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I first heard about Little Passports when my oldest (now 4.5 years) was a toddler. I was excited to sign her up as I wanted her to be curious about places around the world and thought this might inspire conversations about places she’d never been. So, when she was 3-years-old, I registered her for a subscription. The signature bright suitcase arrived in early 2018, and we are now wrapping up our year-long subscription.
After 12 packages that contained kits focused around themes from homes to sports, I have a mixed review and learned a few things about how to maximize a subscription service with young kids. (Note: This is a review of the Early Explorers subscription box for 3 to 5 year olds. The subscriptions for older children are different, see the Little Passports’ website for details.)
What Is a Little Passports Subscription?
Little Passports offers subscription-based deliveries that focus on travel-related themes for children in the following age groups: 3 to 5 (Early Explorers), 6 to 8 (World Edition and USA Edition), and 9+ (World and USA Editions plus Science Expeditions).
You can subscribe on a monthly basis at a slightly more expensive per package rate or opt for a 6- or 12-month plan. There are also some add-on products — like dolls, books and activity games that you can purchase for an additional fee.
The subscription begins with the arrival of a suitcase that’s packed with a few items. In the case of the Early Explorers’ suitcase for 3 to 5 year olds, it includes a wall-sized world map, luggage tag, stickers, activity booklet and welcome letter. Over the course of the subscription, additional packages will arrive that include other fun souvenirs, activity booklets, stickers for dressing up the suitcase and map and more.
The Little Passports map is bright, colorful and easy for my kids to understand. We talked a lot about places both related to the Little Passports kits (Where do people like to play soccer?) and other topics (Where does Peppa Pig live?). This will definitely stay in our playroom for a long time.
The kits provided stuff (cards, games, activity books) around topics that I don’t usually think to talk about. So, in that way, it did inspire conversations.
While I wanted to really adore Little Passports, not everything was a total hit with my child or with my family is in life right now.
A Mixed Bag
Each kit contains a toy, playing cards, a sticker for your suitcase, two activity books (one with little puzzles to solve and one “flashlight adventure” where you find different pictures related to the topic) and stickers to add to your map. My daughter liked the stickers, the flashlight adventure, the activity books and the toy. She didn’t care about the cards. This may have been her age. At 4, she’s not into collections yet, so the cards may go over better with older kids.
Some of the activities in the books were not challenging and were color coded. By this, I mean that the house with the orange outline in column one matched with the orange continent in column two. So, while my 4-year-old completed the activity books mostly independently, was she actually thinking about what kind of house would be in Europe versus Africa? I don’t really think so.
The conversations that the kits did inspire were limited to the 15 minutes, or so, that my daughter spent looking at the materials and completing the activity book and rarely came up again. It did not inspire the general curiosity about the world that I’d hoped for. That said, there are some things that I could have done to make the subscription a bigger part of our year, so that isn’t totally on the kit itself. It could also be an age thing since my child is still on the younger side of the Little Passports spectrum.
How to Do Little Passports Right
It was far from a total bust for us and Little Passports may be a good fit for your kids. If you do sign up, here’s what I did, or would do differently, to get the most out of each package:
Use the Map!
This is one thing we did right. Post the map in a place that you’ll see it daily and can refer to it often. If you’re really good, add your own stickers to show where your family is from, where you’ve visited and any other ideas to make the map more relevant to your child’s life.
Set Aside One-on-One Time, If You Can
The times when I liked the subscription the best were when I saved the package for a rainy day and we took time to open it and explore it together. For my 4-year-old, with two younger siblings, this was one thing that she got that was just hers, and that was valuable.
The benefit of subscription services like Little Passports is the opportunity to connect. If you can take time to read about upcoming themes (reading books about places around the world, for example), your child will have more to connect with when their Little Passports package about homes or sports arrives.
Make It a Family Affair
Similarly, if you can connect your family’s interests to the themes, that will make the packages more valuable, too. For example, if you can tie your family’s enthusiasm for football to the sports themed package, that will help your child connect and learn.
The idea is that the kids keep everything in their little suitcase, but this did not happen in my house. (Our orange suitcase, quite beat up from use, is in the kid’s dress-up area.) If you want to help your kid prioritize a subscription, create a way to keep and organize the materials (like the playing cards) so you can revisit everything they’ve gotten over the course of the subscription year.
Get Your Kids a Real Passport
As your children learn about the world through their Little Passports subscription, you may decide it’s the right time to get them their own real passports. Here are four things to know about US passports for children.
Best Way to Pay for Your Little Passports Subscription
There are different types of subscriptions, but to give you an idea of cost, most price at around $15 – $18 per month plus shipping. Little Passports isn’t listed at any of the miles or points online shopping sites at the moment, but you can currently get a 3% cash rebate from Ebates and 6% rebate from TopCashBack. Otherwise, use the best credit card you have for everyday spending or charge the purchase to a card where you are working toward the minimum spending requirement. Right now, promo code JOY knocks 15% off the first month of a new subscription, but search around to see if you can find an even better code or get referred by a current member to save.
I didn’t renew my child’s Little Passports subscription after the first year, but I would consider signing the kids up for another round in the future as they get older and more curious about their world.
Have you done Little Passports? What did your kids think about the toys and activities?
Featured image courtesy of Little Passports
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