WHAT’S EASIER THAN FAMILY WORLD TRAVEL?
AN AROUND THE WORLD PLAY DATE!
Long, leisurely play dates are one of those summertime perks you just don’t think about. But having all afternoon to indulge curious kids is exactly what’s needed to take your cutie and her buds on a virtual globetrotting adventure. It leaves plenty of time for them to jet set from one continent to the next, trying foods, learning phrases and even dressing up in traditional clothes from other cultures. And planning it is easier than you’d think. Here’s how to put it all together!
1. PLOT YOUR COURSE
Get out the map or your globe, because this is the fun part! Before your mini travelers take off, plan their itinerary ahead of time. Where in the world would they like to go on this play date? Here are some suggestions to help guide your picks:
· Choose a country you’d like to travel to.
· Choose a country related to your heritage.
· Choose a country you’ve never heard of.
· If your kids are learning/know another language, put a country where it’s spoken on your list.
· If your kids have friends from other parts of the world, visit their home country.
We’ve got 5 activities you can pair with your travel choices and recommend sticking to between 3 and 5 countries, depending on the age of your little globetrotters.
Once you’ve set your travel schedule, print out flags from each place you plan to visit and hang them up around the house. Each flag should represent a different country, so spread them out a bit. After all getting there is part of the fun! You can also find fun facts online about each destination and use them to play tour guide when your crew lands. National Geographic Kids is an easy resource to navigate for this part of the journey. Now that you’ve got a plan in place, it’s time to up the pretend play ante…
2. SET THE STAGE FOR CREATIVE PLAY
World travelers will tell you it’s all about the accessories. Suitcases with stickers from foreign lands, passports filled with official stamps, and don’t forget the boarding pass that gets you where you’re going. That’s why including realistic perks like these as part of your afternoon’s activity is a must.
If low-key is the way you like to play,
· Ask friends to bring their school backpacks to double as suitcases.
· Turn index cards into boarding passes that have each passenger’s name, age, destination and seat number. Make it fun and let the kids get in on the action too—they can fill out, color or even design their own cards.
· Print off a pretend passport (we’ve found some great free passport templates and then use stamps or stickers to fill in entries at each country they visit.
If you’ve got time to spare,
· Create construction paper suitcases the kids can take with them, and print out pretend passports and boarding passes too. Cotton Ridge Homeschool has some cute templates and craft ideas you can use. Learn Create Love has some free printables too.
· Get your plane ready for take off! Construct individual planes for each little traveler from cardboard boxes, or set up chairs in paired rows to mimic airplane seats. Then you’re ready for take off!
3. LET THE TRAVEL BEGIN!
Their bags are packed and they’re ready to go. Now it’s time to jet set. As the kids travel from one place to the next, pair one activity from the list below with each country they travel to. And if you play tour guide along the way (psst… pull out some fast facts to make it easy), they’ll love it even more.
· Dish up Delish Eats. Food is an easy place to start when it comes to blending cultures. Because there are so many easy meals and snacks kids can prep from around the globe. As you think about what to make, fall back on tried and true recipe ideas, like the kid-friendly foods on this list from Lonely Planet. Or seek out specific traditional recipes online or in a cookbook, if you’ve got time and eager kids to help out. But if your group is too young to cook, or low prep is more your style, browse the international aisle at your local grocery store. It’s sure to have some tasty finds that take little-to-no prep, like Nutella, Pocky Sticks, mangos, pre-made crepes, sushi and more. Remember, you can also browse your own fridge and cupboards for international foods you’ve got hiding in plain sight. This cool website of food origins can help you do it. Then it’s time to dig in!
Get Your Game on. Who doesn’t love to learn a new game? And virtual travel is the perfect excuse kids need to do it. You can put their skills to the test playing traditional games from around the world,, or check out our list of global games played with only a stick. It’s almost too easy! Parents can also look into everyday board and card games kids from other countries play, like Mille Bornes from France, or Ligretto, a German game. Keeping it super simple is cool too. Consider the always-easy Janken, the Japanese version of “rock, paper, scissors,” or pull out those Pokémon cards and play a round or two with your crew. Choosing what game to play is almost as much fun as playing it!
· Dress the Part. Get ready to dig in to your costume box and rummage through mom and dad’s closet because it’s time to play dress up! Creativity is key when it comes to recreating traditional garb, folk wear or even a contemporary look from your chosen country. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our Pinterest boards, Countries for Kids, for some stunning visual inspiration. Parents can also rely on well-known accessories like lederhosen, serapes, fans, parasols, clogs or berets to guide kids’ dress up decisions. Have everyone take a turn on the catwalk when they’re done!
Take a Look in a Book. You don’t have to hit the local library before your little passengers arrive to find stories from other cultures. A new-to-you book is just a click away at popular sites like Kids Travel Books or World Stories, where you’ll find exciting and engaging tales to entertain little bookworms. Story time is the perfect pit stop for weary world travelers who’ve been on the go all afternoon. So break out a few stories while the kids catch their breath. Then it’s on to one last activity before heading home…
· Learn to Speak Like a Local. End the day’s journey with a few key phrases kids should know when they travel. “Hello,” “goodbye,” “please,” “thank you” and “my name is…” are good places to start. All it takes is a quick Google search to unearth these phrases in virtually any language. Or give YouTube a try. There are quite a few channels that kids can use to learn the basics in Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish and more!
4. WRITE ABOUT IT
Make like a real world traveler and end your world play date reminiscing about all the fun you had on your trip. Once the kids have returned “home” pass out postcards and let them have at it, writing about new foods they tried, new stories they learned, and new games they played along the way. (Psst… this print-at-home postcard template. It’s a simple keepsake to make, and the perfect way to end the “trip.” Welcome home!
Wherever your play date journey takes you, be sure to set out your World Village Playset China at one of your stops. With its beautifully designed play mat, wooden puzzle figures, story cards and travel journal, it immerses aspiring globetrotters in a Chinese village alongside fellow travelers, Joe and Emma. What countries do your kids want to put on their around-the-world play date itinerary?
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