DIY Binoculars

You can’t have a safari without binoculars! These easy cardboard binoculars are easy to create with materials out of the recycling bin.

DIY Binoculars Materials

  • cardboard tubes
  • colorful paper tape or duct tape
  • rubber bands
  • sticky felt or other decorations (optional)
  • ribbon or yarn
  • hole punch

Tape is a fun material for this project since even very young kids can use it to decorate the tubes. We found it much easier to decorate each tube separately, and then tape them together afterwards.

So we taped… and taped… and taped. My 6-year-old was very careful to select “good safari colors” for his decorations, and wanted to make sure every inch was covered!

My plan at this point was to just attach the tubes together, but my son insisted that he needed something between them so “my nose will fit”. So we improvised, and taped on a couple empty tape rolls. We had several to due to excessive tape usage in the first step.

Then, more tape around the whole thing to attach both tubes together.

At this point I was planning on punching a hole in each tube to tie on some ribbon, but again my son took over the project and decided to attach his new binoculars to a safety lanyard he brought home from camp. He then ran off to collect some toy animals for us to search for on our safari.

Finishing Touches

While animals were being fetched, I created a second pair for my 3-year-old, using slightly less tape this time. Instead of taping the two sides together, I used two rubber bands. To add a little extra reinforcement, I also taped the ends together with a piece of sticky felt

Finally, I punched holes in the ends and threaded some ribbon through, and we were ready to head out on safari!

We walked to the park with our basket of animals and took turns hiding and finding. Happy safari searching!

Create a Colorful Coffee Filter Caterpillar

My friends Max (6) and Violet (8) are really into bugs. They loved our Bug Crate and were excited to explore some more insect activities.

I had tried a grown-up version of this craft when making coffee filter garlands for a summer picnic, and thought it would adapt really well for an activity with kids. This is a perfect project for a bug-themed party, complete with your new caterpillar for decor and a station for guests to make their own butterfly wings!

All you need to do to create a colorful caterpillar is to dye some coffee filters, make a caterpillar head, and string everything together. This step-by-step guide will show you how to do exactly that.

Step 1: Dye the Caterpillar’s Body

While I gathered supplies, Max and Violet read that familiar heartwarming tale about an insatiable dreamer who hungered for a better life:

…then we were ready to start!

To create the caterpillar’s segmented body, you’ll need:

  • coffee filters (we used a whole box of about 250. It goes fast though, because you can dye the filters in stacks)
  • empty yogurt container
  • water
  • spoon
  • liquid watercolors

1. Add a dollop of liquid watercolor to the yogurt container. Add a little water, then give the mixture a stir.

2. Grab some coffee filters, and dip the edges into the mixture. Rotate your hand so that the filters absorb all the liquid.

3. Experiment! The kids double-dipped the filters, which created cool kaleidoscopic effects. Max was particularly proud of his camouflage design. (See middle row, left.)

4. Dry the filters overnight.

Step 2: Create the Caterpillar’s Head

An empty tissue box is the perfect thing to use for your caterpillar’s head. You can decorate it with whatever doodads and thingamajigs you have around the house. (We used construction paper, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, googly eyes, and buttons.)

Step 3: Assemble the Caterpillar

1. Peel the dried coffee filters.

2. Poke a hole through the coffee filters.  A grown up can do this in bulk with an X-Acto knife; you can get the kiddos to help out doing it one at a time with a chopstick or a pencil.

3. String the coffee filters up on a piece of twine or yarn.  Note: If you tape the yarn to a chopstick, you can poke it through a bunch of coffee filters at once.

4. Cut two small holes in the tissue box and pull the end of the string through. To make the caterpillar look like it’s turning its head, position one hole at the top of the head, and the other hole where the caterpillar’s ear should be (if caterpillars had ears!).

Ta-da—your very own coffee filter caterpillar! Max and Violet didn’t want a two-headed caterpillar, so they agreed to trade off which head would adorn the yard each week.

If you have any coffee filters left over, you can make butterflies to show what your caterpillar becomes when he “grows up”!

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Yarn + Pipe Cleaners = My Initials

When I saw these beautiful yarn letters from giddygiddy, I knew I had to try these with my kids. We had a lot of fun with it, and for kids working on learning reading skills it’s a great tactile way to work on letters.

Shaping the First Letter

We started out following the suggestion giddygiddy to form the pipe cleaner letter first and then wrap with pretty yarn. My friend’s tween daughter immediately created this this lovely scripty ‘m’, which will make a lovely addition to her bulletin board.

However, we found the younger kids had a little trouble wrapping the yarn when they formed the letter first. So in consultation with my 6-year-old, we developed this simplified technique.

We started by wrapping the yarn around the pipe cleaner. To anchor the end of the yarn and keep it from slipping, just pinch over the tip of the pipe cleaner to make a little hook.

Wrapping the Yarn

And then it’s easy to wrap the yarn around… and around… and around. I was surprised by how well this worked, even for a 4-year-old. I only had to help tie off the end so the yarn wouldn’t unravel.

Then once the yarn is all wrapped, the pipe cleaner can be bent and formed however you like.

Final Touches

I had a selection of lovely tasteful colors as well, but of course my 6-year-old only wanted to use the rainbow and fuzzy yarns. And as always he had his own ideas of where he wanted to take the project, and decided he wanted to create this series of fuzzy numbers.

We were quite pleased with how these came out! The pipe cleaners are such a fun way to play with letter formation, and the finished products make a really nice decoration to hang on a bedroom door or to display on a bookshelf.

6 Creative Ideas to Celebrate the Olympics!

olympics ideas for kids

We are so excited for the Olympics! While we’re not exactly world-class athletes competing for gold medals (is crafting a sport?), we are still enthused spectators who love watching and rooting for our favorites!

To get you pumped for the summer games, we’ve selected six super-fun family-friendly ways to celebrate the spirit of the Olympics. Ready, get set, scroll below!

Now everyone can go for the gold with these quick and easy salt dough Olympic medals!

The iconic lighting of the Olympic Flame has long been a symbol of the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games. While you may not be in London, you can still carry the flame with this DIY torch.

This Olympic-themed fruit pizza wins the all-around award for most tasty snack!

Do you know that the interlocking Olympic rings represent each of the five different continents that participate in the games? Showcase your Olympic spirit and make your own homemade coffee filter rings.

Feeling competitive? Throw your own Olympics-themed party – design your own sporting events and experience your own mini-competitions at home! Click here for party ideas and inspiration.

These incredibly easy-to-make fireworks in a jar are a bright and colorful way to celebrate the great victories at the games!

What Olympic events are you and your family most excited about?

Pins of the Week: Go Outside and Play!

outside play ideas for kids

We are completely smitten with these 5 pins that encourage creative and unique ways to play in the great outdoors. So, turn off the air conditioning, go outside, and treat your family to a one-of-a-kind backyard adventure!

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

Sanity Saver: “Draw Your Day” Printable Placemats

Does everyone else deal with the “dinnertime sprint”?  No matter how the day has gone – whether I’ve been at work all day and roll in to hear the starting gun go off, or if I’ve been home all day (in theory with some time to prep) — it’s always a gong show at our house, right when I need to be getting dinner ready.

I’m trying to come up with some activities to keep my 3 kiddos occupied and disentangled from my leg for 20 minutes or so – at least long enough to get dinner mostly prepared.

Our wonderful designers at Kiwi Crate came up with these awesome printable placemats for me – aren’t they great?  The idea is you ask your kids to “draw their day”… and then they can use them as placemats at dinner.  They’re also a great conversation starter for the dinner table.

We have three different versions: Draw what you did today, draw something that made you happy, draw something you made today.  Download them here and print out a stack of all of them, and you’ll be set for dinner prep for the next few weeks!  (Of course, you don’t have to use them as placemats; these would also be great to bring on an airplane ride or to a restaurant.)

My kids really got into them (see below), and I was actually able to get dinner ready (almost) on time.  Whew.  Til tomorrow-

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Stuffed Animals + Pillowcase = Safari Charades

Looking for a fun activity to fill some of those long, summer afternoons?  This is a winner, and sure to bring lots of giggles to you & your little ones.  All you need is:

  • Animals (stuffed or plastic)
  • Pillowcase

Have your kids (and their friends – this is a great playdate activity) gather up all the animals in the house.  You might want to make sure everyone knows what animals you have by introducing each one and asking the kids to describe what sounds they make.  Then pop them all in the pillowcase.

Pick the kid who will be the first actor (sometimes we do youngest, or oldest, or whoever’s name has an H in it, etc), and have them carefully pull an animal from the pillowcase.  Do it in a place (behind the sofa, in the bathroom) where the rest of the troops can’t see.  Then they have to act out the animal so the others can guess what it is.  Encourage them to really get into “character”: make noises, get down on all fours, or even describe the animal with words — whatever is developmentally appropriate for their age – they just can’t say the name of the animal out loud.

We had a blast with our “indoor safari” – hope you do too!


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3-7, 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.

Summer Travel – Personal Snack Boxes

Kiwi Crate Snack Boxes

When my two boys were young, I flew back east quite often with them. For the first few trips, they would cry and yell over wanting the airplane snack boxes. I didn’t mind buying them, but the items inside were not good for them. I would bring my own snacks – healthy items that I wanted them to eat, but those weren’t good enough. I realized quickly that it was the magic of the little personal sized box and the mini packaged items inside that they were so enamored with.

On my next trip, I decided to create my own snack boxes — and they were a hit. So instead of my kids noshing on oreos and processed meat in tube form, I was able to give them food that I could feel good about, and provide the excitement of the personalized little box like everyone else on the airplane.

I just grabbed a couple of the salad boxes, and the dressing containers (+ lids) from my local grocery store, filled them up, and put a little personalized label on top. You could put anything inside, but here are a few ideas from my kids favorites to get you started:

  • almond butter sandwich
  • durable fruit, like an apple or banana
  • some favorite nuts or trail mix
  • bunny grahams or cheese crackers
  • fruit leather
  • veggie or pirate booty
  • granola bar

Don’t forget to include a couple of napkins and a baggie for the garbage! I usually include a little produce bag so they can throw the trash into it when they are done.

I now do this on all our flights and road trips, varying the ingredients inside by how long the boxes need to stay intact and what their favorite snacks are at the moment. The other reason these are great, is instead of having that panic on a road trip of hungry kids and having to stop repeatedly, they are able to snack on what they want, as they are hungry. It has saved me from many “I’m hungry right now!!!” breakdowns from my youngest, who never alerts me to when he’s feeling hungry until we’re past the point of no return.

Happy summer travels!

Summer of Giving Charity Kick Off!

This summer, Kiwi Crate is committed to giving back to the community by reaching out to kids who need our help. So we’ve teamed up with a few of our favorite bloggers and charities to set up the Summer of Giving!

For each new Kiwi Crate subscription ordered, we will donate one crate full of arts, crafts, and science activities to a children’s charity.

Each week, we’ll benefit a different organization:

Now, you can help bring creativity and inspiration to children in need.

*The Kid Blogger Network is a collective of bloggers devoted to inspiring children’s creativity. Summer of Giving participants include: Tinkerlab, Creative Family Fun, Edventures with Kids Famiglia and SeoulGlittering MuffinsMake Do and FriendMamasmiles, Plain Vanilla Mom, Playdough to PlatoThe Golden GleamThe Good Long Road, and Train Up a Child.

Pin it to Win it!

Help us spread the word about the Summer of Giving by pinning this page on Pinterest!

We’ll give away one 3-month subscription to Kiwi Crate to one lucky pinner.

To enter:

1.     Follow Kiwi Crate on Pinterest.

2.     Pin the above “Summer of Giving” picture for a chance to win!

We will choose at random one winner on August 13, 2012. Good luck!

Pins of the Week: Cool Off With Sweet Summer Treats

ice cream and cold treats for summer time

It’s Pinterest Friday and this week we thought we’d highlight a few pins that make our taste buds sweat! We love these 5 luscious, ice-cold treats to beat the summer heat.

Frozen Yogurt Strawberry Pops by Must Have Cute
Whatta Melon Pop! by Family Fun
Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag by I Can Teach My Child
Kiwi Pops by weelicious
Fruit Salad Ice Cream Cones by Bakers Royale

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