How to Practice Gratitude, 10 Awesome Family Projects

Thanksgiving Gratitude Header

In the last few years, gratitude has come to light as an accessible way to increase happiness and even change our brains (thanks neuroplasticity!). Researchers are studying how to best practice gratitude and developing this field to help us better understand how gratitude affects our kids’ brains, bodies, and communities.

With all of that new research, it’s no surprise that so many parents are wondering how their kids can practice gratitude. What games should you play with your child? What awesome projects can you do together to practice gratitude? Parents want to bring gratitude into their family activities beyond Thanksgiving Day or week, but they struggle to find simple and practical ways to keep it up. Below, we’ve collected an updated list of 10 hands-on projects to try at home with your family any time of year!

How to Practice Gratitude

The Tree of Gratitude (Ages 5-9)

Create a gratitude centerpiece. This tree is a simple but elegant way to display what you are thankful for.

gratitude tree DIY for kids

Thanksgiving Jar (Ages 3-9)

Throughout the year, have your kids write or draw what they are thankful for on smooth stones, and drop them into a special jar. At Thanksgiving, pull out the rocks and talk about the things you are thankful for this year.

DIY Thanksgiving Jar for Kids

Gratitude Box (Ages 5-16)

A great use of a simple watercolor technique to create a vibrant and unique gift. Give your mini painting to someone you are thankful for! Awesome idea by Meri Cherry. 🙂

gratitude-box-kids-DIY-Kiwi-Crate-thanksgiving

Gratitude Collage (Ages 3-5)

This Gratitude Collage template helps kids learn how to express their gratitude. The prompts and illustrations are a super helpful way to teach younger kids how to express their gratitude. These paper gratitude blankets will hang nicely in your living room!

Thankfulness Collage

Pumpkin of Gratitude (Ages 7-16)

How to practice gratitude with pumpkins: this project is simple, but it turns out beautifully. Each member of your family can make their own pumpkin to display on the dinner table.

gratitude-pumpkin-kids-DIY-Kiwi-Crate-thanksgiving

Gratitude Chain (Ages 5-8)

It’s a great, kid-friendly project to remind the people around you to be grateful for the little things in life! You can hang your gratitude chain by tying strings around both ends of your chain and taping them to the wall. We also love the idea of using the garland as tabletop decor!

gratitude-chain-kids-DIY-Kiwi-Crate-thanksgiving

“We Love You Because…” Treasure Hunt (Ages 2-9)

Show your neighbor, friend, or family how grateful you are to have them in your life with a little treasure hunt. Busy lives and full days, means we often forget to stop and express how grateful we are for each other. This treasure hunt is a fun and heart-warming way to say thank you for the simple things we often take for granted.

gratitude-scavenger-hunt-kids-DIY-Kiwi-Crate-thanksgiving

Thankful Journal (Ages 2-9)

Collage the outside of a journal you make yourself or have around the house. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to jot down what you are grateful for. It’s a simple way to lift spirits and reminds us to celebrate the small things in life.

gratitude-journal-kids-DIY-Kiwi-Crate-thanksgiving

We are Thankful for the Earth (Ages 2-9)

Go for a nature walk with your kids. Keep track of what brings you feelings of gratitude along the walk. When you return home, illustrate a poster with those items: sunshine, birch trees, lakes, and more!

Thankfulness Notes DIY

Kindness Wreath (Ages 3-9)

A kindness wreath is a great way to encourage kids to create moments other people will be grateful for and to develop a keen awareness for the kindness around them! A ribbon is added to a wreath each time a family member points out an act of kindness. When the wreath is full, celebrate as a family and move it to your front door!

kindness-wreath-for-kids

How do you practice gratitude?

Let us know in the comments below! A big thank you to everyone who made it to the bottom of this blog post, and for continuing to engage your kids in hands-on learning through KiwiCo projects and/or in other ways. 🙂

‘Tis the Season for KiwiCo!

7 Reasons to Make KiwiCo Your Go-To Holiday Gift Solution

Are you scrambling to find a holiday gift for the kids in your life — a gift that inspires fun and learning? That will please the kid (most importantly!) but also their parent too? 

We may be a little biased, but we think we have a solution for even your toughest customers. Our crates are packed full of age-appropriate awesome projects and activities that encourage engaging exploration and hands-on play. We offer a wide range of crates for all ages and interests, from infants and toddlers to teenagers (and beyond!) You can also choose projects aimed at specific interests, such as art or engineering, chemistry or crafting, geography or robots. Most importantly, the crates offer old school fun.

Whether you are a parent,  grandparent, auntie, uncle or family friend, here are some reasons you can’t go wrong with a gift from KiwiCo this season:

  1. When you give a crate from KiwiCo, you are giving the gift of self-confidence, curiosity and innovation to your kids. KiwiCo inspires kids to see themselves as makers and to develop the creative confidence to change the world (for real!)
  2. You are giving the gift of quality time to yourself and your kids. With our hectic weeks and very long days, it can be difficult for us as parents to find time to sit down with the kids and do a fun activity (trust us, we know!)  Our crates are thoughtfully designed to make learning playful and fun for both you and your child.
  3. You are giving the gift of ease and convenience to yourself (or the lucky recipient’s parents!) All of our projects come with everything you need in the box! No last-minute trips to the store, no frantically checking the obligatory kitchen junk drawer for batteries, paper, or scissors. Everything needed is in the box! Plus you can order the box TODAY and select the first date when the crate gets delivered. So you can cross gift-giving off of your list.
  4. You can still have a gift to put under the tree or to give in person. With our service First Crate Ship to Me, you can have the first crate shipped to you so you can deliver a physical gift for the holidays.
  5. You are giving a gift that keeps giving. Long after the craziness of the holidays is over (and some gifts have, sadly, been forgotten/broken/lost), your kid will continue to enjoy a monthly delivery of their crate!
  6. We have a gift for ALL price points… You can find 3-, 6- and 12-month subscription terms, as well as plenty of single projects (including stocking stuffers) for sale in the KiwiCo store.
  7. …and for EVERY age, from infants to teens (and even kids at heart!) No more visiting multiple stores and websites or getting lost in the Google rabbit hole of searches for “best gifts for 5 year olds, 9 year olds, 13 year olds, 15 year olds, etc….” We can help you check off literally every kid on your list.

But don’t just take our word for it.

“This is one of the best gifts I’ve ever found for my grandson. The crates come monthly and he loves to do the projects. They are age appropriate and he can do them by himself. Science, art and more.” -Lorna B.

“So in ♥ with KiwiCo! This is THE gift I recommend to everyone I know with kids in their lives.” – Tracy T.

“I LOVE these crates. My kids have a great time and we spend family time together doing them. Great memories made” – Stacey W.

KiwiCo has the perfect solution for young scientists, creatives and innovators! We’ll help you find a gift that inspires curiosity and learning all year long.

Get your holiday shopping done today at KiwiCo.com!

Introducing Maker Crate: Projects to Inspire Artists and Creatives

Maker Crate art project for teens

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Maker Crate — our newest line for teens and beyond. Maker Crate will provide you with all the tools and instruction to tap into your creativity, learn new techniques, and make something beautiful… and useful.

Our mission in launching Maker Crate is to deliver an experience that will help you build creative confidence to turn artistic visions into design realities.  From creating a macrame plant hanger and clay bowls to crafting a punch-needle pillow to spruce up a room, or a terrazzo-style tray to store essentials — every crate includes projects that are both imaginative  and functional.

Maker Crate Plush Pillow art project

Not only will makers learn new techniques and tools, they will learn real-world applications and the history behind each art form.  Whether you are 14 or 104 years old, a first-time crafter or an experienced maker, each crate is a chance to experiment, draw inspiration and make something to treasure or give to someone special.

Lamp project Maker Crate

If you’re familiar with our other lines, you will find some unique aspects to Maker Crate:

  • Maker Crate’s step-by-step instructions are presented exclusively through online video tutorials, to make learning new techniques more visual, more accessible (and maybe even more fun!)
  • With an emphasis on more sophisticated techniques, Maker projects are more in-depth and will likely take longer to complete. We’ve also included materials for future projects so that long after the first project is finished, you can continue to experiment with other designs. Like Eureka Crate, Maker Crate starts at $24.95/month (with free shipping.)
Painting Art Project for Teens

We know first hand the joy that comes with experimenting with new artforms and learning a new craft. We’re here to help makers feel more confident in trying new things in a way that is encouraging, convenient, and seriously fun! We can’t wait to see what you make!

Check out Maker Crate and all the rest of our lines at www.kiwico.com.

How to Make a Paper Snowflake

Completed DIY Paper Snowflake

Taking on the Snowflake Challenge

Is the young crafter in your family fascinated by snow and the holiday season? If so, then your child may enjoy delving into the snowy side of Christmas crafts. Learn how to make a paper snowflake by following these 10 easy steps. By the end, you’ll have an intricate snowflake that will bring creativity and holiday spirit into your home!

Step 1: Gather Your Paper Snowflake Materials

Materials to Make a Paper Snowflake, Scissors, Pencil, Paper, Protractor

Paper Snowflake Craft Materials

  • White paper (letter-size)
  • Scissors (safety scissors are optional)
  • Protractor or ruler (optional)
  • Pencil (optional)

(The materials listed above are enough for one large snowflake. If you want to turn your ceiling into a fantastical snowflake skyline, repeat this project with more paper sheets!)

Step 2: Create a Snow Crystal Square

Starting Piece of Paper for Snowflake
Paper Snowflake folding process

Every paper snowflake starts off in a basic square shape. Take a sheet of letter-size paper and fold a corner down to align the shorter end with the longer end. The folded part will form what’s known as an isosceles triangle. Now use scissors to trim the excess paper below the triangle shape.

(Side note: The excess paper should measure 2” x 8.5”, in case you want to make sure you’re following along correctly! It isn’t needed for this project, so you can add it to the scrap bin or recycle it.)

Step 3: Fold and Refold

Triangle folding arts & crafts process

Keep your paper folded in a triangle shape. Now fold the large triangle again in half. This will make a smaller triangle. Try your best to make clean and straight creases!

Step 4: Divide and Conquer Your Triangle!

Dividing and measuring with a ruler or protractor

Because real life snowflakes are symmetrical, we’ll need to do some careful measuring to create a symmetrical paper snowflake of our own. Symmetry is when two or more parts of a thing are identical. Think of butterfly wings, matching socks, and spiderwebs — they all have parts that match.

Now, the smaller triangle needs to be divided. The longest side of the triangle should measure 8.5″ long. Use a ruler and pencil to mark the middle of that side (at 4.5″ from each end). Use the ruler to draw a line from the apex of the triangle (the corner opposite the longest side) to the mark you made.

Step 5: To the Left

Folded paper triangle

Now it’s time to get back to folding. As mentioned, snowflakes have symmetry. Folding your triangle correctly creates a kind of symmetry, a uniformity, a balance to the shape. Take the left side and fold it so the left edge is aligned with the middle drawn line.

Step 6: Now to the Right

Paper Snowflake Triangle double-folded

Repeat this with the right side and fold it over the middle section as well. The paper should look like an arrow pointing downward.

Step 7: Flip it Forward

Once the folding is done, flip the arrow shape over to see a horizontal edge at the top. No two snowflakes are alike and you’re able to put your own unique creative spin to yours!

Step 8: Taking a Cut Above the Rest

Cutting your Paper Snowflake
Trimmed paper snowflake in a right-triangle

Take scissors and cut along the horizontal edge. After you’re done cutting, fold the triangle in half one last time. Now, the triangle is a right triangle, which means one corner of the triangle is a 90 degree angle.

Step 9: Shape it ‘Til You Make It

Craft shaping with scissors
Forming the inner edges

Make sure to keep the paper folded and begin to cut out different shapes from the edges. Beginners can start with triangles, but you can also explore squares, rectangles, or rounded shapes — get creative! 

(Tip: Never cut all the way across the triangle from end to end as it will cut your snowflake in half.)

Step 10: Unveil the Paper Snowflake Masterpiece!

Paper Snowflake Final Assembly

Now it’s time to unfold the paper. What kind of snowflake will appear? If you folded along with the steps, it’ll be a 6-pointed snowflake, but then again, half the fun is in the mystery of the reveal! Remember that every snowflake is different. Your snowflake should feature a symmetrical design, just like real life snowflakes. See how many different patterns you can create. Try adjusting the project to create bigger or smaller snowflakes to decorate and create a true winter wonderland.

Looking for the perfect present for a creative kid? Stop by our Holiday Gift Guide for a full list of STEM and art gifts for all ages!

DIY Snow Globe | Family Project

Science of Snow Globes

DIY Snow Globe Completed

DIY snow globes are a fun way to use arts & crafts to learn about density, displacement, and viscosity. A typical snow globe contains some sort of liquid, plus a material to act as the “snow”. When shaken and flipped, the “snow” makes its way to the bottom – just like a snowfall! The snowfall inside a globe looks more realistic when it falls gently down from the top. The inventors of the snow globe swear by their secret snow recipe for creating realistic scenes inside their globes. Brainstorm some ideas for what materials to use for your snow recipe. Choosing the right material for snow is important, as is the liquid it falls through. Glitter is common. What about confetti? Styrofoam? Soap shavings? Sawdust?

Setting up your Workspace

For both experiments and projects, keep an organized and tidy work space to be able to observe results and record observations. 

  • Read through the instructions for the entire project. 
  • Gather materials for each step as needed.
  • Find a secure place to allow the globe to cool or cure without disturbance. 

DIY Snow Globe Materials

DIY Snow Globe materials before assembly

Start by asking kids what materials might be needed to create a snow globe.. Brainstorm ideas for what kinds of objects can be used to create a wintery scene inside the globe. Old toys and recycled materials are good options, as well as polymer clay which can be used to construct a unique scene. 

  • Glass jar with a lid 
  • Polymer clay
  • Polymer clay glue
  • Aluminum foil
  • Toys, dollhouse miniatures, or other recycled material for creating the scene inside the globe
  • Hot glue gun
  • Clear nail polish
  • Distilled water
  • Glycerin (available at drug stores)
  • Glitter of different sizes and other potential materials for snow
  • Waterproof silicone sealant (from a hardware store)

Getting Started

In order to let all the parts of this project properly dry and cure, this DIY snow globe project may take several days to complete. Throughout the project, there are two quick experiments that can be done at any point to boost the science fun and learning behind the snow globes.

Quick Experiment 

Learn about viscosity (how easily liquid flows) and density (how compact a material is) in this kitchen experiment.

Materials

  • Jars
  • Water
  • Glycerin
  • Materials for “snow” (glitter, confetti, styrofoam, etc.) 

Instructions

  • Place two jars side by side. Put a tablespoon of the same snow material in each jar.
  • Fill both jars with distilled water so that they’re nearly full. 
  • Add a ½ teaspoon of glycerin to only one jar. 
  • Tightly close the jars with lids and have kids shake up both jars to see which combination does a better job of recreating falling, drifting snow.
  • Note any interesting observations. Is the “snow” falling at the same rate in the two jars? If you used material in varying sizes (like cut up styrofoam), do some pieces seem to be falling faster or slower than others? Why do you think this is?
  • What happens when you add more glycerin to the jar containing the water and glycerin mixture? Add more glycerin into the jar in ½ teaspoon increments, recording the best amount for realistic snowfall.

The Science Involved

What’s going on? Adding glycerin to the water increases the viscosity of the mixture, meaning it flows more slowly. This ultimately gets in the way and slows down the falling snow pieces, which is why the same snow material might fall slower in the glycerin-water mixture than plain water. Smaller pieces still move faster than larger pieces, which get more encumbered.

Density plays a part as well. Density means how much something weighs for a given volume of it. Glycerin is denser than plain water, so a glycerin-water mixture will also be denser. Materials with a much greater density than the surrounding mixture fall faster, while materials with less density or the same density fall slower or not at all.

Creating good snowfall requires adding viscosity and density to water with glycerin and picking a snow material with a similar density to the liquid. Record observations and save the recipe for the best snow material (maybe it’s a combination of materials?) combined with the right mixture of glycerin and water. 

The DIY Snow Globe Scene

DIY Snow Globe gluing bottom attachment

Create a fun, wintery scene to affix to the inside of the jar lid. Remember, the scene should be narrow enough to fit through the mouth of the jar and short enough to comfortably fit inside the jar when closed.

Materials

  • Aluminum foil
  • Polymer clay
  • Bake & bond polymer glue
  • Clear nail polish
  • Hot glue gun

Instructions

  • Create a Base
    • Tightly ball up a sheet of aluminum foil. 
    • Roll out a sheet of polymer clay to wrap around the aluminum foil. 
    • This creates a raised base inside of the globe where you can glue on found and recycled items or mini polymer sculptures.
  • Use polymer clay to sculpt winter and holiday objects within your DIY snow globe. Brainstorm objects to sculpt: candy canes, snow men, present boxes, Christmas trees, etc.
  • Test the scene to make sure it will fit in the globe by gently placing the jar over the items. 

Baking & Sealing 

Polymer clay needs to be baked before going inside the DIY snow globe. Gather up the clay items for baking.

  • Clay items can be glued together with polymer glue before going into the oven. 
  • Bake the clay wrapped aluminum foil base and any polymer pieces at 275 degrees for 20 minutes. 

After baking

  • Let the clay cool completely.
  • Once cooled, plastic toys and other items can be hot glued to the base. Parents should be in charge of the hot glue gun. 
  • Coat the entire scene with clear nail polish to protect it.
  • Leave the coated scene for 48 hours to cure completely. 

Quick Experiment 

Learn about water displacement in preparation for the final snow globe assembly. Water displacement is a fun way to gauge how much volume, or space, an object takes up. It’s usually measured by dropping a solid object into a container of water and tracking how far the water level rises. 

Materials

  • Jar
  • Water
  • Any collection of objects that will fill the jar in increments: marbles, rocks, small toys, wooden beads
  • Towel & baking sheet or other tray to keep water contained 

Experimenting with Water

Make a guess about what will happen to the water when objects are dropped into the jar. How many marbles will it take to get the water to the top of the jar?

  • Fill the jar halfway with water. Place a towel on the baking sheet or tray and place the jar on top.
  • On a piece of paper, guess how many marbles are needed to get the water to the top of the jar.
  • Begin dropping marbles into the jar.
  • Keep a tally for each of the marbles placed into the jar.
  • Once the water reaches the top, count the tally marks. How close was the guess? Is it more or less or equal to the original guess? 

With this experiment, you’re measuring the volume of the marbles. When the marbles sink in water, they displace – or push – the water upward. The amount of water they push is always equal to the marbles’ volume, so if you tracked the rise in water, you just successfully measured their volume! This same principles are used to weigh things like giant ships that would otherwise be super difficult to put on a scale.

Final Assembly

Bring all the pieces together to create a realistic and lasting DIY snow globe.

Materials

  • Jar with lid
  • Sealed scene (on polymer clay base)
  • Water & glycerin mixture
  • Snow
  • Hot glue gun
  • Silicone waterproof sealant
  • Towel
  • Baking sheet or tray (to catch overflow of water)

Instructions

  • Using the hot glue gun, adhere the snow mound to the inside of the lid. Dry test the fit to make sure the jar will still fit over the scene. 
  • Place the jar right side up on a towel on a baking sheet. Don’t forget about water displacement! Water will flow out of the jar as the globe is assembled, thanks to the space the snow mound takes up.
  • Scoop snow material into bottom of the jar, following your favorite combination of materials from the Quick Experiment.
  • Pour in the water and glycerin mixture to the top of the jar.
  • Around the lip of the jar, put a line of waterproof silicone sealant so the jar will seal shut and won’t leak.
  • Tightly screw the lid onto the jar. 
  • Using the towel, wipe off excess water and silicone from the outside of the jar. 
  • Give the globe a good shake!
DIY Snow Globe final edition

14 Creative Thanksgiving Traditions For Kids

Thanksgiving Turkey Bowling Tradition for Kids

Over the years we’ve asked our community about their family Thanksgiving traditions — and got hundreds of responses! We loved them all; these were our favorites. These Thanksgiving traditions for kids are perfect for involving them in the festivities, keeping them engaged…and teaching them the real meaning of thankfulness.

Thankful Slip

Thanksgiving gratitude slips and notes

We make one “Thankful Slip” (alternating red and green construction paper slips) for each person on each night of November. We do it as a family at the dinner table each night, we discuss what it is that we are thankful for and why (even the toddler participates, we’ve been very surprised at the sweet things she has “written” on her slips so far). Then we put our slips into our Thankful turkey (a milk jug turkey my teenager made when she was in preschool). On Thanksgiving day we pull out the slips and turn them into a Christmas chain for our tree. It brings the thankfulness into the next holiday season. —Desirae

Thanksgiving Games

On Thanksgiving Day, we host the Turkey Games. Everyone is split into teams with color sashes like the Cranberries, Green Beans, and Blue Potatoes. Then, we compete in fun games like wind-up toy races, pin the gobbler on the turkey, etc. It’s basically a bunch of games and friendly competition amongst our family and friends of all ages. As the table is being set and Thanksgiving dinner is cooking, it’s a really fun way to spend time together.   Our family loves Turkey Bowling. My kids have a blast creating and playing this DIY Thanksgiving game. Plus, the scoring brings a little math and learning to the fun. Strike!–Marianne

Nature Mandalas

Before dinner we all go on a walk in the woods and collect branches, leaves, pods and other natural materials. Then we bring all the materials back to the house and make Thanksgiving nature mandalas.  We begin by placing all of the materials in piles and then sorting by color and texture. Then we make circles in color gradients. We love how this ritual connects us to the season and to each other–Peter

Art Turkeys

We put out paper supplies and encourage everyone to make a special art turkeys.  Teams are encouraged! Then we parade through the house with our turkeys and vote for the ones we love the most. We been doing this for years and now we have beautiful collection. Each turkey reminds of the people who made them. –Celia

Turkey Talks

A week before the holiday we research a topic we are passionate about–it could be as simple as a type of animal or more complex like a historical subject. Then at dinner we take turns presenting our stories.  We call these “Turkey Talks.” It’s lots of fun and we all learn something new.–Leslie  

Magic Tricks

For one of our Thanksgiving traditions for kids: we taught our kids a few magic tricks, which they perform at the beginning of the meal and again before dessert. They love it, and it gives them an incentive to sit at the table. —Angel

Family Placemat Project

Each family member makes a placemat by coloring their name and a few simple things they enjoy. After 15 min, it’s passed to the left and that family member draws a picture and says what they are most thankful for about you. Every 15 minutes, pass again until you have your own back and you have pictures from the whole family about why you are special to them. We use them at dinner to remember that family is our greatest gift. —Beverly

Paper Bag Costumes

The kids work on a play and make costumes out of paper bags and markers. We have feathers to decorate headdresses. It takes them a while to get ready. Then we have dinner. Then we get to have a show with our dessert. A win for everybody. The kids really enjoy it. Each year the production gets bigger! —Teresa

The Candy Corn Game

Everyone in the family has five candy corns placed at their spot at the Thanksgiving table. At the end of the meal we go around and everyone shares five things they are most thankful for, one for each candy corn. I am a teacher and I have started doing this with my students (preschoolers and kindergarteners) on the last day of school before Thanksgiving break. They take it very seriously. It is sweet to hear them and often, in listening to others, they/we are reminded if more we are thankful for. —Meredith

Tree of Gratitude

Tree of Gratitude Thanksgiving Tradition for Kids

Every Thanksgiving holiday, we have a family tradition where each of us writes down what we are thankful for. Typically, we just jot them down on some post-it notes and read them out loud, but this year, we wanted to create a centerpiece of gratitude. This tree is a simple but elegant way to display what we are are thankful for. Going forward, the tree will be a part of our holiday tradition.

(Try our Tree of Gratitude project!)

Wooden Hearts and Leaves

We travel to Portland and visit family. With seven children under 12 in one house for three days, we keep it really simple and eat lots of leftovers after the big day! We have been writing what we are thankful for on little wooden hearts and leaves (from the craft store) since the beginning ten years ago and now we have quite the bowlful. It’s so adorable to read what the little ones said years ago 🙂 —Katja

A Thanksgiving Toast

We buy bottles of sparkling cider and each kid gets to use grown-up wine glasses because it’s special. They each toast reasons for being thankful and then take sips after each toast. Pinkies out! —Angie

Coloring Table Project

We have a toddler so we get to intro some new Thanksgiving traditions for kids. I’m working on some little felt leaves so that every year we can each add a message to one and then over the years I will have a thankfulness tree to frame. Also, we covered our table with Kraft paper for coloring last year to help keep the kids busy, and let them help cook! Having them involved with the food means they will actually eat it, too! —Joanna

Donating Dog Food

Around Thanksgiving we’ve begun a new tradition of finding a way to give back to our community (in other ways than just donating cash). This year, we decided to give back by donating dog food to our local shelter. We talk about what we’re thankful for and try to help those who are less fortunate (even our four-legged friends!). —Janice

More Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids

More Thanksgiving traditions for kids

We hope you have the opportunity to try some of these traditions and have some fun! For more Thanksgiving traditions for kids, along with crafts, activities, and recipes, visit our Thanksgiving Crafts For Kids list!

Reindeer Food Recipe: A Fun Holiday DIY

Complete Reindeer Food Recipe with Kibble

It’s impossible to pinpoint the source of the magic of the holidays, because it’s never just a single thing that makes the season feel special. The culmination of family, tradition, and yes, presents, come together to make it the most wonderful time of the year. With kids on winter break, coming up with traditions, like a reindeer food recipe, that keep them engaged while inspiring that holiday magic is a win-win. Especially for parents who are working overtime as members of Santa’s home-brigade of elves.

Reindeer Food is a cute tradition that will engage kids and inspire the magic of the season. These are two separate recipes, one is meant for reindeer to eat, not kids. The other is a snack for kids and Santa’s elves who might need a sugar fix.

What Do You Feed Reindeer?

Reindeer Food Recipe Ingredients

First, gather together ingredients & supplies for the reindeer food. During the holidays, many of the ingredients will already be in the pantry, and there’s always the option of grabbing more specialized ingredients from the store. 

Reindeer Food Recipe

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Brown sugar
  • Red & green sugar crystals or sugar with food coloring
  • Optional: edible glitter
  • A jar, sandwich bag or other container

Is This Really What Reindeer Eat?

Santa’s reindeer need different food than the reindeer of the arctic. Non-magical reindeer in the arctic eat a lot of lichen, when available they eat the leaves from trees like willow and birches. They’ll also eat grass when they can find it.

Fun Facts about Reindeer

Reindeer Eating
Photo by: Orna Wachman
  • There are 2 million reindeer worldwide. Aren’t you glad you’re only making food for Santa’s nine? That’d be a lot of marshmallows.
  • Reindeer migrate to summer and winter habitats, covering up to 3,000 miles in a year. This is more than any other land mammal. They’re the perfect animal to make it around the world in a single night.
  • They have wide hooves for walking through snow, Santa’s reindeer need their hooves for landing on rooftops without falling off. 
  • Their knees make clicking noises so during blizzards they can hear other members of the herd. Santa’s reindeer also wear bells to hear each other.

Mixing Up Reindeer Food

Reindeer Food Mixing Process

Once you’ve selected your magical ingredients for Reindeer Food, get a large mixing bowl and pour all the ingredients in. You can use as much or as little of each of the magic ingredients as you’d like, depending on what you think the reindeer need. 

  • Oats: the reindeer need oats for strength and energy to fly all the way around the world on Christmas Eve. 
Christmas Oats
  • Marshmallows: keep the reindeer light & fluffy so they can prance through the air. 
  • Brown Sugar: keeps their fur thick and soft to keep them warm in the winter sky. 
  • Red & Green Sugar, or Edible Glitter: magic fairy dust so they can fly through the night sky. 
Red Dyed Sugar

Add your festive mix to a sandwich bag or clear jar, hand decorated with ribbons, glitter or drawings, and you’re all set for a visit from Santa’s furry friends!

Reindeer Food Final Preparations

What to do with Reindeer Food

If you’re establishing a new family tradition, there are a lot of ways to use reindeer food. 

  • Sprinkle on the ground in the backyard or front yard. The ingredients are safe for birds and squirrels. Edible glitter and sugar will dissolve. Don’t use real glitter for food going outside.
  • Leave next to Santa’s cookies for him to feed to the reindeer.
  • Share with family members and friends.

Reindeer Food Kids Can Eat

While magic reindeer food isn’t for kids to consume, you can also make this “Reindeer Kibble” for people to eat around the holidays. 

Reindeer Kibble Ingredients

  • 9 cups crispy cereal squares
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup red & green sugar crystals 
  • (optional) 2 tbsp edible glitter 
  • Large Ziplock bag.

Directions for Making Reindeer Kibble

This recipe requires using heat & melted chocolate, so parents should help out with the cooking parts. Kids can help with mixing & stirring the kibble together. This is food for people, and shouldn’t be put out on the lawn with the magic food!

  • Pour cereal into a large mixing bowl. 
  • Pour confectioners sugar, edible glitter and red & green sugar crystals into the Ziplock back and set aside.
  • In saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate chips and peanut butter together. Stir continuously. 
  • When melted & well mixed, pour the melted mixture into the large bowl over the cereal. Using a spatula, kids can help stir until the cereal is well coated. 
  • Scoop the coated cereal into the ziplock bag and seal shut. Shake the bag until the cereal is well coated. 
  • Whatever isn’t eaten immediately, store in an air-tight container.

On Christmas Eve, kids can leave a bowl of Reindeer Kibble next to Santa’s cookies for him to eat as well! Santa’s home-brigade elves can snack on Reindeer Kibble to power through last minute present wrapping binges. Kids will enjoy projects like the reindeer food recipe year after year, and will hopefully do someday with their own kids, to make the holidays feel extra magical.

Reindeer DIY Guide

For more holiday fun, check out a few of our other awesome reindeer DIYs:

Or visit our awesome Holiday Projects & Crafts list for some interactive gifts for kids!

Christmas Crafts for Kids: 11 Fun Projects

Christmas Crafts for Kids Header

Ready for some holiday cheer? You can celebrate Christmas in all its festive glory with Christmas crafts for kids that activate the imagination and create memorable moments. Make this holiday special with activities that bring all that’s wonderful about the winter season into your home!

Gift Ideas for Creative Crafters

How do you encourage creativity in your gifted crafters this Christmas season? There’s no better way to do that than to help them discover fun, hands-on projects that they can complete with little assistance! They’ll find their own spark of imagination and merry-making while producing fun crafts to keep their season brighter than ever! Below are some fantastically festive craft ideas that can help your kids express themselves and their talents in fascinating ways!

Sweet Treat Crafts

Your child can make the holidays extra delicious for themselves and their loved ones. Handmade themed treats are great pass-it-on crafts that any sweet tooth will enjoy. Below are two delicious Christmas crafts for kids that make gift-giving during the season special and unique!

  • Rudolph the Red Nose Candy Cane
  • Marshmallow Christmas Ornament

Rudolph the Red Nose Candy Cane

Pipe Cleaner Antlers - Fun Holiday Project

Pipe cleaner antlers, a red pom-pom nose, playful ribbon bow ties, and a pair of eyes can transform a generic candy cane into one of Santa’s famous flying helpers! Your Christmas elf’s gift-making talents will glow brighter than Rudolph’s legendary nose when they try their hand at crafting Rudolph the Red Nose Candy Cane for some high-flying Christmas adventure!

Marshmallow Christmas Ornament

Marshmallow Christmas Ornament DIY

The holidays are the best time to feel stuffed! Besides the decadent treats that find their way to your home, a stuffed ornament filled with mouthwatering marshmallows and a painted-on snowman face can really stir up some holiday appetite. Your young artist can share their finesse in face-painting while embracing the sweetness of a heartwarming craft.

Paper Christmas Crafts for Kids

How can your handy helper add their own touch of holiday decor and cheer around the house? This season, make them feel like the best elf in town by showing them a few simple papercraft projects that will transform walls into festive galleries – displaying their own handmade Christmas creations.

  • Clothespins and Christmas Trees
  • Cereal Box Wreath
  • Puzzle Piece Ornament
  • Christmas Elf Hands Wreath

Clothespins and Christmas Trees

DIY Cloth Christmas Crafts for Kids

The clothespin and Christmas tree project is a truly quick and easy Christmas craft! Some glitter glue, beads, stickers, buttons, lace, or string (garland) can turn triangle trimmed cardstock into vibrantly decorated trees to celebrate the season. Clothespins or wooden pegs hold the tree (or multiple trees) upright. And tada! Your crafty kiddo just designed a holiday centerpiece for any dining table set!

Cereal Box Tissue Wreath

DIY Tissue Christmas Wreath

Small square cutouts of tissue paper, a wreath shape cereal box cutout, pencil heads, and some glue are all it takes to create a green tissue paper wreath! Use the eraser of a pencil to push the tissue paper onto the glue dotted cut out until it’s full of festive paper art!

Puzzle Piece Ornament

Got spare puzzle pieces? If you do, your child has an ornament opportunity in progress! They can paint the puzzle pieces with any design they choose, form candy canes, wreaths or other holiday shapes and attach them to a piece of cardstock or cardboard to embrace their puzzling persona! A quick ornament that just fits!

Christmas Elf Hands Wreath

It’s all hands on deck, or in this instance tons of handprint cutouts in alternating Christmas colors! Your child’s helpful hands will be the focal point of a Christmas wreath as they glue their hand tracing cutouts in a circle of green and red. After they’ve finished the circle, they can add a bow to finish the piece!

Simple Holiday Crafts for Kids

Need some quick prep Christmas projects to do on the fly? These fast & easy Christmas crafts, which make kids go holly-jolly, are the way to go.

  • Button Wreaths
  • Tie On Trees
  • Pine Cone Christmas Tree
  • Give the Reindeer a Hand-Print
  • Fill-It-Up Grinchy Ornament

DIY Button Wreath Ornaments

DIY Button Wreath - Christmas Crafts for Kids

Can button collecting be a craft project waiting to happen? Of course, it can! Have your crafter form a circle with floral wire or string and slide on different shades of green or red buttons to display an ombre look. Then attach a burlap ribbon or velvet ribbon to the top to add some rustic elegance to the ornament.

Tie On Trees

Kids can collect small sturdy twigs that will have a future as tiny tree trunks. Once they’ve done their outdoor scavenger hunt, it’s time to cut the ribbon on this experiment–literally! After they choose from some colorful ribbons, they can tie each ribbon onto the twig in a stacked fashion. Now the twig is an instant Christmas tree!

Pine Cone Christmas Tree

DIY Pine cone Christmas tree

Send your number one scavenger out to collect pinecones or do your own reconnaissance mission by visiting your local supermarket. Your painter brushes on enchanting splashes of green. (If they like they can add various ornaments to the pine cone (like beads, pom-poms or glitter glue). Then, they can add cotton around the pine cone points or hints of white to add the illusion of snow. Place the pine cone in some plaster of Paris to keep it standing tall. It looks like a snowy tree!

Reindeer Handprint Christmas Craft

Have your child trace their hand onto a piece of brown cardstock. After they cut it out, they can attach an oval patch of paper, then googly eyes and a red nose (buttons or pom-poms) to the thumb. (Tip: Make sure the fingertips are pointing downward.) To add some extra jolliness they can attach bell strands below the wrist and across the hand. Jingle all the way!

Fill-It-Up Grinch Ornament

DIY Grinch ornament

Your festive little one can create an ornament that will leave any Grinch feeling green with envy this holiday season! You’ll need a transparent ornament to fill, plastic or glass (depending on the age of the designer) and green feathers, fabric strips, beads or gumdrops. They can paint on a Grinch face or leave it be.

Young artists love opportunities to show their sense of style. You can share the joy this holiday season by helping your child discover their love for all things Christmas. It’ll be the best present ever!

How to Make Fake Snow

Completed Fake Snow

For families living in a warm climate, winter outdoor activities don’t look so different from summer, fall, or spring activities. Skiing, sledding, and building snowmen may just be the stuff of picture books and holiday movies for kids outside of the Northeast and Midwest. Ideally, families would get to play in the snow, without the brutal winds, ice and winter storms. Fake snow presents a chance to break away from winter boredom, no actual weather required! 

Fake Snow is fun, whether there’s never been snowfall where you live or there’s three feet of permanent hardpack as early as October. It’s great for younger kids’ sensory play. Plus, it’s easy to make and easy to clean up, so we put together this guide on how to make fake snow!

Getting Set Up

First gather equipment and set up a play area. Even though it’s not as messy as bringing real snow into the house, spilled fake snow still requires some clean up. Lay down wax paper or newsprint to keep your play space tidy. A shower curtain liner works well as a catch-all for messy hands-on activities. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • A tray, tub or wide flat container to hold the snow
  • 1½ cups Baking soda
  • ¼ cups Shampoo 
  • (optional) Food coloring 
  • (optional) White or silver glitter 
  • (optional) Toys to play in the snow
  • (optional) Buttons, pipe cleaners, beads and pom poms for building snowmen.

This activity is also great for groups of kids, as every kid can make their own tray of snow. Just increase the suggested recommendation on the recipe. The measurements above are great for two kids sharing a tray.

Making Fake Snow

  • Prepare the play area with wax paper or plastic for easy clean up. 
  • Set down the tray and pour in the baking soda.
Fake Snow with Baking Soda
  • Pour in the pre-measured shampoo. If you’re interested in making colored snow using food coloring, first mix the food coloring with shampoo. 
Fake Snow Plus Shampoo
  • Kids can help to mix the baking soda and shampoo together in their tray. Using hands, keep stirring and kneading the snow together until it becomes more crumbly and less sticky. 
Snow Mixture
  • Add in glitter if you want, or drop in a few extra “bursts” of color with food coloring.

Once the snow is crumbling, it’s ready for all kinds of snow adventures. Kids can experiment with adding more food coloring to pre-mixed snow and sprinkling in more glitter. If you’re in a really warm climate, the mixture can be refrigerated for a while to give the sensation of playing with cold snow. 

Use blue or purple food coloring to mimic the colors of frigid Arctic ice. For more color fun, try making batches of red and white snow to create candy cane inspired snow.

Fake Snowmen

Clump the snow together into balls for building snowmen. Start with two stacked snowballs to create a basic snowman shape and then try building a taller snowman out of three snowballs.

  • Add buttons to the front of the snowmen.
  • Place pipe cleaners in both sides of the snowman for arms.
  • Beads or peppercorns make great eyes or mouths for the top snowball. 
  • Add pompoms to the top snowball of the snowman for a tophat or earmuffs.

Tactile Play

Younger kids love tactile play, because it’s messy, hands-on, and always fun!

  • Hide toys in the snow for kids to uncover in a treasure hunt. 
  • Use seasonal cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the snow, or use cookie cutters as a mold and fill them with fake snow. 
  • Scoop a cup into a plastic bag for transportable sensory play. It’s mess free and kids will love squishing & playing with the glittery snow in the bag.

Make Snowdrifts

Anytime baking soda comes out of the pantry, most kids want to see it fizz. When it’s time to clean up the fake snow activity, parents can pour vinegar onto the snow to make it erupt into bubbles or snowdrifts. Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, when combined, two chemical reactions take place, the latter of which is a decomposition producing water and carbon dioxide gas. 

If your kids have seen the reaction before, ask them to make a guess about what will happen now that there’s shampoo present in the baking soda. Do they think the reaction will be more foamy? Less foamy?

Other Fake Snow Recipes

There are many variations of fake snow recipes, they all create a different kind of snow. For people living in colder climates terms like wet snow, dry snow, or heavy snow all mean different things (and cold weather kids know which ones make the best snow balls). Try out these alternative recipes for generating different kinds of snow!

  • Shaving Cream & Baking Soda: Combine 1 ½ cups Baking Soda & add shaving cream to create white fluffy snow. Continue adding in shaving cream until you find a consistency that you like!
  • Conditioner: Substitute conditioner for the shampoo in the original recipe for a smoother type of consistency.
  • Corn Starch & Lotion: not as powdery as the other recipes, but great for making snowmen. 
  • Snow Clay: This snow with more substance for sculpting. Kids can form it into blocks for constructing igloos and snow structures. Mix all the ingredients together & knead until smooth. 
    • 1 Part Cornstarch
    • 2 Parts Baking Soda
    • 1.5 Parts Water 
    • Food coloring and/or glitter

This winter break, you might find yourself at home with kids brimming with pent-up energy on the verge of cabin fever. Break into the pantry and bathroom to grab a few basic ingredients to make your very own snow – a guaranteed boredom buster! Older kids might enjoy making fake snow as well, as a variation on traditional “slime” recipes. Try adding in a few drops of essential oil to the recipe to make the snow smell like the season.

All of the fake snow recipes will keep for a few days as long as they aren’t left exposed to the air for too long, so you can enjoy one batch for a whole weekend!

Women in Science: An Interview with Rachel Ignotofsky

Rachel Ignotofsky is a New York Times–bestselling author and illustrator. Her book, Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World, is a KiwiCo favorite. A gloriously illustrated celebration of female trailblazers, Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with examples from both the ancient and modern worlds. The result is a fun and accessible book that appeals to kids and adults alike!

We sat down with Rachel to ask her about how she came to write this book. In the interview below, she shares more about her process and her strong belief that illustration can be a powerful tool for making learning exciting.

KiwiCo: Have you always been interested in science? Did you have a teacher or mentor who helped nurture your interest in science when you were little? What else inspired your love of science?

Rachel: Science has always been an exciting topic for me.  Human anatomy was one of my favorite classes in high school. That passion for learning about biology and the mechanics of how the world works stayed with me when I decided to go to art school.

KiwiCo: What inspired you to write this book?

Rachel: For me, art and illustration are tools that need to be functional in some way. Before I wrote this book, I had a lot of friends who were teachers in public schools and would lament the lack of books about science for kids. As I was doing my research, I found that, with the exception of Marie Curie, there were very few  stories about women in science. The more I read, the more amazing stories I uncovered about these remarkable women whose work was so impactful. I started drawing posters and putting them on social media and in my Etsy shop. I always knew it would be a book, but I wanted to test the idea first. 

Now the book is being used as a part of science lesson plans as at the high-school level and has been translated into 25 languages. It shows you how much we needed to tell these women’s stories. 

KiwiCo: How did you research the book and choose which scientists to include? 

It was a winding path. I believe you have to read books to make books. I read a ton of heavy books on science starting with a book called Nobel Prize Women in Science. This book profiles six women who won the Nobel Prize and is very long but was an amazing starting point. Then I created a list of women to research with a focus on diversity. I tried to include a breadth of fields—from particle physics to biology and astronomy—as well as a diversity of economic backgrounds, races, religions and beyond. I wanted there to be a story in there that everyone could relate to—no matter who they were or where they came from.  When you are inclusive, you get to tell a much more accurate history.  

One of the first women I included was Edith Clarke, who was the first female electrical engineer and became the first female professor of engineering at the University of Texas at Austin despite the fact that she struggled with dyslexia. Her work was the foundation for many advances in her field. 

KiwiCo: How do you hope the book will inspire kids?

Rachel: My hope is that both young girls and boys will read this so we can reframe history with a new sense of normal. The only way to do that is to show real role models who affected history. My biggest hope is that it will give them a new set of role models to aspire to so that anyone can be a leader and solve the world’s biggest problems. 

That said, not everyone is going to go into STEM fields, but the book invites people to enjoy science in their everyday lives. A lot of kids (and adults) label themselves as “not smart enough,” but science is for everyone. 

KiwiCo: You organized the book chronologically starting with Alexandria (one of the oldest civilizations in the world) and ending with today’s scientists. Why did you decide to structure the book this way?  

Rachel: I try to put history into everything that I do. Women have been working in science since the dawn of time. I wanted to include the earliest impactful examples for kids to understand how there have always been women scientists and to show how their work not only survived them but changed the world.

KiwiCo: We love your book because our mission at KiwiCo is to inspire kids to see themselves as innovators and creative problem solvers—which feels very much in line with the stories in Women in Science!  Which women in your book were some of the most creative problem-solvers?

Rachel: Journalist Marjorie Stoneman Douglas spent five years researching the Everglades in Florida at a time when very little was known about it. She realized that the swamp was actually a connected series of rivers that protected the Floridian shore. The swamp was also a moving river of grass that acted as a nursery for fish. She was able to prove the importance of this ecosystem, and her work allowed the Everglades to become a National Park. Many years later, when the potential construction of a jet port threatened to harm the swamp resurfaced, she organized petitions and protests (at the age of 80!)—and won the case again. At the age of 100, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. The kind of conservation she practiced isn’t just important for Florida; it is essential to the world.

Another example is Mae Jemison, the first Black American woman astronaut,

She served on the space shuttle Endeavor. She grew up watching the space race (and was also a big fan of the fictionalized show Star Trek). After returning from finishing her work at NASA, Mae started a number of programs to inspire people to get into the space field and became an inspiration to many. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame.

Each and every story has moments like that. In general, when I was researching the book, I felt indebted to the people in it.  Each woman worked to create a better life for everyone. I want this book to be part of a living timeline that celebrates the achievements of all women. I want each story to include lessons that can be continued by the reader. The next great scientist could be you! 

If you want to learn more about Rachel, you can visit her website at  https://www.rachelignotofskydesign.com/ or her online shop.

Credit line: Illustrations Reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Women in Science Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Ignotofsky. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

For web, a link to pre order/purchase is required (e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells, or any online book retailer of your choosing).