Rudey's Room

DIY: Make a Passport for Kids and Explore Your City


“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”


– T. S. Eliot


This summer, the girls are getting their first passports.

But we’re not heading en famille to France.


Not yet.

And these passports won’t be government issued.


Not just yet.

For now, I’m the one working passport control. It’ll be me dating and inking homemade passports with the washable stamps that I ordered on Amazon for under 10 bucks. (Well, they’ll likely be the ones stamping 🙂

We’re traveling locally.

For now, we’re Chicago bound.

But what a place to be. It’s my kind of town (wink).  

I created a mock passport to feed the girls’ curiosity to explore their surroundings – be it Lakeview or Saint-Germain. I’m no graphic artist, so I simply pulled up a Word doc, inserted some lines, added text with a few pops of color et voilà …

My Passport to Chicago Neighborhoods

It’ll do the trick.

I was inspired by Veronica’s 2nd grade class project on Chicago neighborhoods.

In December, every family chose one ‘hood explore. We waved our hands for Little Italy. As a family, we spent a day driving/walking up and down the streets of the Italian neighborhood. The 64 students in her class did the same – a few with Little Italy and others with Greektown, Chinatown, Logan Square, Wicker Park, Edgewater, etc. … There are 77 neighborhoods in Chicago.

In February, the students presented Chicago to the parents. They sang a heart-melting a cappella rendition of “My Kind of Town” and walked us through our city with creative videos, art work, and words.

I was wowed and took notes.

That night I decided that our family would spend the summer checking out Chicago.

I want to travel the world with my family – I truly can’t wait to stamp our passports together. Allons-y!! 

But we also have so much to explore here in Chicago. Our city is full of unique parks, cultural celebrations, world-class museums, neighborhood festivals, and delicious eats.

So this summer, we’re getting international in our own backyard.

We’re starting the passport mid-June. In thinking there are 10 weeks of summer, I figure we’ll spend time in 6 – 10 neighborhoods. It may be less; it could be more. It’s the mindset of exploring I’m after, so we’ll go for fun and see where it takes us.

Eight Neighborhoods of Chicago to Explore and the corresponding countries (some more obvious than others):                                                                                        

  • Andersonville (Sweden)
  • Chinatown (China)
  • Downtown
  • Greek town/West Loop (Greece)
  • Lincoln Square (Germany)
  • Little Italy (Italy)
  • Logan Square
  • Wicker Park

We’re returning to Little Italy because we need to hit up Mario’s. It was closed in January.




It’s a snap to create your own passport. You can do it for Chicago or your hometown.

The Nitty Gritty: Color the city flag, write his/her name, age, and birthday. Attach a picture. I’m planning to attach a school photo because we have extras. You could grab whatever small picture fit or if you wanted to lend a touch of reality, you could get your passport photos taken at Walgreens.

If you print the passport document I created – My Passport to Chicago Neighborhoods – you’ll need to copy pages one and two back to back and pages three and four as well. Make as many copies of pages three and four as the neighborhoods you plan to visit. Then cut the pages in half and fold down the middle. I’m planning to punch holes on the sides and string the pages together with ribbon to finish the passport. Please let me know if you have any glitches or troubles with this.

Plan Together: I have my ideas about what I want to show them/share with them, such as the Picasso in the Daley Plaza in the Loop. But this travel plan is about all of us. I want to integrate all of our interests. I also want to teach them the how to of travel. We’ll use magazines and the Internet to plan the fun. I’m a fan of the Lonely Planet guide to Chicago and of course Time Out Chicago and Chicago Parent.

To Play: In each neighborhood we will play at a park or a pool. Maybe both. Likely both. I’m sure we’ll strike again at the Maggie Daily Park because it’s really just that cool.



Maggie Daley Park


To Check Out:  Many (nay most) Chicago neighborhoods have festivals in the summer. The plan is to stop by these in our chosen neighborhoods. If not a festival, we’ll check out a hot spot. A hot spot is an activity/venue known to the neighborhood, such as in Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square. In Logan Square, I’m excited to spend lots of time on the 606, opening on June 6th.

To Eat: We’re on the hunt for ice creams and frozen ice, but I’d also like to push for a lunch/dinner/snack that’s native to the area. My youngest is picky and my oldest has allergies, but maybe I can work in a stop at Phoenix in Chinatown for Dim Sum.



Veronica at Rosebud in Little Italy.


To Notice: This is the Fun Facts section: What did you see? Smell? Feel? Did you notice a language other than English? They can draw or write.

In each neighborhood, we’ll take pictures. My plan is to document words and photographs of our experience to create a book.

Do you have any thoughts on where we should go or what we should do? I’d love to hear from you …

I’ll check back in with you at the end of the summer with a write up and pics of our adventure and favorite spots.




2 Responses to “DIY: Make a Passport for Kids and Explore Your City”

  1. Cate

    I adore Ping Tom Park in Chinatown. You can pick up the water taxi and take it in the city. They also now have kayak rentals to see the sights.
    I would end your travels with a trip to the sky walk or architectural your.

    • Rudey's Room

      I love it! Thanks Cate. We will do all of those things. And the girls haven’t do the sky walk yet, so that would be a perfect end to our travels. Thanks.


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