I am very honored to have her guest post. Below you’ll find her list of 15 of the best toys for summer armchair travel. Yes, this isn’t book related, but this site is about making other cultures accessible to kids. Even though I consider myself familiar with the options out there, Laura’s list has so many I haven’t heard of before. Thank you, Laura…
It’s a big, beautiful world out there and kids need to know about it. If you’re a traveling family, it’s a sad reality that time and money are limited and there’s no way to explore the entire earth. If you’re more of an armchair travel family, the challenge to inspire curiosity and respect for the world is even greater.
What can you do that isn’t exhausting and doesn’t feel like school? Toys.
There are some gems out there that bring the world home to play in that corner of the room where all the toys mingle. It’s a lot cheaper than travel and we all know kids need more playtime anyway. With these toys, kids will explore the world. You’ll not only be giving them precious playtime but you’ll be enriching their understanding of the world just by having fun.
So many of the things in our daily lives have come to us through global trade. Morning banana, anyone? People are traveling for their jobs or for fun. Many families came to this country as immigrants and now we live in diverse neighborhoods. And of course, the world is only a click away via the internet.
Will our kids be ready for the global world of their adult lives? Yes, they will. Because it just isn’t that hard. Unlike 4th grade math, you won’t have to study up to teach them what they need to know. All you need to do is let them play.
I’ve been searching for multicultural toys since the first inspiration to start my company, Whole Wide World Toys, and these are some of my very favorites.
Please note: Some of the links are affiliate links.
Best armchair travel toys for cultural immersion:
World Village Playsets are richly detailed play worlds where kids are immersed into world cultures and learn through their own storytelling.
Buy these toys on Amazon.
Best armchair travel subscription boxes:
Little Passports mails activities, stickers, photos and a souvenir about a different country each month.
Find out more about the subscriptions available at Little Passports.
Try the World
Try the World is a delightful surprise of delicious food from a different country each month. Try the World isn’t specifically for kids, but I felt like a kid when I opened it!
Find out more about the subscriptions available at Try the World (use code “kidstravelbooks” for a 15% discount).
Another foodie alternative
If that’s too expensive, try the cookbook International Night: A Father and Daughter Cook Their Way Around the World *Including More than 250 Recipes* by Mark Kurlansky & Talia Kurlansky, and explore the world’s food on your own.
Best armchair travel ways to learn a new language:
*** Please note that Amazon Prime customers also get access to many of the Little Pim videos through their prime account! ***
Best armchair travel toys to teach geography:
GeoToys is an amazing resource. They are geography nirvana. Geotoys has puzzles, games and globes and you’re sure to find something that fits your child’s play style. You can’t go wrong!
Choose from a large selection of options on Amazon.
Best armchair travel puzzles:
Cubic Fun has 3D puzzles of famous world monuments like the Arc de Triomphe, Beijing Tian’anmen Square, Big Ben, Bolshoi Theatre, Burj al Arab, Chrysler Building, Double Decker Bus, Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Holland Windmill, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Maya Pyramid, Notre Dame de Paris, Spasskaya Tower, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge,Taj Mahal, and Tower Bridge.
For older kids, 4D Cityscape has multilayer puzzles where kids building a city as it grew over time. They have more than 30 cities including Barcelona, Berlin, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Osaka, Paris, Rome, St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Sydney, Taiwan, Tokyo and Warsaw.
For little ones, this puzzle called The World Around Me is an inspiring introduction to the world map that’ll launch their curiosity to learn more.
Best armchair travel music for kids:
Jamtown gives kids the chance to play real instruments made by artisans from around the world. I especially love the Percussion Adventure Package and the Multicultural Instruments Family Package to get started with a variety of instruments. Individual instruments are available from Gifts for Humanity.
Putumayo Kids will transform your time in the car with the kids. Their CDs offer musical traditions from around the world so good, you’ll even enjoy them 100th time.
Best armchair travel blocks for kids:
Uncle Goose Blocks are the ultimate blocks. Supremely beautiful and daringly different. Alphabet block sets include Arabic, Cherokee, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Maori, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, and Ukranian. And just for fun, their Kokeshi blocks are a stunning addition to your block collection.
These blocks are delightfully understated design of buildings, transportation, and animals from major world cities like Paris, New York, London, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Bangkok, Dubai, and Hollywood.
Young builders with an itch to create can build a monument for the ages with Haba’s architectural blocks. Sets on offer include Arabian, Greek, Oriental, Roman Arch and
Roman Coliseum Architectural Block Sets. Buy on Amazon.
The world really is right here where you are.
About Laura Barta and Whole Wide World Toys
Laura Barta is the Founder of Whole Wide World Toys and the creator of World Village Playsets, a multi award-winning series of fun and engaging educational toys which immerse kids in fascinating cultures through storytelling and activities.
Laura has lived and worked on 4 continents, traveled to more than 50 countries and interviewed countless consumers worldwide as a product development scientist. Her goal is to promote respect for people of all cultures with fun toys that capture the wonder of exploring new cultures.
She lives and works in Hershey, Pennsylvania where the air smells like chocolate.
Whole Wide World Toys:
Award-winning World Village Playsets are fun, engaging educational toys helping kids explore new people and places around the world.
- Each World Village Playset includes:
- a high quality, soft fabric playmat with rich details and wall-worthy illustration
- a 13-piece painted, chunky wood puzzle for interactive play and foreign language translation of each figure
- a Travel Journal storybook with 32 pages features interesting, informative
- illustrations and is narrated by Emma and Joe, a brother and sister traveling in the chosen culture
- 14 story cards with prompts for storytelling and images for matching with the playmat
Thank you, Laura, for so many wonderful ideas and suggestions to bring the world closer to home.