Little Passports: Brazil

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On the heels of his welcome package from Little Passports, Travis was thrilled to receive his first country package in the mail, all about… Brazil!

There was lots of similarity to the format of his Early Explorer’s envelopes, making me glad I started him off with that subscription. But it was immediately evident that now he’s in a higher age bracket (ages 5 to 8), particularly with the booklet activities. The booklet was chock full of interesting facts about Brazil, and the Amazon Rainforest in particular.

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Although he needed some help with the more word-heavy activities (a word scramble, a word find), he gamely wrote all the letters and loved the art activities, including drawing a spider monkey, following mazes, and uncovering hidden animals among blue morpho butterflies.

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There was a new coin to add to his coin chart, a new sticker and luggage tag for his suitcase, a stamp for his passport, and a “push pin” for his world map.

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We were quick to discover that Little Passports has many bonus features online. Travis loved the vibrant photographs of Brazil to scroll through, 3 samples of Brazilian music to hear, and Portuguese words to learn.

Souvenir:

The gift this month was an amethyst, with a card explaining how Brazil is one of the top producing countries for amethyst worldwide. I knew he would love it, and for this reason had opted for a full Mineral Kit add-on. Travis adored peering at all of the minerals with the provided magnifying glass.

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Activities:

First up, futebol puppets! This adorable game was to highlight the popularity of Brazil’s favorite pastime: soccer. We printed out the template of a boy and girl soccer player. Cut these out and secure the strap with tape. Your pointer finger and middle finger become the legs.

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It was Travis versus mommy for a shoot-out!

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He also loved coloring in a Brazilian flag for a flag garland (we’ll be adding to this in the future with later countries!), very carefully following an image online.

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Finally, he followed the online instructions to draw more rainforest creatures. He was so proud of his tree frog!

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Recipe:

A trip to a new country isn’t complete without sampling the food of course. This month’s recipe was for brigadeiros, a Brazilian sweet popular at parties. Both Nature’s Charm and Let’s Do Organic make canned condensed coconut milk; look for it in the baking aisle.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
  • 1 (11-ounce) can sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Shredded coconut to taste
  • Chocolate sprinkles to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.LP Brazil (10)
  2. Add the coconut milk and cocoa powder. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick. If you drag a spoon through it, the mixture should take a moment before it runs together again.
  3. Pour onto a cookie sheet and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  4. Now scoop up the “dough” and roll it into small balls. Having buttered fingers helps! LP Brazil (11)
  5. Alternate rolling the balls in the coconut and chocolate sprinkles. Transfer to the cups of a mini muffin tin and chill for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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These were a big hit for dessert. And Travis can now proudly say, “Obrigado“.

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Drum Time

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We had a rainy day today, which made it the perfect moment for an impromptu drum session with Veronika!

I had three different sized oatmeal containers in the recycle bin, including a full-sized oatmeal canister and two smaller servings of instant oatmeal. So first I made her a set of bongo drums! If you don’t have different sized oatmeal containers, use three that are all the same but cut them to different heights. Use masking tape to secure them together, and voila!

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A wooden spoon and a few rhythm sticks were all we needed to start drumming. I also showed her the different ways we could drum with just our hands. We explored with our fingertips, our palms, our knuckles, and more.

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This was great for letting her explore all the different ways we can use our hands and fingers.

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But she liked the sticks best, and soon was giving lots of proud taps.

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We added a soundtrack of favorite songs (heavy on drum beats of course), and started up a jam session.

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Later in the day, I set up her up with a “drum circle” of bowl and pot drums. On a soft blanket, I arranged a sauce pot, a few loaf pans, a plastic bowl, and another empty oatmeal container. I sat her in the center with her mallets and put the music back on.

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Let the drumming begin!

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Don’t worry if your toddler drums in unconventional ways. Veronika enjoyed turning the vessels right side up so she could swirl the rhythm sticks around the inside, which made a fun clanging sound.

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She also loved piling the “drums” one inside the other, turning it into a stacking game and drum session all in one.

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When she discovered that the loaf pan made a spectacularly loud clang on the wooden floor, this had to be repeated several times.

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I didn’t reprimand her, since it’s not drum play until it gets a little loud! In sum, this was a fun way to explore volume, dynamics, rhythm, and so much more.