in the future and I am hoping it will eventually be available to UK customers.
The service cost varies depending on your subscription plan with longer subscriptions giving better value. Paying monthly on an auto-renewal contract for the World Service costs $12.95/month plus $3 shipping within the USA, and the service is available in many different countries. If you take a break from the service, when you return your account will remember where you left off and pick up from the next country in the list.
Several months after receiving our Brazil mailing, I found myself in FB’s school standing beside a giant world map in the main corridor. He ran over to the map and was able to immediately identify Brazil on the map, specifically telling me that he knew this because of the letter he received in the post from “those two children.” Partly because of this, I found myself rating Little Passports very highly and hoping we can afford to continue our subscription.
GeekMom received a three-month subscription to this service for review purposes.