This suitcase activity for preschoolers is a collection of souvenirs and trinkets from around the world. It was just the right way to introduce my preschoolers to all the countries we would we “visiting” in our Around the World preschool theme.
See all our preschool themes here!
Suitcase Activity for Preschool Around the World Theme
This suitcase activity can be used in two ways.
For our purposes, I used the activity as a way to introduce my preschoolers to a new theme: Around the World. And with carefully chosen trinkets, it makes am amazing Christmas around the world activity, too!
We huddled around the suitcase and handled the trinkets, the children asking questions as I told stories and facts about each of them. It opened a lot of curiosity for our new preschool theme.
FAQ About Teaching an Around the World Preschool Theme
For preschoolers, the concept of around the world can be a little abstract.
Developmentally, preschoolers are insular. They see others as just like them. They have many similarities and many differences, and both those should be celebrated.
It’s important in an around the world theme in preschool to teach little learners that children live all over the world. You can use a world map or globe to describe this.
Like all well-planned preschool lesson plans, an around the world theme should include literacy and math activities, as well as sensory, art, dramatic play, and even science activities.
It’s important to read plenty of children’s books that talk about other countries and cultures, and even books describing holidays around the world. Be sure to check out our highest recommended children’s book for this theme.
An around the world preschool theme offers so much opportunity to be creative. In this theme, we built pyramids out of paper cups, built the longest wall in our block center, explored foreign money in a sensory bin, and even “visited” a world market in our dramatic play center.
Picture Books for Around the World Preschool Theme
Around the World Suitcase Activity
We took the traditional “pack the suitcase activity” and turned it on its head to make an amazing introductory activity for our around the world preschool theme.
Placing the trinkets all in a suitcase made it feel like we were bringing those souvenirs home, but it also it was a great way to build anticipation for our thematic travels.
The suitcase contained trinkets I’d collected from a trip to Europe, but also some gifts I’d received from foreign friends and family who had also traveled abroad. Before we dove too deep into our Around the World theme, I wanted to share with the children some unusual and fun items from various countries.
The materials are going to depend on what you have on hand. You can use souvenirs from your own travels, or you can go to a store like Cost Plus World Market to find a-likes.
The following are some things I included:
- two silk scarves
- two coin purses, once from Greece and one from Mexico
- a molcajete my husband brought home from Mexico
- a Spanish fan
- a hand carved wooden bird from Holland
- a strand of natural pearls from a friend in Denmark
- a jade bracelet my grandfather gave my grandmother from while he was stationed in Japan
- two hand woven bags from Mexico
- another handbag I purchased from a monk who came to my college
- a trinket of the Eiffel Tower from France
- a trinket of Socrates from Greece
- a trinket of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Italy
How to Set Up the Suitcase Activity for Preschoolers
Grab a small suitcase, or whatever size you need for your trinkets. You’ll want there to be some space so everything can be seen easily, but staged in a way that looks intriguing.
I lined the suitcase with the two silk scarves, and then deliberately arranged the items in a way that looked pleasing.
Introducing the Around the World Suitcase
I began by just allowing the preschoolers to look at the contents of the suitcase.
They were curious and wanted to hold the contents, but that would come soon. I shared with the preschoolers that the trinkets were from all around the world, and part of the fun of traveling is finding things that are new and different to us.
I told them in our new preschool theme that we were going to explore world and pick up some of these trinkets along the way.
At the mention of exploring the world, I showed the children a world map. Then, I invited each student to select an item from the suitcase for me to tell the class about.
One by one, I shared the items with the preschoolers, giving the name and use, and then showed them where it came from on the map. We gently placed it on (or sometimes near) the country of origin.
We were now ready for our travels. My preschoolers had built up so much excitement for our Around the World unit study.
Make This into a Christmas Around the World Suitcase Activity
This activity can also be added to a Christmas around the world preschool unit. Rather than adding trinkets from travels, you can add traditional gifts that children around the world are given at Christmas.
Read this article from CNN for some ideas.
Must-Have Toys for a Preschool Around the World Theme
The toys we offer our preschoolers can make or break a thematic unit. Here are some of our favorite toys we offer for our Around the World preschool theme.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.