Here at Around The World in 80 Diapers, our main goal is to convince parents to get out and explore the world with their kids. But we also realize that that’s not always possible at every stage of every life, so we also want to provide ways for families to explore the world without leaving their own neighborhood.
With that as inspiration, 80 Diapers is launching a new feature, the Highchair Travelers series. (Get it? Like armchair travelers, but for kids? HAH! I kill me.) Each post will feature an activity, recipe or other idea to help you share the amazing cultures of the world with your little ones, from the comfort of your own home. These ideas are designed to give your kids some of the benefits of world travel on a micro-budget.
This week: Getting started!
Years before we became world travelers, I wanted to find a way to interest my kids in the world around them. After trying several different things, we hit on a successful formula. Every few weeks, we had a special International Night where we centered our activities on a different country. We might make a special recipe, create a craft, or celebrate another country’s holiday. Because Mom is very busy, it was usually quite simple, but sometimes I went all out (like our traditional Advent celebrations, or an especially elaborate craft to explore another religions’ Holy Day.)
Besides being fun (and it is!) these weekly forays out into the world helped open our boys’ minds to the fact that other countries were “real”. They were full of real people, living real lives, with real feelings and hopes and dreams and beliefs. One of the most important, and most difficult, concepts for children (and adults, actually) to grasp is that people living in other countries are living their lives as fully as you are. That they love their families, and believe their beliefs, and engage in their world in exactly the same way that you do. This chance to peek into the lives of other cultures can be an invaluable building block as kids construct their own worldview.
We bought fake passports (you can get some great cheap ones here) and every time we “traveled” to a different country, we got our passports stamped. (I just used a plain round stamp and wrote in the country and date on top of the stamp each time.) Another option is to use stickers of the flags from each country you “visit.”
The boys loved this idea, and having a physical passport helped them engage in “really going” to new countries each week. This made them much more open to trying new foods and new activities. Make sure you get “passport photos” to put inside the book and make it official. You can have the kids draw them, crop your own photos to fit, or if you want to be really cool, get some actual passport pictures taken. Most drug stores and photo developers will take passport pictures for about $5.
Plus, the passports will be fantastic keepsakes for when they are older. Even though my boys have several nearly-full real passports now, they still like looking through their first pretend ones and remembering our early adventures in our own kitchen.
To find all our Highchair Travelers posts, you can use the drop-down menu above, or click here for a link to all the posts. You can also view them all by region or in a calendar. And our Pinterest page is full of great ideas for learning more about our featured countries.