Star Gazers

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As part of our road trip, we’ll be going to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.  My kids, have taken a curiosity to space, the stars and planets.  So I was excited when I saw that this week with the Little Passports Blog-Camp Explorer Week 3, you can download a free constellation activity sheet so they can learn the names and shapes of six constellations!  Full Disclaimer: The Little Passports link in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link for Little Passports.

In other space news, did you know that the Perseid Meteor shower, which happens every year, is going on right now?  It will peak between the 9th and the 14th of August.  While we won’t get to the Lowell Observatory during that time, we’ll still be in southeast Arizona where the dessert and limited cities lights will be a perfect place for my kids and I to do some stargazing.  I’m excited to just sit on my grandma’s front porch and stare up at the stars with them, just like I did as a kid!

If you are looking for a hands on activity for your kids in the Seattle area to learn a little more about space, check out the Seattle Museum of Flight.  In addition of their wonderful flight and airplane exhibits, they have some pretty cool pieces from past space crafts for kids to walk through as well as many space related exhibits.  They also have a 3D movie “Journey To Space” that captivated my 5 and 7 year old’s attention, as well as mine! The first Thursday of every month is free admission for entry after 5:00 p.m. and the museum stays open until 9:00 p.m.  So mark your calendars for August 6th!!!

Preparing for Japan with “Little Passports”

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It’s hard to believe we are leaving for Japan today!  As part of our preparation for the trip, we have some fun with our Little Passports World Edition Japan kit that helped introduce the country to our kids.  This is our first time in Asia so I wanted to do things that would help prepare the kids and teach them something they could understand or and relate with.  The Japan country kit was well received by all 3 of my little ones but my oldest son, who is 7 years old, dove into it the most.  The Little Passport kits are a great way to start discussions on geography, food and culture of other countries around the world.  Here is what we got to play with this month…

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The first thing my kids want to do is use the stickers.  They love the fact that you get to put one in the passport, one on their suit case and then find the country on our world map for the “push pin” sticker.

Finding Japan on the map!

Finding Japan on the map!

Both my 5 year old and my 7 year old loved the origami!  They both chose to make the boat.  One of the tips in the booklet was to color the bottom of the boat with a wax crayon so that it could float better.  This created a great discussion about water repellant materials and we did an experiment on which boats would hold up longer, the ones with the wax crayon on the bottom and the ones without!

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Testing the first boat with the wax crayon coating.

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Making more origami while the test boats float.

One of the other crafts in this month’s booklet was making a carp (koi fish) kite like they hang for Children’s day in Japan.  While we didn’t end up doing this yet, we talked about the custom in Japan to celebrate them and how parents wish health and good fortune and success.  We also took a trip to our city’s Japanese Garden where they had several koi fish in their pond that we got to feed.  Their mouths were so big and round that the kids saw the similarities of the circular mouths of the kites.

Carp (Koi) fish at Seattle's Japanese Garden.

Carp (Koi) fish at Seattle’s Japanese Garden.

One of the biggest concerns we have as parents when traveling with kids is finding food that they will eat.  Our Little Passports Japan activity booklet talked about Bento Boxes and what kids will often eat during the day in Japan.  My oldest son is really curious about cooking and making food these days so this was a perfect activity for him!  We made traditional sushi rice and let him choose things to add according to the ratios that we read about for bento box typical content.

Forming the sushi rice.

Forming the sushi rice.

Designing the contents.

Designing the contents.

The final product!

The final product!

After testing out some Japanese food at home, it was time to take the kids to a local Japanese restaurant where we ordered a bento box and some sushi!  It was a relief to see them so excited for food they wouldn’t normally touch because they had already experimented with it at home.  I hope that this will make it easier for us to eat on our trip in Japan too!!!

Trying a bento meal and yakisoba noodles at a local restaurant in our town.

Trying a bento meal and yakisoba noodles at a local restaurant in our town.

We also used one of the online interactive programs through the Little Passports Boarding Zone to get an idea of what cool things there are to see in different parts of the country which helped us highlight some of the “not to miss” areas that we will visit by train once we’re there.  I think we’re ready for our vacation in Japan!  Sayoonara for now!

Bringing the World Home

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Now that we’re living back in American and our children have begun elementary school, travel is more restricted.  So I am always looking for new ways to keep my kids learning about other cultures and excited to go to other countries.  I came across Little Passports, A Global Adventure that looked just like what I needed.

Little Passports is a monthly subscription of educational kits featuring different countries around the world as well as a U.S. version that highlights a different state in America each month.  The three different product types are called Early Explorers (ages 3-5 years old), World Edition (ages 6-10) and the U.S. Edition (recommended for ages 7-12 years old).  Your first mailing is a starter kit, that includes a little suitcase, a world map, an interactive passport, an activity sheet, stickers, a postcard and the first letter from “Sam and Sofia” explaining the start of their global adventure.  Each month, after that you receive a package in the mail that includes another pen pal letter from fictional characters, Sam and Sofia, telling your kids a little about what they have experienced in that month’s country.  It also includes a souvenir from that country and an activity booklet with craft ideas, recipes or games.  The kids also get stickers to place on their suitcase, in their passport and “push pin” for the world map.  One final thing was the “boarding pass” tags that include a code for you to enter online to access games and trivia about your country of the month.

The kids were so excited to open their World Edition starter kit from Little Passports!

The kids were so excited to open their World Edition starter kit from Little Passports!

Because of my blog, they offered to send me the starter kit and the first two countries (Brazil and Japan) in their monthly subscription pack if I would write some reviews on how we used them in preparation for, during, and after our trip to Japan.  I was excited to try them out with the kids!  My 7 year old was the most interested since he could actually read and complete the games and puzzles.  But even my 5 year old was curious about the online games, the souvenir included and the global trivia. Overall, my kids love getting things in the mail and the kits are a great jumping off point to getting your kids interested in more than just maps and geography.  I’ll be highlighting the package for Japan in my next blog post.

Little Passports' World Edition starter kit contents.

Little Passports’ World Edition starter kit contents.

If you’d like to check out more about Little Passports or even give them a try, just click here!  You can dive right in with a pre-paid one year or six month subscription or choose to try it out month to month.  The first 3 kits have been such a hit in our house that I decided to join their affiliate program to share these products with my friends and readers.  Full Disclosure: as an affiliate, I will get a small commission from any purchases my readers make by using the affiliate links within my posts.

I hope your kids enjoy them as much as mine have!  And to start it off, their summer promotion is going on right now, but there are only 2 days left for the 15% off.  Just go to the Little Passports website and enter the promo code “SUMMER15” at check out, by June 16, 2015, for your discount.  For my readers outside of the U.S. they do ship regularly to some countries and can arrange for shipping to others by contacting their customer service department.