Travel is and has always been something I enjoy a lot. A love of travel and an appreciation of different cultures and countries is something The Bavarian and I are very keen to cultivate in our children.
While they haven’t travelled terribly widely, the boys have already been to several European countries as well as on various short trips around Germany and Ireland so that they get to know their parents’ home countries and the countries bordering on Germany.
Given all that, I was delighted to be contacted by Serena from the Irish start up Travel Kids Club recently to ask whether the boys would like to become club members and review the initial Travel Kids Club pack. After a quick consultation with Number One and Number Two, I said yes, we’d love to give it a try.
Serena and Johnny, a well-travelled pair and the creators of the club, had the idea to help children learn about other contries and their customs, culture and creatures but also about the difficulties faced in those countries by sharing their own experiences of these countries.
The idea of Travel Kids Club is a simple one and, I hope, one that will help create a social conscience in children. The way it works is that every month a pack is sent out with information on a particular country. July focussed on Cambodia. Each month the children get to vote on causes that should receive donations.
You can read more about Travel Kids Club here.
The pack we received in July arrived in time for us to take it with us on holiday. Since we usually pack some kind of educational activities for the boys, the timing was perfect. During our stay in the West of Ireland the boys got great use out of the pack. More, in fact, than I would have thought.
We found the pack to be suitable for both Number One and Number two, despite the two year age gap. Number Two was very taken with the stickers and the make-and-do activities – a spider, an elephant and a hot air balloon to cut out and assemble.
Number One, on the other hand, was captivated by the booklet describing life in Cambodia and dotted with photos of real life scenes. The language is child-friendly but not dumbed down. The tone – that of someone who has been to Cambodia and is explaining the unusual things they witnessed there – is natural and appeals to the curiousity of children – or at least to that of my children.
Both children had great fun with the wordsearch and crossword that came as part of the activitiy pack. The word search alone kept both boys busy for a good half hour while we were out for dinner one evening on our holiday.
A piece of paper that can keep children’s minds occupied for that long is so much better than a tablet to my mind. They got to practice writing and clue solving plus they were quiet and calm – always a bonus when you bring children to a restaurant.
For me the thing that sets Travel Kids Club out from the crowd of educational magazines, apps and books is that it encourages a social conscience, something that my own parents passed on to me and which I have encourages in the boys from day one.
By being given the opportunity to think about two entirely different social projects, by being asked to give their opinion and choose their preference, the boys began to realise that what they think and choose matters in the world.
Initially they turned up their noses at the idea of choosing. With a little encouragement from us in the form of reiteration of the pros and cons of supporting each of the social projects.
When it came to the actual voting, both boys independently chose to support the project I would not have chosen. At first I was a little disappointed but then I realised that the pack had succeeded. I had not influenced them with my support – in understanding, perhaps, but not in which project to choose.
I would have chosen the project that supported a person. They chose the one that supported animals. When I asked why Number One chose the project he did, he explained “Well, would you rather help one person or a whole species?”. When he put it that way, it did seem that might be the more sensible choice.
The only thing that didn’t interest the children was the colouring in competition. They love crafts but they are not colourers. Not even the chance of winning a prize could interest them in colouring in a picture.
All in all, we were very happy with the pack’s content and message.
[Disclaimer: We were provided with the Travel Kids Club pack free of charge for review purposes. I was not paid to write this review. All photos, words and opinions are my own and those of my children.]