Little Passports: Kenya

We were off to Africa with Travis’s latest delivery from Little Passports, specifically Kenya. After pinpointing the country on his map, Travis checked out the booklet, including facts about Maasai jewelry, riddles about the country’s wildlife, and info about the capital city of Nairobi.


The included souvenir got a big “wow”: a 7 million year old piece of petrified wood from one of Kenya’s national parks! Travis immediately knew this was a keeper for his treasure box.

Further Activities:

The booklet also included instructions to make a Bao board, a popular game which you may also know as Mancala. We used an egg carton leftover from Easter decorations as the base. Cut off the lid and cut it in half, then tape to the bottom of the carton so the two halves form bins at either end. Time to decorate with markers!

Little Passports helpfully posted the rules for Bao online so Travis and I could enjoy a few rounds! All you need are marbles, stones, or beads for playing pieces.

The website also had beautiful photos from the country, the chance to learn a little Swahili, and a tribal name word search. Although this last was a touch advanced for a first grader, it prompted us to delve deeper into Kenya’s many tribes.

An entry from Little Passport’s blog made it seem that the Kenya kit used to include a tribe mask craft. We found a similar version online to continue the fun: Start with paper plates and cut out eye holes for each. Use torn pieces of magazine or newspaper to shape a nose and mouth.

We gave the plates a coat of brown paint to look like clay, then added stripes in additional paint colors and “hair” from construction paper.


We were initially surprised to see that the included recipe was for chapati, which normally makes me think of India. It was neat to learn that this flatbread is popular in Kenya, as well.


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for cooking
  • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
  1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 cup warm water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add to the flour mixture, then add the remaining warm water and stir to form a soft ,sticky dough.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic. Return to the bowl and let rise for 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Divide the dough into 10 portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, roll into a disc about 1/4-inch thick. Cook in oil in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining dough.

As you can guess, the recipe was time consuming, since we could only cook one chapati at a time in our skillet. It would be far easier if you have a large griddle surface! To be honest, we called it quits about 4 dough portions, which already had taken about half an hour. Still, it was a fun culinary adventure, and we served the chapati with curried lentils and veggies in keeping with the spirit of the meal!

Tofu Pasta Shell Casserole

I love jumbo stuffed pasta shells, but the effort of making them is wasted on my kids since I just need to cut the pasta into smaller pieces. This recipe relies on small pasta shells instead, for a kid-friendly riff on a grown-up favorite.


  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons olives oil
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 (16-ounce) package shell pasta
  • 1/2 cup minced artichoke hearts
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and zucchini; saute for 3 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and cook for 10 minutes, until heated through; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions; set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine the minced artichokes, tofu, and nutritional yeast; mash with a fork until crumbly.
  4. Spoon about 1/2 cup sauce into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with the pasta, followed by the tofu mixture, and add the remaining sauce on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Sorting and Comparing, Two Ways

With Veronika a little under the weather, we were looking for low-key activities that would keep her engaged without much physical effort. Here are two fun ways to play with early toddler math concepts: comparing two or more things; and sorting things according to some characteristic.

First, we played a classic game of Large and Small. I gave her a set of objects from around the house, with one item big and one smaller, including: spoons, crayons, socks, and toy bunnies.

For each, she was always able to select which was bigger…

and which was smaller, with no problem.

Sometimes I mixed it up and used words like “longer” or “shorter”, to throw her a curve ball! This made her pause and think a bit longer before picking which item fit the bill.

You can then encourage your child to sort the objects into two piles, with all the big items to one side and the small items to the other. This led us right into the next game: Sticker Sorting!

This time, I taped up sheets of colored construction paper to the wall that matched a set of dot label stickers. She simply had to decide where each sticker should go.

Sometimes she wanted to cover a piece of paper with every dot in that color, as for favorites like red and purple.

Other colors she was content to put only one or two stickers.

But whether a few stickers or lots, she sorted them correctly by color each time.