10 Fun Ways to Stay Cool This Summer

Ice Excavation

Looking for some fun ways to keep cool on hot summer days? We’ve collected our favorite outdoor activities to create with ice. And as a bonus, a recipe for homemade ice cream – no machine required.

Ice Excavation
via Crumb Bums

Water, food coloring, and little plastic toys = a frozen excavation site! Kids can chip away at the ice with spoons or toy tools, or they can melt the ice away with a hose. A great bathing suit activity!

Ice Eggs
via A Little Learning for Two

These beautiful ice eggs are created by freezing toys inside water balloons. So pretty and so engaging!

Ice Superheros
via Green Jello

Water, superhero figures, and water guns = a mission to save the world! In this clever birthday party game, the kids had to melt the ice to rescue Batman and Robin.

Ice Tunnels
via Art and Creativity

These incredible ice tunnels are both an art project and a science experiment. Just sprinkle salt on blocks of ice to melt the cracks and tunnels. Then drip liquid watercolor into the tunnels and discover the beautiful patterns the salt created.

Ice Sculpture
via The Chocolate Muffin Tree

Or you can use the same technique to create these free-form colorful ice sculptures. The ice sticks together with the salt, and dripping watercolor or food coloring reveals the holes and textures in the ice.

Ice Painting
via Share and Remember

This ice cube painting activity creates a lovely rainbow effect without the mess of tie-dying. The ice cubes are colored with liquid watercolors, and can be used on fabric or on heavy paper.

Ice Rainbow
via Sweeter Than Sweets

Rainbow ice made with food coloring or paint makes a fun addition to a water table or a wading pool. Just be sure make a lot, they go quickly!

Ice Strings
via Dukes and Duchesses

For a baby-friendly variation of rainbow ice, freeze the cubes onto a length of yarn. It’s easier for little hands to grasp and explore.

Ice Boats
via alphamom

Or for a slightly more involved water table toy, these ice boats are adorable. All you need is plastic drink cups, straws, and construction paper.

Ice Cream
via Skip To My Lou

Even preschoolers can make their own ice cream using this technique. It just takes 7 minutes, and there’s nothing better than homemade ice cream on a hot day. Enjoy!

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Sequins + a Dixie Cup = Fairy Treasure Hunt

Fairy sequins

For this 4th of July week, we’re reposting one of our favorite (and our very first!) Two Ingredient Tuesday activities, which we think is perfect for some summer fun with your kiddos this week.

Every few weeks for the past two years, my five year old has brought tiny little paper Dixie cups of sequins home from preschool.   I was a little perplexed by the origins of the treasure until about a month ago when I was volunteering in my son’s classroom.

It was reaching the end of “free play” time, and things were getting a little chaotic when I observed their teacher strolling quietly through their playground area, dropping little handfuls of sequins behind her – along the pathways and in the sand box.  The effect was amazing – one child noticed some sequins sparkling in the sunlight, and announced “treasure!”  The rest of the kids grabbed cups and began diligently picking the sequins up off the ground with their little fingers.  The whole group quieted down, focusing intently on the task at hand.  Once again, I was inspired by and in awe of the wisdom of preschool teachers… and so excited to take this little tip home with me!

Just last week, we were doing some kid-testing on projects for Kiwi Crate.  As we were wrapping up, I thought I’d try out the Fairy Treasure trick.  I strolled through the front yard (see pic below), dropping the Fairy Treasure behind me.

Then, after I distributed baggies (instead of cups – it’s what we had on hand), it was off to the races!

The kids were totally mesmerized – it was remarkable!  We played the game again and again, and it never seemed to get old (for them, at least ;)).  Sometimes, the kids tried to get as many as possible.  Other times, they were selective about the shape or color they were collecting.

It was a great way to engage them in independent play – and for them to practice their sharing and bartering skills as they displayed and swapped their treasures.

So I’ve invested in a few bags of sequins to keep on hand for those times when we have a bunch of kids over (or just my own kids are going a little stir-crazy), and I’m looking for a way to entertain them for a bit.  The experience is magical for them – and the 10-15 minutes of silent play is pretty magical for me :).

Do you have a go-to activity (involving two ingredients — or more) to engage your kids in an independent activity?


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.

Butterfly Balancing Act

It’s Bug Month at KiwiCo!  And as part of that, we’ve been learning all about bugs.  Did you know that all butterflies are perfectly symmetrical?  Unlike humans, the two halves of a butterfly – including their wing patterns – are exactly the same.

I thought a fun way to introduce the concept of symmetry to my kids was by creating these super cool Balancing Butterflies.  These butterflies rely on symmetry (in the shape and placement of the weights, not in the wing pattern), to balance.  It does seem almost like a magic trick when you make it work!

What you need:

  • 1 sheet of white paper
  • paper board (like a cereal box or cracker box)
  • tape
  • 2 pennies (or other coin – just have to be the same)
  • markers / colored pencils / crayons for decorating
  • scissors
  • chopstick & playdough or modeling clay (optional) — for balancing; you can also use a pencil w/ an eraser

Getting Started

First, fold the white paper in half and trace the body of half a butterfly (with the fold of the paper marking the middle of the body.)  Note: this white paper isn’t your final butterfly – you just use it to get a perfectly symmetrical butterfly (using the folding technique), which you’ll then trace in the next step on the paperboard…

Get your kid-helper to cut out the butterfly, then trace the butterfly onto the paperboard and cut it out.

Decorate your butterfly with whatever materials you’d like!  You can talk about how in nature, their wing patterns match… but that it’s not necessary for this project.

Tape your pennies onto each corner of the wings.  You may need to adjust the placement a bit to get the balance correct.

Finishing Touches

Place your chopstick (or whatever you’re using) into a piece of playdough or modeling clay (to hold it up)…and then carefully place the butterfly onto the stick.  You’ll need to move the butterfly around a bit to find the balance point – which will be between the two pennies and just a bit behind them.  I know it will seem impossible, and then – voila! – it will start balancing!

Now you’ve pulled off the perfect butterfly balancing act!

Pins of the Week: Summer Fun

summer fun activities for kids

Because we are obsessed with Pinterest (let’s face it, who isn’t?), every week we’re going to showcase our 5 favorite pins for you to share and repin on your own boards!

This week, say hello to summer with these refreshing pins for parties, play, and patriotism.

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

7 Easy Crafts for the 4th of July

White chocolate strawberries

We’re gearing up for the 4th of July, and we’ve gathered some our favorite crafts to dress up family celebrations.

4th of July bunting
via alphamom

The stars on this simple burlap bunting are created by stamping starfruits dipped in acrylic or fabric paint. Simple, quick, and you can eat the left-over art materials!

Coffee Filter Fireworks
via Crafts by Amanda

A bunch of these coffee filter fireworks would make a great table decoration for a 4th of July barbecue.

White chocolate strawberries
via The Sisters Cafe

Red, white, and blue strawberries make a cute and easy dessert. The tutorial calls for white chocolate, but you can replace with white candy melts for easier dipping.

Firework Pom Poms
via Make and Takes

These crafty 4th of July firework pom poms are fun for kids to make and to play with!

DIY Firework Stamps
via The Mother Huddle

These adorable firework shirts are stamped with chenille stems dipped in fabric paint. Or use the same technique on paper with regular washable paint for a toddler-friendly art project.

4th of July noisemaker
via Family Chic by Camilla Fabbri

These clever noisemakers are made from wooden spatulas tied with bells. Just thread fabric through the holes in the spatula to tie the bells on.

Rocket Kit
via Kiwi Crate

For a fun summer party craft, check out Kiwi Crate’s straw rocket party packs. Up, up, and away!


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.

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Flashlight + Glowsticks (= Bathtime Fun!)

On one of those common occasions where a bath was less than attractive to O, I lured him with the promise of a flashlight bath. We turned out the lights, turned on the flashlight, and threw in some glow sticks (got any left from your Busy with Bugs crate?) for extra excitement. This is now a go-to activity when bath time just isn’t cutting it.

First they were “glow worms.”

Then we experimented with shaking them really fast to create special effects.

We got caught in a lasso.

And even got an early start on the Olympic rings.

Warning, while this activity makes it easier to get them IN the bath, it doesn’t help with other problem – getting them out!

What’s your get-them-in-the-bath activity?

 

Buzzing Bee Noisemaker

It’s Bugs Month at Kiwi Crate, and I knew this project would be a big hit with our Kid Testing Crew. Preschool kids will definitely need some grown-up assistance getting started, but kids of all ages (and grown-ups!) can’t resist playing with this very noisy buzzing bee! It’s not just a toy, though – it’s also a fun way for kids to explore how vibrations create sound.

Buzzing Bee Materials

  • scissors
  • index card (or other stiff paper)
  • jumbo craft stick
  • sticky-back foam
  • wide rubber band
  • yarn or twine (about a yard)
  • markers
  • googly eyes (optional, but everything is better with googly eyes)

Getting Started

Start by cutting the index card into a square a couple inches shorter than the craft stick.

Now it’s time to decorate your bee. We went for black and yellow stripes with googly eyes, but feel free to decorate however you like.

When you’re happy with your bee, flip it over so it’s face-down on the table. Cut a long, thin strip of sticky foam and use that to attach the card to the stick.

Now cut four squares of the craft foam, sized so they fit over the end of the craft stick. Tape two squares onto both ends of the craft stick.

Tie the yarn onto one side of the craft stick – the sticky foam will hold it in place while the bee spins.

Finishing Touches

Finally, stretch the rubber band over the craft stick, making sure it’s not twisted. We tested several, and discovered that the rubber band needs to be really tight around the stick. It’s also important that the rubber band is wider than it is thick – narrow rubber bands won’t buzz.

Now it’s time to play. To make your bee buzz, hold the yarn and spin over your head – fast! It takes a little practice to get the bee going without bopping yourself on the head. Once you’ve got the hang of it, try experimenting with the speed of the spin. Spinning faster makes the pitch of the buzz higher. (If you’re not getting a good loud buzz, try a smaller rubber band – it need to be really, really tight around the craft stick.)

Why does it work? The buzz is the sound of the rubber band vibrating against the craft stick. The faster you spin the bee, the faster the vibration, and the higher the pitch.

Have fun with your flying, buzzing bee!

Summer Survival Kit

Now that some of my kids are in school, the beginning of summer has a lot more meaning for us: the end of school routines, the beginning of slower summer days (at least, in theory!), and an opportunity to tackle all the fun things on our Summer Bucket List.  I wanted to do something special to celebrate the start of summer with my kids, but frankly, the last week of school was just too crazy to get organized.

But did you know that today (June 21) is the Summer Solstice — the official “Start of Summer” (aka, the longest day of the year)?  So I’m giving myself an excuse for a 2nd chance at the start of summer, and we celebrated with these Summer Survival Kits.

I swung by my favorite retailer with the red bullseye yesterday for some summer essentials:

  • Swim goggles – we go through these things like socks. Seriously – how many pairs of goggles can one family lose in a summer??
  • Beach towel 
  • Books – for H, who just finished kindergarten, I got some new chapter books to read together from one of our faves, The Magic Treehouse series; plus some beginning reader ones for him to read to himself.
  • Art supplies – a nice fresh wirebound sheaf of paper (large one & small one for travel) and these awesome colored pencils.  (Have you seen the new Todd Oldham line of art supplies – Kid Made Modern – at Target? Wow.)
  • Coloring books – cuz sometimes it’s fun to just color in the lines

These are all things I would have picked up anyway to get through the summer, but putting them in a box with a fun sign made it seem much more special!  Next year, I’ll try to get it organized for the last day of school, but nobody in my house seemed to mind!

Happy Summer to you and your kiddos!

What’s in your summer survival kit?

 

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Spider Web Walk

I recently stumbled across this adorable idea on No Time for Flashcards, and thought it’d be a perfect activity to try out for one of our Two Ingredient Tuesday projects.  All you really need is:

  • Masking Tape — OR if you’re doing this outside, you can use sidewalk chalk
  • Pipe cleaners — or really anything to function as a “bug” to catch in your web.  You could certainly use some “real” toy bugs… or even, as you’ll see later, cars.  (Cars stuck in a spider web?? Why not, say my boys – never sticklers for reality.)

 

First, build your web.  You can see my design below… This was fun to do with masking tape – and it stood up well to jumping around on it, but, as I mentioned above, you could totally do with sidewalk chalk if you have that on hand and if you’re doing this outside.
I put a star on the middle to mark the “starting spot” (and it later became the “finish line”).

Next, create your bugs.  I just took pipe cleaners and folded a couple loops for wings and wrapped it around to create something like a body.  Really, you could just scrunch the pipe cleaner up (which is not far from what we did), and call it a bug.  Or, grab some rocks or paper, and give your “bugs” wings and eyes with a marker.

Then, the fun begins!  Here’s how we played the game:

  • Each player starts in the middle and gets 4 bugs
  • Scatter your bugs across the web (you could say you have to put one in each quadrant, and have a mini geometry lesson!)
  • The player then scoots out on her web to gather up each bug.  You can place different rules for each round on how the spider must collect her prey: walk on tip-toe, hop on one foot, etc.
  • We timed each person to see how long it took them to collect all the bugs.

It was pretty fun, and a great gross-motor activity to practice balancing on the web and bending down to collect your flies.

After a bit of this, my kids decide to incorporate a new prop into the game: the ever-present Matchbox cars.  So game variation #2 was born:

  • Line up your cars & divide them into 2 teams (or however many players you have)
  • Take turns giving your cars a big push toward the center of the web
  • Any cars NOT touching the web after all cars have been pushed are deemed OUT, and are removed from the web
  • Keep repeating the rounds until only one car is left

We completely stretched the spider web metaphor beyond its breaking point, but the kids thought this one was really fun, so please excuse the randomness of this game.

We’ve had lots of fun with masking tape here and hereWhat are your favorite masking tape activities?

 

Handmade Coupon Book for Father’s Day

Fathers Day Coupons Supplies

I have a confession: I have made absolutely no plans for Father’s Day. Fortunately, my husband was rescued from a day with no gifts, thanks to this handy printable coupon book.

Handmade Coupon Book Materials

  • Paper and the Fathers Day Coupons Printable (download the PDF)
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Hole Punch
  • Ribbon or Twine
  • Other embellishments (optional!)

First we cut out the coupons, them moved right into brainstorming what special gifts Daddy would like. I wanted to provide some structure, since given no direction I knew that my 3-year-old would just draw a bunch of smiley faces and my 6-year-old would fill the entire book with race cars. So before handing out pens to the kids, I started them off with a couple ideas and asked them to think of some more.

Ideas for Things Daddy Would Like

  1. A big hug
  2. A nap on the couch (without getting jumped on)
  3. …..

The other ideas they came up with were “Building with LEGO cars”, “Watching Mythbusters”, and “Having dessert”.

My initial response was that we were talking about nice things for Daddy, and those suggestions were nice things for little boys. But I was overruled by my 6-year-old, who correctly pointed out that Daddy liked all of those things just as much as he did. So in they went, along with (of course) some drawings of race cars and smiley faces.

This was a very fun project to do together, and I know that Daddy is going to love his coupons. We’d love to hear what you’re up to Father’s Day – tell us in the comments!

For more gift ideas, check out 6 Father’s Day Gifts That Kids Can Make.