Little Passports: Australia

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Strangely, I feel as though Travis’s packages from Little Passports are arriving closer together than one month apart… but during home school, we’re not complaining! Travis couldn’t wait to read “Sam and Sofia’s” letter and do all the usual activities: a sticker for his passport, a pin on his map, a coin for his chart, and a tag on his suitcase.

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The booklet had a fun coloring activity about a coral reef, color-coded in such a way that my kindergartner could easily follow along.

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The word find, on the other hand, was tough even for this mama! Online featured great extras; Travis particularly enjoyed the photos and clips of Australian music. Australian phrases like “rug up” and “ankle biter” got quite a laugh.

Souvenir:

No sooner was the envelope open than Travis was testing out the scratch art kit. The idea is to introduce kids to Aboriginal dreamtime symbols, and Travis loved the rainbow colors that appeared.

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He learned a few symbols (“I get it, because a kangaroo jumps up!” he noted, spotting that one), and then designed his own, which had us veering off in a Star Wars direction.

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Further Activities:

First up was a Didgeridoo Kazoo. Both kids enjoyed decorating an empty paper towel tube with markers.

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A lot of it was their own inventive scribbles, but we worked in some dreamtime symbols, too.

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As they colored, I read about how the didgeridoo dates back thousands of years. Place a square of wax paper over one end of the tube, and secure with a rubber band.

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Hum down into it for a deep, warbling sound. We put on some didgeridoo music to play along too!

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Next up was Animal Art. This project aimed to show the way indigenous Australian art shares stories about animals and nature. First, we cut out the provided animal templates and glued these onto thicker art paper. Travis chose the lizard.

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I encouraged him to use paints and markers to make a landscape for his animal. First he just painted water, and declared it done, but then he got more into the idea of adding traditional symbols (swirls, dots, stripes), and filling in the background.

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You can use cotton swabs for the dots for extra fun!

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Little sister wanted in on this project too, although her kangaroo was soon a bit of a mess!

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The add-on with this package was to grow a coral reef, similar in science to a crystal tree we made around the holidays. We read about coral reefs and what makes them so important as an ecosystem, and then Travis helped set up the provided absorbent paper in the stands.

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Mix the provided powder into warm water, then pour into the bottom of each tray. Whoops! One of corals collapsed right away, although perhaps this was a perfect illustration of how delicate these ecosystems are. Within an hour, we saw the first little crystals forming.

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By morning, they were a riotous display of crystal! We almost thought they looked like cauliflower.

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As the final touch, Travis colored in the Australian flag and we added it to the growing collection above his world map.

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Recipe:

To finish our journey, we baked a popular Australian dessert called Lamingtons, a cake coated in chocolate and coconut. I should note that Little Passport’s recipes aren’t as easy to follow as, say, those from Raddish Kids. As a result, a lot of them become mommy projects after a little help from my sous-chef.

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Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain almond milk

For the frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons melted Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 cup plain almond milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  1. To prepare the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup butter and the sugar in a stand mixer until creamy. Add the Ener-G eggs and vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture and 1/2 cup almond milk, beating until combined.
  3. Pour the batter into a 9×13-inch baking dish lined with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 28 minutes; a wooden pick inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then lift out the foil and cool the cake completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge.
  4. Once the cake is chilled, make the frosting: whisk together the melted butter and 1/2 cup almond milk in a large bowl. Whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the powdered sugar, stirring until smooth.
  5. Cut the cake into 2-inch squares. Working with one square at a time, dip in the chocolate frosting, then immediately coat in the coconut. Transfer to a wire rack or pan to set.

Because the frosting was thick and the cake was very delicate, I found it easier to work by hand instead of dipping pieces in on a fork. This got messy, but sure was yummy!

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