At-home resources for kids and parents during Covid-19

To our KiwiCo community:

As parents, we share the same concerns about the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, and the impact it will have on our families. Here at KiwiCo, we asked our team to work from home. Many of us have children who will be home with us for the foreseeable future due to school closures.

We know a lot of you are also trying to find a new normal, including keeping your kids busy at home. So today, we’re launching a resource hub for parents to help support learning at home, with loads of stay-at-home educational activities for every age, tips from teachers on effective remote learning, and kid-friendly content that connects science with their daily lives. To start with, we’re bringing you an explanation of the science of handwashing, to help kids understand why it’s so important. We’re going to be adding new content and resources to the hub regularly. We’ll also be switching up our newsletter to bring you helpful resources more frequently, and you can follow us on Instagram for daily updates.

Please take care of yourself, and reach out if we can help. We’re here to support you and your family during this time. We’re in this together.

Founder & Mom of 3


Egg Experiments to Try at Home

Spring is the season of eggs – whether chocolate, painted or plastic! Eggs are an eggcellent way to eggsplore science (and puns), so we collected our favorite eggsperiments for you to try at home. Since eggs are in short supply in some places, most of these projects are edible or use shells (real and plastic). But if you are stocked up on eggs, save a few for these science eggsperiments! 

Eggheads (Ages 2+)

These little eggheads are an adorable project! Just plant the grass seeds and watch the hair grow. You can even use these eggheads as seed-starter pots because they are biodegradable and full of calcium for your plants! Just like humans, plants need nutrients to grow. Record your observations daily to see how long it takes for the seeds to sprout and grow. What do you observe? 

Learn more: Eggheads

Easter Egg Rocket (Ages 5+)

Create an eggplosive chemical reaction with a plastic Easter egg, fizzy tablet (like Alka-Seltzer) and water! Fizzy tablets contain sodium bicarbonate (also called baking soda) mixed with citric acid, plus some other stuff. When the tablets are dropped in water, the baking soda and citric acid get together and fizz. If this reaction happens inside of an Easter egg, the plastic shell traps the gas inside. As the egg is filled with more and more gas, the pressure inside the egg increases. Eventually, the gas inside the egg pushes hard enough to make the egg pop open and launch!

Learn more: Easter Egg Rocket

Square Egg (Ages 5+)

When you hard boil an egg, molecular chemistry is at work. Eggs are made up mostly of two kinds of molecules: protein and water. The proteins in a raw egg are like twisted strings, floating in a watery soup. When you heat up an egg, the proteins break their bonds and unfold. As they unfold, the proteins make new, stronger chemical bonds between each other. That turns the egg into a latticework of protein, with water trapped in between. Once the boiled egg cools down, the proteins settle and the bonds solidify to make the rubbery egg. When they’re still hot, though, the bonds between the proteins are moldable, kind of like clay. Try it out in this project and mold an abstract egg!

Learn more: Make a Square Egg

Floating Egg (Ages 5+)

Does an egg sink or float in water? What if it does both? In this experiment, make an egg sink and float at the same time! The salt water is saturated with the salt, which makes it more dense. The egg is less dense than the salt water, so it floats to the top. When the fresh water is poured into the jar, it also floats above the salt water. However, the water on its own is less dense than the egg, so the egg doesn’t move. The egg floats at the top of the salt water, but sinks below the fresh water! Experiment further with a hard boiled egg! 

Learn more: Floating Egg

Egg in Vinegar Experiment (Ages 5+)

When you submerge a raw egg in the vinegar, you’ll see bubbles forming on the surface. Those bubbles are full of carbon dioxide – just like the bubbles in a glass of soda. You’re seeing a reaction between a compound in the eggshell (calcium carbonate) and an acid in the vinegar (acetic acid). This reaction creates carbon dioxide (and some other things) and breaks down the eggshell in the process. The membrane underneath the shell doesn’t react, so it’s left behind. Once the shell is completely gone, all that’s left is the flexible membrane, giving you a bouncy “rubber” egg! 

Learn more: Egg in Vinegar Experiment

Glowing Bouncy Egg (Ages 5+)

This experiment is just like the egg in vinegar experiment (above) but the addition of fluorescent ink and a black light makes the egg glow! The vinegar dissolves the egg shell leaving a thin membrane. Since membranes let some stuff pass through (like the water in the vinegar and the highlighter fluid) some of the fluorescent molecules travel into the egg. When you shine a black light on the rubbery egg, the fluorescent molecules glow in the dark. 

Learn more: Glowing Bouncy Egg

Egg Geodes (Ages 9+)

Though geodes may look like ordinary rocks, they are like secret treasure chests! Crack a geode it open, and you may be amazed to find the cavity filled with gorgeously colored crystals. Try this experiment and grow your very own borax crystals in a shell! Experiment with different borax concentrations and see how big your crystals can grow.

Learn more: Egg Geodes

Egg Drop Project (Ages 9+)

When you drop an egg, fall itself doesn’t cause it to crack! When the egg hits the ground and stops, its speed changes very quickly. In physics terms, the egg has a high acceleration. The more acceleration the egg has, the more force it feels from the impact. So a sudden change in speed means a lot of force. But the reverse is also true: the less acceleration the egg has, the less force it feels from hitting the ground. If there’s a way to slow down how quickly the egg’s speed drops to 0 miles per hour, then maybe it could survive the fall AND the stop at the end. Try it out!

Learn more: Egg Drop Project 

Egg-in-a-bottle (Ages 9+)

Impress your friends and family with this simple, quick, and super-cool science trick! You’ll learn how to harness the power of expanding and contracting gasses to suck an egg into a bottle in which it would never normally fit. As the flame burns inside the bottle, it heats up the air around it, causing it to expand. If you saw your egg vibrating slightly, this was because air was escaping from the bottle. When the flame goes out, the air in the bottle cools and shrinks. This is what sucks your egg into the bottle!

Learn more: Egg-in-a-bottle 

How to Keep Your Kids Busy and Get Work Done

To the grownups working, homeschooling, and parenting – we salute you. Keeping kids entertained and engaged is not easy. Father of two and educator, Matthew Jervis sought solutions for this struggle and wrote a book to provide fellow parents with tips, tricks, and activities for keeping kids busy at home.

KiwiCo: Tell us about your book and why you wrote it. 

Matthew Jervis: As an educator, I was teaching hands-on problem solving classes for elementary school kids that included a series of design challenges using random things pulled out of a hat. At the same time, I was a working single parent with kids of my own that I needed to keep busy. I wrote the book because, though I love my kids and want to spend every waking minute with them, the reality is – I can’t. Sometimes Dad has to work, pay the bills, run errands or talk to other adults. My goal in writing the book was to reframe boredom into a series of potential adventures full of fun lessons and goofy games that might actually teach kids to be self-reliant.

KiwiCo: What are some simple tricks you recommend to turn boredom into fun for kids? 

Matthew Jervis: The key is to turn the everyday into something fun and challenging. You want to grab the kids attention in a fun way with things that might encourage them to be excited about participating in household projects like folding laundry! My own dad was a master at being able to get my brother and me to do the right thing. He was the master at gamifying the mundane, making it a learning experience but mostly, just making it really fun!

KiwiCo: The activities are written like recipes with an estimated time for each activity. How did you decide on this format?

Matt Jervis: When you are stuck at home with your kids, time management is everything–so each activity comes with an ideal timeframe. Giving kids an activity or project that buys a comfortable 20 to 30 minutes to finish an email, or simply collect yourself, is essential to the well-being of parents everywhere!

KiwiCo: What are some of your favorite at-home activities?

Matthew Jervis: All of the games, projects and activities in the book rely on common household items. No special equipment required.

  • The All American Junk Drawer – Every household has a junk drawer that is an adventure waiting to happen. For kids 6 and older, pull out the junk drawer (take out sharp objects) and ask your kids to sort the objects in piles to organize. Then give them challenges like: Sort the piles by type of object; color code everything in the drawer like a rainbow; create faces by laying out on a table.
    • Recommended ages: 6+
    • Keeps kids busy for: 30-40 minutes
  • Sock Matching Speed Trials – After many vain attempts to get my kids to fold the laundry, I devised a new tactic. I made a special game of it, a competition if you will (this is best with siblings). Encourage your kids to grab a pen, some paper, and a timepiece and see who can match and fold all the socks the fastest.
    • Recommended ages: 4+
    • Keeps kids busy for: 20-25 minutes
  • Dinner Menus – Helping to plan dinner along with little menus for the family is a great way to keep kids occupied post-homework while giving them something fun to do. Set them up at the kitchen table while you cook and let them create an illustrated list.
    • Recommended ages: 3+
    • Keeps kids busy for: 20-30 minutes
  • Alphabetize It – Wrap some lessons around alphabetizing a collection whether it’s canned foods (for smaller kids), books, or records. Depending on the collection, your kids might stumble across a record to listen to or book to read.
    • Recommended ages: 5+
    • Keeps kids busy for: 20-30 minutes

KiwiCo: Screentime is inevitable with online learning, so what’s your advice for parents who are looking for ways to work in screen-free learning?

Matthew Jervis: The key to getting kids to stop staring at their screens is to encourage them to see what is around them. For the best offline activity, I recommend scavenger and treasure hunts! Getting kids to look for things teaches them to explore, discover, and engage.

If you have access to outdoor space, I recommend the Found Rainbow project where you collect plants or objects by color. All of a sudden, you start seeing this whole rainbow of colors in your yard or out in front of your house; then you collect all your colors and assemble them into  a rainbow spectrum.

Older kids can take photos of things that look like letters like shadows or a tree branch that might arc like a C or swoop like an S. Have them take photos and try to spell out their names. It’s a great way of noticing the world around you, but also noticing how some things actually look like other things 

One time, I pranked my kids by telling them I hid two dollars (but only hid one dollar). They found the first dollar in 15 minutes but spent another hour looking for that second dollar! That bought me the time to write a big report for work. When I finally told them the truth, we had a huge laugh (well, I laughed). It’s been a good family story ever since. 

KiwiCo: Any other tips you can offer parents balancing a new normal at home? 

Matthew Jervis: Most importantly, it’s ok to have a sense of humor. For all of you stressing out that the amount of time you spend with your kids isn’t enough, the truth is that kids sometimes need to learn things on their own. In most cases, kids get bored because they have tapped out of their “idea reserves” and simply require new input. By stopping and taking a moment to switch how we look at each situation, we can offer our kids ideas to turn their everyday tasks into engaging opportunities.

Matt Jervis is the father of two and the founder of Makeitcreativity.com where he develops workshops for kids and adults. Previously he taught at the Academy of Art University and worked as a lead designer at Common Sense Media. His book is titled, How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids: Tricks, Tools, and Spontaneous Screen-Free Activities.

To learn more about Matthew, you can visit his website at makeitcreativity.com or follow him on Instagram @makeitcreativity.

How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids © 2015 by Matthew Jervis. Published by Skyhorse Publishing.

Simple Kitchen Science Experiments for Kids

Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab with these simple science experiments! Get creative using minimal materials from your pantry.

Fizzing Colors

Kitchen Science Experiment: Fizzing Colors

Who says chemistry has to be complicated? You only need three ingredients for this experiment: baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar. When you combine the ingredients, a chemical reaction occurs and results in a bubbling eruption of fizzing color!

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10 Children’s Books that Inspire Resilience

Many kids (and parents) are learning in a whole new way, and all this change can understandably be a struggle. Teaching resilience will help your kids overcome the challenges they’re facing today and build confidence to take on obstacles in the future. Here are some of our favorite books that can help kick start a conversation about resiliency with your kids!

Children's books that inspire resilience
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6 Podcasts for a Screen Time Break for Kids (and Parents)

If your child is learning at home, chances are their classroom time has been replaced with more screen time (check out our list of fun learning websites). And while screen time is inevitable and totally okay, there’s another resource for completely screen-free learning – podcasts! Our recommendations are for kid and adult ears alike, so feel free to play them out loud. And if you don’t see your favorite kid-friendly podcast on the list, shout it out in the comments!

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Fun Activities To Do With Friends And Family Members Over Video Chat

Photo via Shutterstock

Staying home and keeping a safe distance from others means you can’t see your friends and some of your family members in person right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them! Video calls are a great way to stay in touch with loved ones and see each others’ smiles from any distance. Here are some fun ideas to try together the next time you chat.

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How Viruses Spread & Why You Should Stay Home: Explainer for Kids

Staying away from regular activities and friends is plenty stressful even for grownups, and it’s an even bigger challenge for kids to make sense of it all. By sharing the science of how viruses are transmitted, we can help kids to see staying at home as a powerful way to help keep friends and family safe, rather than as something scary or frustrating. 

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If you’re stuck at home right now, you’re not alone! Millions of people in the US and all over the world are canceling classes, parties, and visits to help stop the spread of a new virus. This virus causes a disease called COVID-19. For some people, this disease isn’t much worse than a cold, but it can make others very sick, and there’s no vaccine to prevent it or medicine to treat it yet. That means the best way to keep people safe is to stop them from getting the virus in the first place. Fortunately, there’s something we can all do to help: stay home!

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Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Parents

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, and with all that’s going on, it is especially important to find ways to slow down. Science has shown that mindfulness can have a bunch of benefits for kids and grownups.

  • Reduces stress and anxiety 
  • Increases attention and focus 
  • Promotes positivity, kindness and empathy 
  • Strengthens self-control 
  • Develops problem-solving and decision-making skills
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