Playing Pretend To Travel The World

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Activities, Family

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Learning by playing pretend travel

Girl in red blanket, text overlay, playing pretend, travel, explore right at home

Playing Pretend was one of my favorite pastimes as a kid. This week we have a guest author, Nancy Moore from Around The World At The Weekend. Nancy is sharing her wonderful experiences playing pretend as a way to travel around the world with your kids. Why is pretend play important? It develops creativity, confidence and social and emotional skills. Pretend plays teaches us to empathize and to problem solve. Playing pretend is also loads of fun! Give it a try.

ARound the world at the weekend

We have been pretending to travel the world with our young children for over two years now! As history and geography teachers from the UK and New Zealand, we are passionate about exploring other cultures. But finances, jobs and of course global pandemics don’t always allow for real world travel. Here is how to explore Asia without leaving home!


We always look to see if there are places near by which can make our adventures more exciting and allow for lots of outdoor activities. For example when we explored Nepal we climbed to the top of the highest sand dune on our beach to conquer ‘Everest’ and when we visited Japan we went out hunting for Pokemon! It’s really important for me to be fit and active and playing pretend really motivates kids to get out and about!

Girl in asian dress, playing pretend


We love to find festivals from around the world and join in with them. One of my favorite ever was when we lit floating lanterns like they do in Thailand and recreated their famous ‘Loi Krathong’ festival. We also look for local cultural celebrations. Our city of Liverpool has a big Chinese population. It was super fun to go and join in with their new year celebrations! It also meant less planning as lots of the day was really planned for us.

homemade vietnamese dolls


I do love a craft project and from making puppets for Vietnam, to making origami rabbits in Japan – I know my kids love nothing more than me getting out the scissors, glue and glitter and making something creative. The puppets were extra fun as we used them to act out Japanese folk tales! You can scan Pinterest for ideas but I actually really like making my own stuff up! Youtube has some great instructional videos – most useful for origami!


Girl and boy dressed in Hawaiian dance costumes, playing pretend

Ebay is my most favorite place for finding costumes and my little girl loves nothing more than playing dress up! Vietnam had to be my favorite dress up costume, followed by India. I hugely regret not also getting myself a sari too; especially when we found a youtube instructional video teaching us how to do Bollywood dancing! There are amazing bargains out there to be had with a little forward planning as things can take a long time to arrive.


We are lucky enough to have a massive Asian supermarket near to us but we also like visiting restaurants too for an authentic taste of where we are pretending to visit. Liverpool has a huge number of different restaurants – in fact the whole reason we chose to do a pretend trip to Nepal was so we could eat the amazing Nepalese curry from a brilliant local restaurant. Get onto google – your neighborhood might surprise you! We’ve found every cuisine you can imagine and if not then get creative and try cooking something up!

boy and girl pouring liquid into baking pan


As well as eating out we like to try recipes from all over the world and Penny still talks about the peanut brittle from Vietnam and the Nepali Peda from Nepal. Cooking your own food can be better if you are on a budget too, though I often do the less complex versions of a recipe (and thus probably less authentic) so that the kids can join in. I start by looking at the authentic recipes so I know what I’m trying to create and then I google easy versions to make the process more kid friendly.

Movies and books

We are big readers and I love a chance to find a story from the places we visit. Big favorites have been the Magic Paintbrush for China and Cinnamon for India. Disney can come up trumps too with Mulan and The Jungle Book both being excellent choices for our pretend visits. Books and movies are a great way for kids to imagine the country we are visiting, and we have even tried documentaries – though honestly with less success given the age of our children (Freddie was only 2 when we started and he is four now). 

Nancy Moore, Guest Author,

Playing Pretend to Travel the world

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