Back-to-School Creativity Tip #2: Design a Discovery Zone!

Over the next several weeks, we’ll share 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 #2: Design a Discovery Zone! Creating space around the home for your kids to…well, be kids will help open up a world of imagination. Here are some ways that you can make room for creativity in the home:

  • Encourage your budding engineers. By making forts and tinkering with construction toys, children learn how to find creative solutions, think independently, and imagine new uses for common items. Somehow, some sofa cushions and a bundle of blankets are all it takes to keep kids occupied for hours!
via BUILDblog

 

  • Send the message that it’s okay to get dirty! By creating an area where your kids can play to their hearts’ content, you’re also setting up healthy boundaries. You’re making it clear that there’s a time and place for different kinds of play. You can concoct a crafting corner, put together a pea gravel sandbox, or even stock up on supplies for a marvelous mud pie kitchen.
via Joyful Home

 

  • Give kids a blank slate to create. Did you know that Maria Montessori was one of the first educators to put child-sized furniture in classrooms for very young kids? She believed in the importance of tailoring a child’s learning environment to the child.
    Thankfully, creating a kid-friendly environment doesn’t mean filling a room with expensive toys and video games. Instead, it simply means giving imagination room to grow. Basic supplies like crayons and paper (or, in the case below, chalk and one very nifty desk) go a long way in encouraging creativity. Keeping activities and crafts open-ended gives kids a sense of security; since there’s not one “right” way to do or make something, kids feel free to think outside the box.
via Warm Hot Chocolate

 

  • Stock up on pretend props. Imaginative play helps kids brainstorm new possibilities, express emotions, and consider situations from other people’s perspectives.
    You can build up your child’s treasure trove of pretend props in simple ways. For example, donate that silk scarf or old pair of sunglasses you haven’t worn in years to the dress-up bin. Or visit neighborhood garage sales for play props, like small briefcases or costume jewelry. (A garage sale junkie’s insider’s tip: Forget about the early bird getting the worm; the later you get to a sale, the more likely it is that the proprietors will just be giving stuff away!)As your child starts thinking about returning to school (or going to school for the very first time!), you can role play together about what being in a classroom might be like.
via Rambling Renovators

 

  •  Support your child’s interests—and see where it takes them. When I was watching Spencer work on his train puzzle, I was reminded of an acquaintance whose childhood fascination with choo-choos inspired him to build a business that manufactures historically accurate model trains.By letting your child take the lead on exploring new topics, you’ll be certain that his or her interest in a subject grows organically. If your little one’s obsessed with maps, then by all means let her be if all she wants to borrow from the library this week are atlases. Who knows—you may have a future cartographer on your hands!
via Better Homes and Gardens


What are some ways that you’ve created a discovery zone in your home?

 


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 Essentials Giveaway

back to school giveaway sweepstakes kiwi crate School is (almost) back in session! Help your littles get a fresh start for the school year with our Back to School Creative Essentials Giveaway!

You could win one of 5 prize packages, which include everything you need to fulfill your child’s creative learning needs!

Plus, refer a friend and your winning backpack could contain a shiny new iPad just for you! The more people you refer, the more chances you have to win the Grand Prize. ipad 2

Grand Prize (1):

A $100 Pottery Barn Kids gift card (that can be redeemed for a backpack and other back-to-school gear), creativity essentials from Kiwi Crate, a 3-month subscription to Kiwi Crate, and a shiny new iPad (for mom or dad, of course!). Approx retail value: $700.00.

First Prize (4):

A $100 Pottery Barn Kids gift card (that can be redeemed for a backpack and other back-to-school gear), creativity essentials from Kiwi Crate, and a 3-month subscription to Kiwi Crate. Approx. retail value: $200.00.

Open to U.S. Residents Only.

Enter here.

Good luck!

Two-Ingredient Tuesday: Paper + Crayons = Negative Space Drawing

 

This simple project was a hit during a recent testing session at Kiwi Crate HQ. Experimenting with negative space (the space around and between objects) bolsters spatial thinking skills…and is just plain fun!

You’ll need:

  • a sheet of paper with simple shapes cut out (e.g., circles, triangles, squares)
  • crayons

Keep this activity open-ended: Invite your kid to draw and see what happens!

Older kids may want more direction, in which case you can say it’s up to them whether they want to incorporate the shape(s) into a picture or draw whatever else they want.

Anya (age 5) created “a kiwi playing with a ball.”

Younger kids are often unfazed by the negative space and may require less instruction. They may simply scribble around the shapes or ignore them completely. (If your child is very young, line the workspace with a brown paper bag—just in case!)

Peter (age 3) did a little of both. At first, he drew around one of the circles. Then he started scribbling across the page. “This is hard work!” he informed me as he colored.

Then my little performance artist slipped his arms through the holes to create a 3-D masterpiece. (See the first photo. I don’t know about you, but I crack up every time I see his mischievous eyes.) What a visionary!

The activity kept Christina (age 3) occupied for a longer time. She carefully drew blue circles around the larger hole, and then added splashes of color.

Let us know what your mini Matisse comes up with!


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 #1: Inspire Creativity With A Countdown Chain!

Over the next several weeks, we’ll share 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 #1: Inspire Creativity With A Countdown Chain! Kick off the countdown by creating a paper chain featuring an inquisitive kiwi named Kiwi. This DIY calendar is an easy way for kids to understand how many days they have left until the Big Day.

All you’ll need are:

1. Cut the printable along the dotted lines to create 20 strips of paper.

2. Find the strip of paper that says “1.” Glue or tape the ends together to form a link. (Make sure the illustration is on the outside.) Thread the strip of paper that says “2” through the link that says “1” to form a chain. Then thread “3” through “2,” and so on and so forth! (As an alternative option, you can also string the strips along some yarn to create a banner.)

3. 20 days before the start of school, start tearing off one paper link for every day that passes. First tear off “20,” then count down from there.

Each day’s link features a word that will inspire your child to get creative. So go on, “play,” “ponder,” and “build” together during your summer of discovery!

 


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.

Playlist: Favorite (non-cheesy) Kid Tunes

The Green Album

The right playlist can turn a long car ride into a family sing-along, help a child relax for bedtime, or even defuse sibling squabbles. Music has always been an important part of our family time, but lately I found we were getting into a bit of rut.

So I decided to refresh our music library and bring some of our old favorites back into our family playlist. Here are some of the albums that always make both me and my kids want to sing along.

They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants are the hands-down favorites with my kids. Their songs are so catchy and fun to listen to, I (almost) never mind hitting repeat. We love all three of their “learning” albums; Here Come the ABCs, Here Come the 123s, and Here Comes Science.

For The Kids

The three For The Kids albums have a nice mix of mellow indie originals and covers of classic kids tunes. The very sweet See You On The Moon (on For The Kids Three) is so good I’ve added it to my own playlist as well!

The Green Album

Of course no kids music list would be complete without muppets! Muppets: The Green Album has some great new covers of great old songs. It’s not Kermit, but this The Rainbow Connection just might make you tear up a little bit.

Really Rosie

Carole King’s Really Rosie is a gem. The songs are based on characters in Maurice Sendak’s books, and they are just as quirky and fun as you’d expect. And Alligators All Around is amazingly alliterative.

Ella Jenkins

This is a great album for singing along and playing with call-and-response style folk songs. My kids love that there are kids singing along on these recordings, and I love that it encourages them to join in. And On A Holiday is a fun way to kick off a long car ride.

Finally, I wanted to share three of my absolute favorites; these are the songs I’ll put on repeat even if my kids aren’t around.

Over the Rainbow
by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
I could listen to this medley of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “What A Wonderful World” all day. So mellow and so happy, you can’t help but smile.

Crayola Doesn’t Make a Color for Your Eyes
by Kristin Andreassen
This song makes me think of my kids and a fresh box of crayons — a few of my favorite things!

Puff, the Magic Dragon
by Peter, Paul and Mary
I cry every single time I hear this song. It makes me see my little boys and picture them growing up and getting big.

We’d love to hear your favorite kids tunes in the comments!

 


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.

 

Kiwi Crate & thredUP Giveaway

thredup giveaway kiwi crate

thredup giveaway kiwi crate
 

We’re so excited to team up with our well-dressed pals at thredUP for this stylin’ giveaway!

If you didn’t know, thredUP is the easiest way to save on great kids clothing brands (think Oilily, Mini Boden, Tea Collection, Hanna Andersson, Guess, Ralph Lauren, Janie & Jack & more) and hand down outgrown clothes for cash. It basically acts as a super convenient consignment boutique. With ThredUP you can refresh your child’s entire wardrobe online, without ever leaving your house.

One lucky winner will get two free months of Kiwi Crate plus $40 to spend on like-new duds at thredUP.

Enter on Facebook between August 8th and September 5th for a chance to win. The winner will be announced on September 6th.

Sanity Saver: Breakfast Burritos

Mornings always feel a bit crazy, and I am forever looking for ways to simplify and speed up our morning routine. With my two boys, it seems there is always something that keeps us from getting out the door on time – no matter what time we get up, and how much I plan. I also want to get a healthy breakfast with some protein in their bellies before we head out the door, otherwise I know that their transition to school doesn’t go as well.

One thing that has helped are my mini breakfast burritos. I’ve shared these with many friends who say they now make them all the time. You can make them a day or two ahead, and just heat them up in a couple of minutes on the stove or microwave, add fruit and a good breakfast is ready in minutes.

– scrambled eggs (I make a batch of scrambled eggs at dinner or extra on another morning.)
– small tortilla
– shredded cheese of preference
– salt and pepper to taste

Pile the eggs and cheese in the tortilla and fold into a little burrito. I wrap them in cellophane and refrigerate and they hold their shape quite well. The next day I either quickly microwave for about 20 seconds, or toss them in a pan to heat and toast them.

For variety, I sometimes add veggies to the eggs, mix in a precooked chicken apple sausage, and serve it with fruit salad, or avocado and sour cream. My kids love them, and I love how simple they make our morning!


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: Shaving Cream + Toys = Summer Snow City!

We’ve previously explored the fun of shaving cream, but the fun doesn’t stop there. How about a snow city in the middle of summer?

You just need shaving cream and your favorite little toys. In O’s case, mostly trucks, but we threw in a bear and some people for more exploration.

First the snowplow had to plow the roads.

Then the bear turned into a snow rhino.

O decided this woman needed a new hairstyle and an “ice mask”.

We ended up throwing in ice cubes at the end and O had the people ice skating on them!

O dubbed it “ice town”. A fun and easy activity that will keep kids occupied a surprisingly long time – and it’s fun to do in summer when it’s hot outside!

Create a Craft Stick Puzzle

 

Ah, the craft stick—that most ubiquitous of art supplies!

Craft sticks have fortified countless cabins, propped up innumerable paper puppets, and provided the framework for frames beyond measure. Their versatility makes them a favorite around these parts. And if you’re really lucky, you can obtain them the old-fashioned way. (By snacking on Popsicles!)

Craft stick puzzles build up patterning and sequencing skills—plus they’re a hit with kids of all ages!

(by Emmeline, age 6)

You’ll need:

  • washable markers
  • craft sticks
  • tape

1. Line your sticks up in a row.

2. Tape the sticks.

You may need some grownup assistance with this step…then again, maybe not!

2. Turn the sticks over. Use the markers to draw anything you’d like.

(by Spencer, age 4)

(by Jake, age 4)

(by Julia, age 6)

3. Peel the tape off the sticks.

4. Mix up the sticks, and put together your puzzle.

You can assemble your own project…
…or exchange your puzzle with a friend!

Happy puzzlin’!


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.

Sanity Saver – Building Block Puzzle Cards

LEGO bricks

LEGO bricks

For my 6-year-old, the best toy is a brand-new LEGO set to build. He loves to carefully follow the instructions, which is why I was so excited to find these instructions for DIY LEGO Instruction Books from Kids Activities Blog. For my little building fans, this is a great activity to bring the energy level down and focus – for a little while, at least!

Puzzle cards

I created two sets of cards so the game would be fun for both my kids. I just photographed on a light background and printed on cardstock. Printing the pictures at 4 by 6 inches gave me roughly life-size LEGO shapes.

For my 3-year-old, I created some simple shapes out of Duplo blocks. And for my car-obsessed 6-year-old, I grabbed some of the little vehicles from our LEGO bin.

Puzzles and cars

Then I turned the kids loose with their puzzle cards. My 6-year-old raced through building each one and then asked for more. We’ll definitely be bringing out our puzzle cards again for pre-dinner playtime!

Building the car


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.