Top 10 Back-to-School Creativity Tips

This fall, we presented a special back-to-school series on 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year. Read on to get ideas on ways to keep the creative juices flowing!

  1. Inspire Creativity With A Countdown Chain. Create a paper chain featuring everyone’s favorite kiwi bird. Then count down the number of days you have left until the start of school! Get the free printable here.
  2. Design a Discovery Zone! Make space around the home for your kid’s imagination to run wild. Here are some ideas to get you started.
    via Rambling Renovators

     

  3. Spend Quality Time Sharing Hands-on Experiences. Go on fun outings, explore new perspectives, and create family traditions. Learn some new ways to keep the creative spark live.
  4. Tell Tale Tales With Printable Story Cards. This darling printable is a surefire way to get your kids giggling. This free game will inspire plot twists and turns in a storytelling session that’s fun for the whole family!
  5. Be Prepared for Inspiration at All Times with a Travel Art Kit. Inspiration can strike anytime, anywhere. Learn how to outfit a portable art kit!
  6. Dive Into Reading With a DIY Bookmark! Make a splash into your fall reading lineup with a bookmark that’s easy to make and fun to use.
  7. Embrace the “Uh-Oh” Moments. Sometimes we can become fixated on doing something “just right.” But in many cases, it’s important for kids (and all of us, really) to be OK with imperfection. Here’s a great tip on how to help your kids handle “mistakes” while they’re creating something.
  8. Make Way for Masterpieces. Peruse this round-up on clever ways to display your kids’ artwork around the home.
  9. Create a Classroom or Nap Time Keepsake. Does your child get homesick when he’s at school? Maybe a stuffy to cuddle with during nap time will help! Learn how to make one here.
    create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing
  10. Record Your Hopes & Dreams for the Year. Here’s a tradition that both you and your child will love looking back on! See what creativity emerges as you think about your goals for the year.

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About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

 

Pins of the Week: Homemade Gifts for Grandparents’ Day

grandparents diy gifts homemade presents

Happy Grandparents’ Day (September 9) to nanas and pop-pops everywhere! Show them how much they mean to your family with these thoughtful and personalized presents that the grandkids can make.

 

Download a FREE Grandparents’ Day photo & art card printable from Kiwi Crate here.

Want more ideas for fun, learning, and play? Follow us on Pinterest.


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #10: Record Your Hopes & Dreams for the Year

This is the last post in our special Back to School series, where we’re sharing 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year.

I know just about everyone must be back in school by now (surely my daughter, whose preschool starts tomorrow, must be the LAST person in the country to go back to school! Not that we’re counting down the days…) If your kids are like mine, they’re super excited about seeing old friends and making new ones, toting around that new backpack, and breaking in those shiny school supplies. One more tradition that I love (and borrowed from my son’s teacher last year) is to take a moment to record your child’s hopes and dreams for the year.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I’ve found making a plan is often a great way to jump start creative juices (that’s what brainstorming is, after all!).  It’s also fun to talk with your kids about what are the things they love and really want to make time to do or come up with a plan to accomplish.

I just made a really simple print-out with “I want to learn…” and “I am excited to…” as the prompts for my son.  It was easier for him to start with the “excited about” bit, so that was where he went…

 

The richest part of H’s plan, in my eyes, is the picture.  Of course he’s excited to “play on the blak [sic] top”, but I love to see the creativity that emerges in how that is represented on the page—the kid jumping, the ball being hit into the wall and soaring over the player’s head.

We didn’t get to the “I’m excited to learn” bit yet—that might be a little too abstract for now.  But I’m hoping spelling goes on the list.

Do you record your child’s hopes for the year? Any other great back-to-school traditions? Please share!

 


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Two-Ingredient Tuesday: Masking Tape + Watercolor

Here’s a simple technique that’s sure to create a delightful result. Stick masking tape on paper in any pattern you like—we made the letter O. Then simply watercolor all over the paper.

As O started painting, he told me this was a Van Gogh: “It’s a pretty famous painting.”

Then he added lighting bolts and his beloved bears, brown Baba and purple Sam.

When you’re done and the paint is dry, carefully peel off the tape to reveal the shape. We gave our “O” painting to Grandma and Grandpa!


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #9: Create a Classroom or Naptime Keepsake!

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Being away from home can be tough on kids. Our school recommends making a special keepsake that kids can keep in their cubbies and pull out at nap time or when they’re feeling sad. Every year since preschool, my son Dillon and I make something new together to bring to school for this very purpose. This year, he asked if we could make a “stuffy” that he could cuddle with during quiet time.

We ended up making two different stuffies. For the first stuffy, Dillon drew what he wanted the stuffy to look like (our kitty), and then traced the shape around cotton canvas. I helped him cut out the fabric and then he used fabric paint and markers to color kitty. With an embroidery needle and thread, he stitched up most of the kitty and stuffed her with batting. I then helped him sew up the final edge. (Note: Dillon is 6, and has had sewing practice in preschool. There were a few pokes to the finger, but no blood and he didn’t seem to mind.)

Here is the drawing and the finished stuffy:

make your own stuffed animal

For the second stuffy, Dillon asked if I could sew it with my sewing machine because he wanted a sturdy, pillow-like stuffy. Since I wanted Dillon to have a hand in creating both stuffies, I asked him to draw the design. We discussed some of the types of things that mommy can sew (simpler shapes, and a little rounded—nothing too fancy; I’m a basic sewer and this was the first time I’ve pulled out my sewing machine in over a year).

Here’s the design Dillon came up with:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

And here’s the pattern we created from his drawing:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

I added 1/4″ around for the seam and traced the pattern onto the fabric with a fabric pencil.

We went through some fabric scraps I had around and decided on soft grey cotton flannel for the body, bright orange and green felt for the eyes, and some bright purple orange and green thread.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

To create this stuffy, I first pinned the pattern face-down to two pieces of fabric facing right side in. Dillon traced the shape onto the fabric with a fabric pencil, and I cut the fabric out. Dillon cut the circles of felt, and together we hand-sewed these on. We used the bright green thread to create an eye. Once these details were on, I pinned the two sides together right side in and stitched them on my machine, leaving an opening for stuffing. (Note: I left a slightly larger opening, so that it would be easier for Dillon to help.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Once the stuffy was sewn, Dillon turned it right side out and began stuffing. For the inside, we used a mix of recycled stuffing (old t-shirts we cut into strips) and extra cotton batting I had on hand. Dillon and I took turns. We had a few silly laughs while he put the “guts”” in. After our stuffy felt nice and pillowy, I stitched up the back end. (My placement of the opening created boyish giggling as well.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here is Dillon loving his two new stuffies, Kitty Buns and Round Circle. Dillon decided that Round Circle will go to school and Kitty Buns will stay home for nighttime cuddling.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here are some other ideas for keepsakes: a small book of family photos, a family collage, a special blanket from home, or a blanket with your child’s name embroidered on it.

Are you creating a keepsake for your kid’s classroom? If so, what are you making?


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back to School with an Under the Sea Lunch

Why hello, Al Roker! As featured on the Today Show, our creative lunch idea will be sure to make a splash in the cafeteria. (The Kiwi Crate segment begins at 1:55. Sorry, we weren’t able to delete the ad that plays before the clip starts!)

 

When it’s time for back to school, it’s time to start planning my kids’ lunches. I must admit that most of the time, I barely pull something together! But every once in a while, I get inspired to do a little something special.

I thought I’d share a lunch inspired by an “Under the Sea” theme. Here, I packed everything in one lunch…but you can definitely spread things out so that your child can look forward to an “Under the Sea” week with an item per day from the menu:

• Fish Pita
• Egg Boats
• Fishy Snack – Gone Fishin’
• Scuba Apple

First, I created a fish pita. You simply need pita, a knife, a raisin/olive/piece of fruit or vegetable for the fish’s eye, and filling. I used tuna salad, but you could use anything. (I’ve made these sandwiches before with leftover rotisserie chicken, turkey and cheese, etc.)

To make your fish, cut the pita so there’s a tail and a body. Also, cut a little divot out of the top of the pita so you can slot in the eye. Where you made your cuts, stuff the pita with your filling.

Unless your kiddo is super hungry, I suspect you won’t need to make both a small and a large fish pita. I wanted to make one for myself. So, here you see mommy fish with her little fish. They’re almost too fun to eat!

The egg boats are super simple. You need a hard-boiled egg, a couple of toothpicks, and small post-its (or paper and tape).

Make the sail with the toothpick and post-it. I just folded it over a couple of times. Or, you can use paper and tape to make the sail. Then, stick it into the egg. Happy sailing!

I added the Fishy Snack that we posted a while ago to this lunch. You need celery (or pretzel rods), peanut butter (or other nut butter or sunflower seed butter), and Goldfish crackers. It’s so fun for the kids to “go fishing” by dipping their celery in the peanut butter and then picking up the Goldfish with the sticky peanut butter. They get a bite every time they fish!

Finally, I thought that a band to decorate an apple could be pretty cute, and look what our designers at Kiwi Crate made for me! It’s a scuba mask for the apple. You can download it here:

Just print and cut out the mask. then tape it around an apple. If you’d like, you can even draw some eyes on the mask to give it a little personality.

My kids love their scuba apples. They’ve insisted on scuba peaches, scuba oranges, and scuba kiwis. We even tried to make scuba bananas!

I’m always looking for more ideas for my kids’ lunches! I’d love to hear your suggestions.


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

 

Make a Personalized Photo Card for Grandparents’ Day

As Grandparents’ Day (September 9) approaches, we wanted to share with you a simple but personalized gift idea that will be sure to delight grandma or grandpa: a photo card that contains a picture of your little one on one side and a custom portrait of your little one with his or her grandparent on the other.  After all, is there anything more “grand” than a handmade present from a beloved grandchild?

Grandparents printable card photo gift  Download your own printable card here or click on the image below.

How are you celebrating Grandparents’ Day?


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #8: Make Way for Masterpieces

We’re in the midst of our special Back to School series, where we’re sharing 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year. With easy project ideas and Kiwi printables on their way, your kiddos are in for a treat!

 

With school starting up, your little artists will soon be in full operation. Are you ready for the onslaught of masterpieces that will be arriving home soon?

I’ve long struggled with what to do with the artwork that my kids create. My goal is to create a rotating display of their favorites, store the really special ones, and (shhh!) recycle the rest.

I’ve found some great inspiration on our Pinterest board. Here are some of my favorites…

Create a Gallery Wall with White Picture Frames – I just love this look!  My daughter’s preschool teachers created a display like this on the wall in her classroom, and it really did look like a gallery of masterpieces. You can pick up inexpensive frames at IKEA or even at the dollar store.

 

Use Clipboards for a Display Installation – This one is great because you can make it as easy or involved as you would like. This clever blogger spray-painted her clipboards to create more of a design statement. I also love how easy it is to rotate the art in and out!

 

Create a Rotating Gallery with Empty Picture Frames & Binder Clips – Isn’t this clever?  You can often find marked-down frames on sale at the dollar store (or even at a flea market); repurpose those for this fabulously eclectic display!  Ditch the glass and backing, then spray paint the empty frames and hang them on the wall.  Then just tap a small nail in the wall to hang a binder clip.

Go the super-easy route with a Masking Tape Gallery – All you need for this is some cool washi tape or colorful masking / painter’s tape.  It’s low commitment and low involvement — not even a hammer is required!

 

How do you store your little ones’ masterpieces?  Do you have other solutions?  Please share!

 


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #7 (and Two-Ingredient Tuesday): Embrace the “Uh-oh” Moments

We’re in the midst of our special Back to School series, where we’re sharing 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year. With easy project ideas and Kiwi printables on their way, your kiddos are in for a treat!

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #7: Embrace the “Uh-oh” Moments. How do your kids handle it when they make mistakes while they’re creating something?  I’ll be honest – my two oldest (ages 4.5 and 6.5) are not the most resilient.  If they “mess up” (or worse yet, their little brother barges onto the scene and causes them to scribble across their masterpiece), it can be meltdown-city.

Which is why when I came across this book, Beautiful Oops, I knew we had to check it out.  It’s all about how to take an “oops” and turn it into an “ah!” — which is what creativity is all about, isn’t it?  After reading it together, we decided to try the concept out.

All you need is:

  • Paper
  • Markers / crayons

(Bonus: it’s also a Two Ingredient Tuesday project!)

I started out by making a scribble on the paper.  Oops!  Then I handed it off to H and asked if he could please turn it into something?  At first, he was a little resistant: “What, Mom??  That’s too hard!”  But after a little thinking, he decided to give it a try.  I was tickled to see where his creativity took him (left = my scribble; right = H’s bunny rabbit)

 

If your child isn’t old enough yet to do real representational drawing (not that that bunny is exactly representational), but they have hit the “I messed up! I’m tearing up this paper” phase, you can encourage them to just explore ways to build on your “mistake” with prompts like “what color would you add to this?” or “what shape would make this more interesting?”  That was more the direction we went with S, below, who’s 4.5.

I’m sure this activity isn’t going to cure my budding artists of their perfectionism right away, but I think it’s a good exercise to pull out every now and then to remind them how easy it is to turn an “oops” into an “ah!”

Do you have any good ways to celebrate “uh-oh” moments? Please share!

 


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #6: Dive Into Reading With a DIY Bookmark!

We’re in the midst of our special Back to School series, where we’re sharing 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year. With easy project ideas and Kiwi printables on their way, your kiddos are in for a treat!

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #6: Dive Into Reading With a DIY Bookmark! Dr. Seuss said it best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Reading is an unparalleled way to open up wonderful worlds of wit and whimsy. Make a splash into your fall reading lineup with a bookmark that’s easy to make and fun to use!

You’ll need:

printable DIY bookmark
markers
scissors
string
tape
hole punch (optional; not pictured)

1. Color the printable, including at least one of the pictures in the small boxes. (Crayons are not recommended; crayon wax may leave stains once you put the bookmark into a book.)

2. Cut out the bookmark and the book/fish you’ve colored.
3. Use scissors (or a hole punch) to create a small hole at the end of the fishing pole.
4. Thread string through the hole, and tape one end of the string to the back of the bookmark.
5. Tape the other end of the string to the back of the book or fish you’ve colored.

Bookmarks created by Grace (3), Ben (5), Nathan (6), and Lucy (7)

The kids and I had a very fishy evening last night. First, we added paperclips to some fabric fish toys and played “Hide and Go Fish.” (We took turns hiding the fish and using our magnet wands to play Ryan’s Magnet Magic game.)

Then the kids made bookmarks before starting in on bedtime stories. They loved flicking the fish/book—and the fishing line is perfect for keeping track of all the places they’ll go in their reading adventures!

What are some of your kids’ favorite bedtime stories?


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.