Since there isn’t an instruction manual for parenting, sometimes we have to turn to experts for answers. And when it comes to childhood development, Dr. Dimitri Christakis is kind of like a walking how-to guide.
Dr. Christakis, or Dr. D for short, is a pediatrician, epidemiologist and child development expert at the University of Washington. He’s also the director of the Center for Child Health Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
Some KiwiCo subscribers may recognize Dr. D from the pages of the Panda Crate Wonder Magazine where he dishes out advice to new parents. KiwiCo works with Dr. D and his team at the Christakis Laboratory to make sure the products and content in Panda crates are rooted in evidence-based research. And what makes Dr. D especially suited for this partnership is the fact that he’s a parent himself.
“What I wish I had is exactly what Panda Crate is”, Dr D says. “A box that gives you hands-on materials to play with your children in an engaging, developmentally appropriate way, and evidence-based answers to questions that you might have.”
And we know all too well parenting comes with an endless amount of questions. This year, the questions continue to pile up. Families across the world have faced a multitude of challenges since the rise of COVID-19, and the impact has been felt by both parents and children.
“We’re seeing an increase in anxiety and depression in older children and a fair amount of fear and concern in younger children. Every child, of course, is different, but I think the first thing that a parent should do is meet your child where they are,” Dr. D tells us.
To help parents with kids of all ages get the answers they need, we (virtually) sat down with Dr. D to talk about all things COVID-19. From socialization to education and future implications, he shared detailed evidence-based research and advice in response to questions from parents in our KiwiCo Community. Now, we’re sharing everything Dr. D had to say with you! Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get all his advice in your inbox. If you have questions you want answered, follow us on Instagram @kiwico_inc and send them our way!
KiwiCo is nine years old! The company has come a long way since the humble beginnings in our founder and CEO’s garage. Today, KiwiCo is delivered to doorsteps around the world! And each dropoff is jam-packed with hands-on projects, activities, and content so kids can learn as they do. That’s in part thanks to our brilliant team of product designers. Collectively, they’ve helped design more than 1,500 KiwiCo projects. To mark this milestone, we want to introduce you to some of our product designers and give you an inside look at how they deliver a sense of wonder in everything they create!
We all want our kids’ birthdays to be magical and memorable, but let’s face it, planning a party for your child can sometimes be a bit of a struggle. There’s the sending of invitations, collecting supplies, searching for fun activities, and do we even have to mention the making of goodie bags? Oof. Well, some parents in our KiwiCo Community have shared how they managed to combine all their birthday party needs in one place — or rather, one crate!
Step 1: Pick the Perfect Party Project or Crate
The KiwiCo Store has STEAM projects to ignite amazing hands-on fun for kids of all ages! Take a spin with your little one to see what kind of project or crate catches their eye. Art? Engineering? Chemistry? We’ve got something for every kind of innovator. At the KiwiCo Store, not only can you pick your crate’s theme, but you can also order multiples of the same item so your guests can discover and explore together. You can either order them to your house for an in-person party or send them to your guests for a virtual celebration!
While sheltering in place, one mom reached out to the KiwiCo customer care team to ask about a bulk order for her son’s virtual 7th birthday party. She ended up sending an Atlas Crate to each of her son’s friends, so they could do an activity together, while apart!
Step 2: Attach an Invite & Send to Friends
For Landry’s 2nd birthday, their grownups attached party invitations directly to the Koala Crate projects they ordered! We loved this personalized twist to make these party packages even more special, but if you’re looking for a lower lift, you can always send a classic email invitation and let your guests know that a KiwiCo surprise awaits their arrival.
Step 3: Celebrate & Create!
Whether you’re throwing an in-person party, putting together a virtual affair, or a little bit of both, KiwiCo gives all guests near and far a way to explore hands-on creativity together!
Fall is the season of pumpkin spice and cozy nights, but it’s also the season of science! From chlorophyll to chemical reactions, the wonder of the world is unfolding all around us. KiwiCo founder and CEO, Sandra, walked through her favorite fall experiments live on KTLA, so now we’re sharing them with you! Try out one, two, or all of these projects with your kids to celebrate the season with science.
Fall is full of color, and this experiment helps bottle it up! Leaves are full of chlorophyll which works to convert the energy of the sun into food for the plant. Chlorophyll also makes leaves appear green. In the fall the chlorophyll in leaves starts to break down and their green hue changes to yellow, orange, or red. By boiling leaves and submerging them in alcohol, you can separate the colors and capture a fall-themed rainbow in liquid form. You can start this project with a nature walk with your kids to collect colorful leaves!
With every leaf that falls, a different experiment awaits! Similar to humans and animals, leaves are made up of a system of veins that transport food and water to its cells. When leaves hit the ground, the decomposition process starts. You can speed up and simulate this process at home to reveal a series of skeletons! While you do this simple science experiment, you can talk to your kids about the anatomy of a leaf and its similarities to our own vein systems!
This experiment makes for a super sensory experience! Surprisingly, no apples are actually needed for this project. Instead, tour kids will make their own “apples” with baking soda, soap, and water. Then, you just have to add vinegar to create an explosion of fizzy bubbles! While you do this project, talk to your kids about the causes of this chemical reaction.
If you have an apple orchard nearby, kick this project off with a field trip! When apples are cut, an enzyme (polyphenol oxidase), that reacts with oxygen, is released–causing the apple slices to turn brown. In this experiment, you and your kids are going to test out different liquids to see which one keeps the apple slices from browning. If you have an apple orchard nearby, you can kick this project off with a field trip!
Like lemons, pumpkins have acidic juices that help transport electrical energy! Put your pumpkin’s power to the test by combining copper, zinc, and electrical wire. The flow of electrical energy starts by dissolving charged ions of zinc off of the zinc metal. The zinc ions leave behind extra electrons in the zinc metal which travel over to the copper through the wire. That movement of electrons creates electricity!
Like many events in 2020, Halloween is shaping up to look different than years past. But no matter the fate of trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, you can make for a very happy Halloween at home! We collected some awesome activities to get your kids into the spooky spirit.
Take your pumpkin game to a new level this year with this creepy chemical reaction! The leaky pumpkin foams up all over the place because of yeast. Yes, the same fungus that’s normally used to make bread rise! You can learn more about the science behind the reaction as you try it out.
If you want more chemistry this Halloween, mix up some citric acid, baking soda, and water to create a bubbling brew that blows up a balloon! Acids (like citric acid) and bases (like baking soda) do something special when they’re combined in water. In water, their molecules (the smallest piece of a substance) are free to float around and react with each other. This chemical reaction creates something completely new and gas is released into the balloon!
This project is a perfect way to combine science and art! Your kids can create their own pipe cleaner crystals using borax and water. We recommend doing this experiment in late-September or early-October, so your kids can watch their crystals grow in the weeks leading up to Halloween!
At KiwiCo, we love launchers because they’re a super fun way to play with physics! With this project, your kids can turn a few rubber bands into a stretchy web that launches spiders across the room. While they make their launchers, you can talk to your kids about the difference between potential and kinetic energy!
This may not seem like a science project at first glance, but you can easily turn this craft into a hands-on lesson about the science behind mummification. You can get even more use out of your kid’s mummy by starting a new at-home Halloween tradition! While your kids are sleeping, move the mummy into a different spot in the house just like the holiday tradition of Elf on the Shelf.
These cute little mummies are the perfect craft for preschoolers. It’s simple and my kids loved adding the googly eyes. If you pick a scented soap, you can actually have your home smell extra yummy too!
Whether it’s during meal prep, service, or clean-up, we spend a lot of time during the day in the kitchen. So to help bring more learning into the room where it happens, we collected some of our favorite kitchen science activities! As a bonus, with these projects, your kids can actually eat what they create (but we don’t recommend replacing meals entirely)!
Is a square egg possible? Not in nature – but you can re-shape a hard-boiled egg in just a few easy steps. Use this experiment for a hands-on lesson in molecular chemistry! This project is great for kids ages 5-16.
Did you know the science of color is also known as chromatics or colorimetry? While some people wouldn’t pair color with science, experiments on the topic have been unfolding for centuries! Learn more about the science behind color mixing while making edible paints. This project is best for ages 4-11, but it can be fun for all ages.
Have you ever noticed that if you slice an apple in the morning, it turns brown by lunch? This is actually a chemical reaction at work! In this experiment, you’ll learn more about how the oxygen in the air around us causes this reaction (also known as oxidation). Spare some slices for this science experiment, and eat the rest! This project is best for kids ages 3-8.
Today almost one-third of the energy we produce in the U.S. comes from oil, and we use it daily — for transportation, to create electricity that powers our houses, schools, offices, and stores, and to run industrial factories. But we only have a limited amount of crude oil on Earth! One healthier alternative to burning crude oil is burning vegetable oil! Show your kid about the power of plant energy with this easy experiment! This project is great for kids ages 5-16.
Whether it’s between learning from home lessons or during homework time after hours, your child’s brain needs a break! Short, physical activities throughout the day can help improve your student’s attention, mood, and creativity. These brain breaks get blood and oxygen flowing through the body and to the brain, calming the nervous system and decreasing stress. It’s a win/win for everyone (that includes you too, grownups)!
Experts recommend brain breaks every 30 minutes if possible. To help kickstart your brain break collection, we reached out to some of our favorite teachers for suggestions!
Tabata is one of our favorite workouts at KiwiCo, so when elementary school teacher Kim Eagleson shared the Avengers Kids Tabata Workout with us, we knew we had to add it to the list! A Tabata workout requires 20 seconds of all-out intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This four-minute version is perfect for a brain break. You can also try the Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Black Panther, or other Get Kids Moving workouts!
Screen-Free Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts get kids moving while also encouraging curiosity and problem-solving. These Active At-Home Scavenger Hunts put a creative spin on a classic game. This is also an activity that can be done with friends and family over Zoom!
Little Language Lessons
High school Spanish teacher, Andrea Ruiz, gives her students’ brains a break by taking a tour of the world. You can do the same by learning languages at home! These printable flashcards and activities from Mr. Printable will help give your child a much-needed screen time break. If you want to get your child’s tiny fingers moving, try practicing sign language with help from Start ASL!
We’re huge fans of GoNoodle at KiwiCo! Banana Banana Meatball is a go-to favorite brain break for high school special education teacher Andrew Boven. It’ll have your kids singing and laughing. GoNoodle is home to 300+ videos that feature kids songs, dance, yoga, mindfulness, stretching, and more! Make a list of your favorite videos and try a new one every day.
If you haven’t given in to the TikTok temptation yet, now may be a good time (it’s for the kids after all). Learning a choreographed dance is a fun creative challenge that the whole family can take on. You can start small by learning from the pint-sized professionals at Kidz Bop. They also have a live daily dance break at 3 pm EST/12 pm PST!
Yoga & Meditation Moments
Yoga can be a fun way to reduce stress and anxiety while also building strength and coordination. If you’re looking for a screen-free brain break, check out Sanford Health’s free printable yoga cards. Another teacher favorite is Cosmic Yoga which will give your kid a dose of “healthy screen time”. They have hundreds of videos with different themes for learning and practicing new poses. If you want more moments like this in your house, also try out a few of the ideas we compiled in our post: Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Parents.
If you’re looking for more screen-free activities, check out the KiwiCo Store! We have a bunch of hands-on projects that your child can take on independently or with a little grownup help. Kiwi projects come with multiple activities that you can spread out and use for brain breaks all week long!
Getting kids excited and engaged while learning from home can be a struggle. To help encourage learning beyond your child’s daily curriculum, we gathered fun and free resources that cover a wide variety of subjects. If your favorite site is missing, please drop it in the comments for us — we’d love to hear what works for you!
Khan Academy is good for ages 4–adult. (Try the Khan Kids app for ages 2–7.)
BrainPOP is a favorite with kids, with insightful videos on a huge range of topics (including social studies, English, math, and engineering), with related reading and quizzes to check comprehension. They always offer free sample videos, but right now are offering access for free to families with classes closed due to covid-19.
BrainPOP is good for ages 9-13 and BrainPOP, Jr. for ages 5-8.
You may already be familiar with the games, videos, and activities on the PBS Kids site, but PBS Parents is where it’s at. You can get daily activities and ideas for kids ages 2 through 8, as well as tips for parents on managing learning at home. For older kids, check out PBS LearningMedia for lesson plans and videos curated for teachers.
PBS Kids & PBS Parents are good for ages 2-8 and PBS Learning Media for ages 9–adult.
Scholastic Learn at Home
Beloved by teachers everywhere, Scholastic is offering lessons for learning at home tailored by age: pre-K and kinder, grades 1–2, grades 3–5, and grades 6+. With reading and videos to watch, the lessons are easy to work into a day without a lot of parent involvement.
Scholastic Learn at Home is good for ages 3–12.
ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy
ABC Mouse, for ages 2–8, and Adventure Academy, for ages 8–13, offer a full set of subjects in fun, kid-pleasing game formats. The games or lessons will level with your child, so you don’t need to search for the right one. Both are paid but offer a free month’s trial, and are worth checking out as an option that feels more like a game than like homework.
ABC Mouse is good for ages 2–8 and Adventure Academy for ages 8-13.
OK, so Outschool isn’t technically free, but with online video classes taught by real teachers as low as $5 a class, it’s worth checking out. Where else can you find lessons on learning the ukulele, playing a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and discussing Diary of a Wimpy Kid all in the same place? (They’re also running a program for free classes for kids impacted by public school closures, pending enough donation support.)
Outschool is good for ages 5–15.
Reading and Social Studies
The National Endowment for the Humanities has a large collection of lesson plans and teachers guides for K-12 students that cover arts, history, social studies, language arts, and more. Parents will need to dig through to select the appropriate, but with so much to choose from there’s something to interest every kid.
NEH EDSITEment! is good for ages 5–18.
Storyline is a non-profit that brings celebrated actors to read illustrated storybooks to kids (kindergarten through grade 3). The performances make these videos fun and engaging for parents as well as kids.
Storyline is good for ages 4–8.
Time for Kids
Time for Kids is exactly what it sounds like: Time magazine’s journalism written at a range of reading levels from kindergarten through grade 6. Just choose your child’s level for short nonfiction reading practice.
Time for Kids is good for ages 5–13.
CNN 10 is a daily 10-minute broadcast, specially reported for elementary-age kids. It’s great for discussion or writing prompts, or just an easy, educational distraction during lunch prep.
CNN 10 is good for ages 5–13.
Newsela is used by many schools for reading and research in social studies across a wide range of topics and from numerous publishers, including PBS, The New York Times, and Scientific American. Parents can register for a free account to gain access to all their content products through the end of the 2020 school year.
Newsela is good for ages 6–18.
Science, Tech, and Math
We love the videos and activities from Mystery Science for the way they inspire kids to love science, so we were delighted to learn that they’ve shared a starter list of free lessons for grades K–5, no account needed. You can just watch the lesson for an all-online experience or pair with a home hands-on activity to explore the topic further.
Mystery Science is good for ages 4–12.
Looking for a way to get your kid excited about math? Check out Funexpected Math – an interactive environment that embeds findings in educational neuroscience into digital learning games.
Funexpected Math is good for ages 3–7.
Code.org is a fantastic entry into coding, absolutely no experience required. Jump in with the resources on their at-home learning intro page, then pick a game or character your child likes from one of the Hour of Code activities.
Mystery Science is good for ages 5–adult.
American Chemical Society
In response to school closures, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has released a collection of free online lesson plans for grades K-8. With games, videos, and lesson plans to explore, you’ll find ways to explore chemistry with stuff you already have at home (warning: may get messy!).
ACS activities are good for ages 5–13.
Even math-fearing kids tend to love Prodigy. With a combo of cute little monster and curriculum-aligned lessons for grades 1–8, it’s a solid choice for homeschool math time, and the lessons will adapt to your child’s level.
Prodigy is good for ages 6–14.
National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids is a hub for tons of content about the natural world, perfect for kids to explore independently.
National Geographic Kids is good for ages 4–12.
Teach Engineering is an enormous collection of hands-on STEM activities for kids K-12. Since it’s geared towards teachers, activities will require some parent setup time, but the lesson plans will walk you through everything.
Teach Engineering is good for ages 5–18.
For kids in elementary school, NASA Kids’ Club has games and activities they can engage with independently. For a deeper exploration of space space, check out NASA for Educators to browse STEM resources for K-12.
NASA Kids’ Club is good for ages 5–8 and NASA for Educators for ages 9–18.
Every kid needs a brain break, and GoNoodle is our favorite go-to to get help the wiggles out. You can use GoNoodle for a 5-minute break between lessons or a full 20-minute dance session — whatever you need that day.
GoNoodle is good for ages 3–12.
Feeling a little stressed? Us too. We could probably all use a little more yoga right now, and CosmicKids Yoga makes it accessible and fun for little ones as well.
CosmicKids is good for ages 3–12.
Arts and Creativity
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met (New York City) has loads of exhibits online, but we especially love the #MetKids site, which features kid-friendly videos about creating and enjoying art, as well as a “time machine” that allows kids to search the collection for by time, place, and theme.
The Met is good for all ages and #MetKids for ages 6–12.
Try a visit to the Louvre, minus the crowds and the flight to Paris. This collection of selected works is a great place to start, but (as you’d expect), there are countless works to explore. We loved the “Closer Look” collection, which allows viewing of works much closer than possible in person.
The Louvre is good for all ages.
Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney features over 25,000 works by contemporary artists to browse through, as well as a Watch & Listen section with artists’ stories, videos of exhibitions, and musical performances.
The Whitney is good for all ages.
Google Arts & Culture Collection
Explore collections from hundreds of museums around the world. You can jump off to a creative exploration by picking a painting your child likes and prompting them to create a drawing inspired by it.
Google Arts & Culture is good for all ages.
KiwiCo Corner DIYs
We have a huge collection of DIYs that combine art and science! Your child can learn more about the human body by building a pumping heart or create a chemical reaction with a fizzy candy balloon! Check out thousands of awesome DIYs with KiwiCo Corner.
Host Dylan Dreyer put Camp KiwiCo to the test with her own son to see what the buzz is about!
Did you catch KiwiCo on the TODAY Show?! Our founder and CEO, Sandra Oh Lin, chatted with host and mom of two, Dylan Dreyer, about all things Camp KiwiCo. Our collection of free hands-on activities, printables, and videos was featured during the TODAY Show’s Camp from the Couch series.
“Camp KiwiCo was something that we created as soon as we kind of figured out that this summer was not going to be like one that we’ve seen before,” Sandra explained. “We have a lot of interesting content and experiments, and we wanted to make that widely available.”
Try out this two-part water experiment! First–why can’t you blow up a balloon in a bottle? And, second–what happens when you do…and then fill it with water? Play with water pressure and create a water volcano that is seriously fun!
Use the power of chemical reactions to launch Pop-Top Rockets! These mini rockets are so easy to make and so fun to set off, you’ll want to launch them again and again. Explore Rocket Science on Day 5 of Tinker Camp. Or if you want to experience more fun in the sun, we recommend our Fun with Flight crate.
Discover the wonderful world of birds on day 3 of Koala Camp! Explore what makes these feathery friends so unique, create egg-inspired art, and craft a pair of toy binoculars to take with you on nature walks.
Use science to build a better sandcastle! Surface tension is what gives wet sand its strength for great sandcastle building. Too little water, and surface tension can’t hold the sand grains together. Too much water, and your sand collapses! Learn the science behind building a perfect construction.
Bring the beach to your backyard and use science to make sand slime! All you need is some clear glue and starch to transform simple sand into slime-like consistency! You’ll learn about polymer science in the process!
Watch a marshmallow grow to three times its original size with a quick and easy experiment using everyone’s favorite summer treat! The marshmallow grows when it burns because of chemistry happening deep within it. Marshmallows are made almost entirely out of sugar, and when sugar burns, one of the chemical compounds it makes is water vapor (like the hot steam from a kettle!). The water vapor is what makes the marshmallow grow.
We invite you and your kids to join us for a fun-filled enriching summer time experience filled with discovery and delight! Camp KiwiCo offers four different sessions – Koala Camp, Kiwi Camp, Atlas Camp, and Tinker Camp – geared for a different age group. Each session is made up of five days that are jam-packed with free content. Each day of camp comes with a science theme that is explored through videos, printables, experiments, hands-on projects, and creative challenges. Camp KiwiCo is designed so that you can choose your own adventure and timeline. You can follow the schedule we created and do all five days back-to-back or you can spread the fun throughout the summer!