Little Passports Review
"Little Passports, A Global Adventure," is a really great idea.
You sign your child up for a monthly subscription, and a package arrives each month from a new country, enabling your child to learn more about the world in an exciting and fun way.
My daughter, at 10, was sort of near the top end of the age range that I thought this might be good for, whereas I thought my son, at 5, wouldn't really be interested yet. I was thinking it might be nice for the 6-9 crowd. Still, I thought that it was such a neat idea that I'd go ahead and order it. I ordered it in Alexa's name because I knew she'd appreciate getting mail and would understand what we were learning about, but I figured if Ben showed any interest whatsoever, he could hopefully join in on it, too, even without me having to order two subscriptions.
As it turned out, Alexa was very excited about being signed up for this and apparently didn't consider herself too old at all, so I guess this is good for at least some ten year olds, too. :)
The concept is this:
"Each month our characters, Sofia and Sam, travel to a new country on their magical scooter and share their experiences with your child.Your child will receive an exciting package via postal mail that includes an adventure letter, fun souvenirs, activities and access to our online Boarding Zone full of games and activities."
Our first package, the "First Month Explorer's Kit" arrived in the mail in December. It contained:
A really cute little "travel suitcase" with an introductory letter from Sam and Sophia, a photograph of Sam and Sophia, a world wall map, a "travel passport," stickers of Sam and Sophia (for decorating the suitcase with), an Activity Sheet (at least part of which is done by using the map), and a "boarding pass" with an access code to get to the online activity area.
Alexa loved the suitcase and loved putting the stickers on it. She had fun with the activity sheet (which Ben DEFINITELY would have been too young for), and enjoyed filling out some of the questions in her "travel passport."
Alexa was excited about the online area, but when we accessed it, I found it kind of disappointing (at first). It only consisted of three activities, none of which took more than like five minutes to complete, and which don't really have lasting appeal- once you complete it/do well with it, you're not really inspired to do it again- such as answering the same exact ten trivia questions in two different world trivia/world continents Q&A games and doing a simple "jigsaw puzzle" activity. (The trivia questions, by the way, would also have been WAY too difficult for my five year old- he loves computer games but would have had no interest in or understanding of these particular online activities).
I commented to Alexa that I thought there would be more to the online area, and she just sort of shrugged and said, "Oh well, it was still fun."
During the month of January, she asked several times about when her next package would come. She was looking forward to receiving it. It arrived in late January, and Alexa was very eager to open it.
The first month's country was Brazil, and the envelope contained:
An adventure letter from Sam and Sophia, a "country stamp" for the travel passport, a "map marker" to mark the country she learned about on her map, and a sticker to decorate her "travel suitcase" with. There was also a photograph of a monkey (which had been mentioned in the adventure letter), and a souvenir that Alexa absolutely loved- it was a chunk of amethyst (which had also been referred to in the adventure letter) and she adored it- she's always been into things like rocks and fossils and gems and whatnot though.
Lastly, there was another "boarding pass"/access code which would allow her access to new activities in the online area. Again, there were only three activities, and other than maybe one of them, they weren't ones you'd want to revisit over and over, and they didn't take longer than a few minutes to do.
But I've decided that the appeal is more in receiving mail and the photos and souvenirs and stickers and so on, and in deciding how you want to go about following up on the country you just learned about. For instance, after reading about Brazil, I remembered we had a book about rain forests on one of our bookcases, and I decided to grab it so we could read it together. But there are so many directions you can go if you want to follow up and learn more about the country your child received a package from- books, recipes, crafts, music, videos, etc.
The online activities are just a fun little bonus, not a main feature. (At least, that's how it seems at this point, after only having received access to two areas. By the time Alexa receives packages from the 23 different countries she's supposed to receive packages from, she'll have unlocked quite a few activities, and I don't yet know what those will be. Maybe some of them WILL be more time-consuming or the types of things a kid might want to revisit. But I've decided that I don't really care either way, because Alexa doesn't seem to care what the online area consists of or doesn't consist of- she just loves getting the mail and seeing what's in that envelope that shows up in our mailbox each month). :)
As for whether Ben could have shared in it with her if he HAD been interested- the answer is "Probably." They could certainly both read the adventure letters (they aren't addressed to a particular child's name, they just start with "Hi," and continue on to talk about the most recent "adventure"). The activity sheet could easily be photocopied and used for more than one child, and more than one child could do the games and activities in the online area. As long as the kids aren't going to "fight" about who gets to "keep"/"own" the one souvenir or photograph that comes each month or the stickers or something, they probably could share rather than having to order two kits. One kid could put the sticker on the suitcase, the other could put the country stamp in the passport book. They could take turns putting the map marker on the map. The souvenir could get displayed in a common area or stay in the travel suitcase which could be kept in a common area- it COULD be done that way if kids were willing. But if they're going to want their own suitcases and their own souvenirs and to keep these things in their own room and so on, you might want to order more than one subscription.
UPDATE: Received our "Japan" packet. Alexa enjoyed receiving her "sushi eraser" and her packet of origami paper with instructions as souvenirs. My husband commented that she's getting cool things and that he likes this subscription and finds it to be reasonably priced.
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