Thursday, June 28, 2012

Worldwide Culture Swap: Bermuda

One of the lovely ladies at The Worldwide Culture Swap contacted me to see if we'd like to be a part of a swap. Ummm, YES! I wasted no time in signing up for the standard worldwide swap as well as the mini giveaway swap. Hooray for snail mail field trips!

Even though we are Americans, we currently live in Bermuda, so we decided to represent the island. As usual, I went a little overboard. I just couldn't help myself! I kept thinking of more and more information and things to add. It didn't feel complete to me without it all. I think it's safe to say that this package will definitely give someone a clear idea of what Bermuda is all about. I hope I did my Bermudian friends proud! :)

James and I had a total blast putting this together. I made sure he was an active part of assembling everything and I consulted his opinion wherever needed. I put together all of the paper information and he chose the images for the documents as well as all of the souvenirs. When it was all said and done we addressed the packages and went to the post office together, too. This was a great opportunity to teach him about how the mail system works.

In making these packages James learned a lot about the country we live in, so I decided to make a Bermuda package for ourselves. It'll be a great way for Juliet to learn about Bermuda too and a nice keepsake to have after we move away.

I put a lot of thought into our packages and while I'm no expert, I learned a few tricks of the trade along the way. I've shared them below in the "tips" section after each photo description.

Ok, so here's what's inside:
A flag, stamps, and local currency - the coins are real, but the bills are fake copies.

TIP: check out Google images for money photos. Some are very clear and offer front and back images of the same bill. A fun idea, especially if your group includes small children, is to make games out of things. For example, you could make duplicate color copies of stamps, cut them out in uniform sizes and voila! a matching game has been created. A bingo game would be easy to create, too, and if you're really ambitious you could make some nomenclature cards for older kids.

Brochures featuring local attractions, stickers, a newspaper, an article from a free tourist guide about favorite local spots for children (this was written by a friend of mine!), and a playing card with the map of Bermuda on it.

TIP: a fun and inexpensive souvenir - I bought a deck of cards with an interesting image on them and included one in each package. Also
, visit your local tourist information location - there you'll find lots of FREE brochures and guides, and maybe a freebie or two (that's where I found the crayons!). Be sure to get enough for each package. And don't shy away from guide books - you needn't ship the entire book, (which can quickly add to the weight/cost of the package). Instead, go through the book and tear out certain articles and pages that you think are particularly interesting.

A cedar ornament, a tiny frog, some beach sand and shells (which we collected from the beach ourselves), game ribbons, a little house craft James and I made together, and fact cards explaining all of those things in better detail. There's also a postcard and some tropical fabric (I cut up a little square for each package).

TIP: It's nice to find tactile things to go along with paper information. It's MUCH more interesting to children when they have something they can touch. Also, include internet links where relevant - for example, the tree frogs in Bermuda make a very specific sound, so I included a link to a sound clip of them on YouTube. Appeal to the senses!

A detailed map of the island, a fact sheet, a postcard, and activity pages all of which have to do with the locations around Bermuda. On the right is a set that includes a coaster and has to do with the colorful-ness of Bermuda, in particular our homes and buses.

TIP: include descriptions of things and group like items together instead of just tossing everything into a giant envelope. It may all make sense to you, since you're familiar with it, but to a foreigner it can be overwhelming. Also, here's another fun and money saving souvenir - get a set of four or more interesting and relevant coasters and put one coaster in each package.

More souvenirs: a magnetic bookmark, a pin, a puzzle of the map of Bermuda, a keychain, some pencils, a special box of crayons (these are "Bermuda Colors", a line Crayola made especially for Bermuda), and a bracelet.

TIP: let the shopkeeper know you're putting together a package to send to children around the world. Sometimes, as was the case with us, they'll give you a little discount since you're buying multiples of things. Also, personalize your package - include a letter handwritten by your child, and keep in mind the gender and age of the recipients. For example, in our package, not everyone received a bracelet or pirate stickers. A handmade craft is also a very special and personal gift to include, and most of the time it's very inexpensive for you to make!

More sets. These have to do with the flora & fauna of Bermuda, and the small creatures that we see regularly around the island. I also included a copy and description of my island scavenger hunt.

TIP: It's certainly not a must, but if possible, print your paper information in color - it's much more interesting to look at and people can get a better feel of what they're reading. For example, it wouldn't be as enjoyable to read about the flowers of Bermuda and how bright they are if you're looking at a black and white photo of them. You could include links to internet images if color printing isn't an option for you.

More info packs - these include: Bermuda Art, a poem, National Symbols, local customs and traditions, a few activity pages, information about our family, and a local recipe.

TIP: try to make your package as well rounded and interactive as possible in an effort to help others really become a part of the country you're representing. For example, include a CD (or internet link) of local music, attach your favorite local recipe that the family can make together, a special treat or food mix (if allowable to ship), print out activity pages or a craft for kids to enjoy working on, and a language sheet with local phrases and/or translations.

Well, that's it! What do you think? I hope the receiving families will enjoy our package. We're expecting return packages from Australia; California, USA; Papua New Guinea; Greece; Alberta, Canada; and Slovakia (the latter is a separate and personal swap arranged with one of my lovely readers). We are SO excited to learn more about each of these countries and I can't wait to add our new information to our continent bags. I hope to be able to blog about each package we receive.

These swaps are an excellent way of bringing the world a little closer together. :) I strongly urge all of you - parents of children of all ages, teachers, grandparents, everyone! - to sign up with the Worldwide Culture Swap group. And especially those of you living outside the US as I understand the group is in need of other countries in order to arrange swaps for the US folks (there's only 1 US family per swap and they have TONS of US families already signed up and waiting).

Check out the Worldwide Culture Swap website to learn more or like their Facebook page to see updates.

~Thank you for your comments!~


Anonymous said...

This is so fun! I haven't heard of the Worldwide Culture Swap before... my five year old would love this, he is obsessed with maps/geography :) Thanks!

JRLadies said...

Lovely idea. I had never heard of this. Thanks for featuring it. I just signed up for the US state exchange since I've been focusing on local geography with my kiddos this summer.

mpeachase said...

Lucky families who get your package! Looks great! I am definitely going to look into signing up for this when my son is a bit older!

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Anonymous said...

So, so happy you shared this! I just signed up to do one for our family. And I put in to do the postcard exchange too. How fun! Thanks!

Lori said...

Wow! I just love this idea! You did a fabulous job putting together you're package. I can't wait to see your posts on the packages you receive from the other countries. Thanks for sharing!

Mommy to the Princesses said...

Cute package! Can I say that I am glad you are back to your old website design!

twolittleseeds said...

Hi, thanks for sharing. I saw your comment on fb. I just wanted you to know that I still regularly watch your blog. I used to keep a blog when I homeschooled my son, but now he goes to school I don't blog anymore and I found that the wave of people who read my blog all had kids the same age and they matured and moved on too. However, I still use your blog as my main source of inspiration and one of the very few I continue to read regularly. I still read your archive stuff for ideas for my youngest. I think we are out there still Mari-Ann. Blessings xxxx

Anonymous said...

This is so great, I didn't even know it existed. I am going to look into doing it also. What a cool package you made, whoever gets it will be thrilled!!!

Rachael said...

Such a lovely package and really useful tips too. I love that you put so much thought into it and I bet the families will be over the moon to receive it. x

Counting Coconuts said...

Thanks so much for you comments!! You know I love them!

Anonymous said...

Cool idea, I just signed up too! PS I am glad you switched back to this template. The other one was confusing.


Sara said...

We're signed up with families in the Philippines, Canary Islands, South Africa and Kentucky. :) Thanks for all the great ideas! I'm getting our packages together this week.

Unknown said...

cards are hand made?? i used to send cards from pakistan gifts because of the creativity ;)

Kristen said...

Thanks for posting this! I've asked some local moms whose kids are about my son's age if they would be interested in signing up, too. That way, when everyone receives their packages we can swap again among ourselves.

Aimée said...

Oh Mari-Ann this is so wonderful! I'd love to do something like this! Love your blog and love the fact you went back to your original layout! You're such an inspiration! Keep on blogging!

Counting Coconuts said...

Khcrivello - what a wonderful idea! Aimee - DO IT DO IT DO IT! It's so much fun!

K said...

Love this idea! I cannot wait for my son to be older. I know I could do it now to gather materials for later.. but it would be so much more fun when he was older and able to interact and help build the kit!

Vanda said...

Hello Mari-Ann. I was thinking to join this for a few weeks. Unfortunately, we are from Slovakia and living in Canada and you already have your packages from this destinations.. :-( May I ask you who is your reader from Slovakia? Maybe we know each other :-) And one more thing - I love your blog and all of your ideas. Have a nice day.

Counting Coconuts said...

Vanda, we'd certainly love to do a postcard swap with you, if you're up for that! Let me know: The woman in Slovakia is named Zuzana. :)


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