Two Ingredient Tuesday: Colander and Pipe Cleaners = Turkey

Rainy days are here and this project kept O busy for a long time – colanders have lots of holes!

Just stick the pipe cleaners into the holes in the colander where ever you’d like – you can also bend them over to make feathers, wings, a tail, and a head.

During the course of making our turkey, O declared it a “fire boat”, added hoses to it, and removed its head.

During naptime mommy turned it back into a turkey for demo purposes 😉

Such easy set up and tons of fun – when you’re done, you can pull all the pipe cleaners out and start again!

Can’t wait to hear what your kids turn the colander into!

Dinosaur Soap

It’s Dinosaur month here at Kiwi Crate, so we’ve been trying out all kinds of dinosaur activities at my house.  I saw a few different versions of this idea online and it looked like fun — plus it’s a great incentive to convince my kids to get in the bath!

I combined the directions from this source and this one (but don’t follow the latter’s directions — the proportions of gelatin to water are wrong).  Note: this soap is more of a jelly consistency than a solid, so it’s probably better for playing in the bathtub than washing hands at the sink.

Dinosaur Soap Ingredients

  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (I’m pretty sure flavored Jell-O won’t work)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp iodized salt
  • 1/2 cup bubble bath or bath gel
  • Food coloring
  • Plastic dinosaurs
  • Mold (I used an aluminum bread pan; it would be more fun to use a clear glass bread pan if you have one)
  • Small bowl

**You’ll notice a cookie cutter in the picture above; I ended up not using it, but had already taken the picture.  Consider it just a perch for your dinosaurs. 🙂

Getting Started

First, empty the packet of gelatin into the bowl.  Then, (this is an adult step,) pour in the hot water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.

Measure the bubble bath (or bath gel) and add to the bowl with the gelatin.

Next stir in the food coloring; we used 20-30 drops.  It was so fun for S not to have to stop after 2-3 drops! Then add the salt.

Pour the mixture into the mold.  As I said, we used this bread pan, but I wish that we had a glass dish — it would have been cooler to see the dinosaurs through the sides.

Then send your dinosaurs in for a swim!  In order to cut the soap bars out later, you’ll want to try to arrange the dinosaurs so they’re not too close.

Place your dinosaur-gelatin-soap in the fridge for about an hour (it will harden just like real Jell-O!)

You can cut it out your soap with a butter knife (or a cookie cutter if you want to get fancy.)

Of course if it’s not dinosaur month at your house, you can feel free to suspend any creatures you’d like in your soap!  I can imagine bugs, butterflies or fairies would be fun too.

Ice Excavation

On a trip to Michael’s a few months ago, my son talked me into this $5 set of Dinosaur skulls.  We played with them at the beach this summer, pretending to be paleontologists digging up fossils in the sand.  I rediscovered them again this week as I was doing our quarterly playroom purge, and as we head into winter, I thought it would be fun to move our fossil excavation to the Ice Caps (well, sort of – we are in Northern California, so the Ice Age does feel very far away.)

To get us set up, I filled Dixie cups with water and dropped the dinosaur skulls in.  Two of them I stuck right into the freezer; the other two I tried filling first with a bit of water (1/4″ or so), freezing for 30 minutes, and then adding the dino skulls and more water — so we’d have a thicker layer of ice on top of the skulls.  To be honest, it didn’t seem to make a huge difference in the outcome, so I’d say you could go either way.

After 24 hrs in the freezer, we popped them right out of the Dixie Cups.  I placed them on top of a paper towel on a baking sheet, to contain the melting ice.

S & I discussed what tools a paleontologist would use to excavate fossils from ice, and what ones she might need.  We decided on a (kid) knife, a pumpkin carver, and hot water.  She started out using a straw to drop the water on the ice (a pipette or water dropper would be even better, if you have one)…

…but decided that was too slow, so moved on to using a teaspoon to speed things up a bit.


After 10 minutes or so, we started to see some results!  She was very excited to see the fossils starting to emerge…

At this point, S decided it was time to move to the Big Gun, so she grabbed the little pumpkin carving tool left over from Halloween (I watched her to make sure she was good to handle this on her own.)  (Can you tell that she’s a Biter, not a Licker, with her lollipops??)


She continued until she had almost completely freed the fossil from the ice / it had melted into the baking pan.  She was so proud of her paleontology skills!

Bonus fun: we repeated this again with the other two Dixie cups when big brother H got home from school, and discovered that a baking sheet + a little water + a frozen puck = a great mini hockey game!



Dinos | Chocolate Chip Cookie Excavation

Paleontologists dig up and study fossils of plants and animals, such as dinosaurs.  A paleontologist’s job is a hard and time consuming one.  It’s very hard to dig up dinosaur fossils without damaging them.  Paleontologists use various tools, such as shovels, picks and brushes to excavate (fancy word for “dig up”) fossils.

Now it’s your turn to be a paleontologist!  Pretend the chocolate chips in your cookie are fossils and carefully dig them out with your toothpick.

Celery & Food Coloring Experiment

It all started with the little water dropper that came in our “Colorful Inspiration” Kiwi Crate.  My 4 year-old son pleaded to open his crate, specifically because he wanted to play with his pipette.

So, we used it to mix colored water, an activity that can seemingly keep him occupied for eternity, or at least until he’s reached mixing saturation indicated by all water turning a dark-brownish purple color. We’ve done this a few times.

This time I wanted to see if we could learn about something new using the colored water, so I searched one of our favorite blogs and found a cool-looking celery experiment on TinkerLab.

When I told H we were going to do a celery experiment, he was ready to get chopping! After a bit of thought, I decided to let him cut the veggies himself. The lesson turned out to be a good one in knife safety! He was feeling like such a big boy.


Next he added food color to water and watched wide-eyed as clouds of primary colors swirled around in the clear liquid. Though a simple action, it’s a nice way to introduce the concept of density since the dye sinks to the bottom of the glass.

Now it was time to soak the celery in the dye.


And wait… So in the meantime, he mixed more colored water using the little dropper that jump-started our science project adventure.


And after about 20 minutes, we started checking out our celery.

I was attempting the best way to photograph the teeny dots of color from the end of the stalk, when H grabbed a stalk, ripped it open, and clearly exposed the inside of the celery.

After about an hour, the dye had made its way into the leafy green tops. I set it on the table so H could discover the change on his own. When he did, he was thrilled and excitedly explained to Dad, “The blue water got to the leaves because of the teeny tiny tubes sucking the water up like a straw!”

If you leave the celery in the dye overnight, the leaves get almost completely saturated by color. We were all amazed by the vibrant blue-colored leaves. In the picture below, I placed a green leaf to the lower right for comparison.

The science: When you water the soil of your plants, how does the water travel from the soil into the plant and out to the leaves? Tiny tubes (xylem) draw the water up from the roots like a straw. It works by a capillary action. The water molecules suck up inside the tiny tubes and move up and out to the leaves as if someone was sucking on the end of the tubes. The suction actually occurs as a result of water in the leaves evaporating very slowly.

Two-Ingredient Tuesday: Leaves & Contact Paper = Fall Placemats

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, my kids create these simple-to-make placemats for all of our guests.

First, we take a bag and head outside for a nature walk.  We love wearing our cozy fleeces in the crisp autumn air!  This year, we walked around our neighborhood, gathering leaves.  Other years, we’ve gone out on hiking trials searching for colorful leaves. The conversation centered on the colors of the leaves.  We started with what colors my kids observed.  “Red, yellow, orange, green, purple leaves!” they exclaimed.  Oh…purple?  As it turns out, the dark red/maroon leaves actually look dark purple.  I find it so fun and inspiring when my kids observe something that I don’t.  Today, I learned that leaves turn purple!

Then, we stated to talk about why the leaves turn colors.  My 4.5 year old explained, “Because it’s fall, Mommy.”  How very true.  We talked about how, in the fall, it gets cooler and the sun doesn’t stay out as long.  So, the green color (chlorophyll), which likes warm weather and sun, goes away, and you can see yellow and red.

Back home, we selected leaves for each mat.  For each mat, we cut two pieces of Contact paper.  (We cut off ~12 inches from the roll for each piece.)

First, unpeel one piece and leave it sticky side up.  Add leaves to the sticky side.

After decorating it with leaves, add the other piece of Contact paper to sandwich the leaves.  Then, you have your placemat!

It also looks quite nice in the window.

We’re making 10 placemats for our Thanksgiving table.  The kids have started to do make patterns with the leaves, and add words on little pieces of paper to add to the mats.  My daughter is now expanding beyond leaves to include drawings and felt to make people/family placemats because she’s “thankful for her family.” We look forward to celebrating that and much more at Thanksgiving!


Felt Leaf Garland

As I mentioned in my Fall Bucket List post, I looove Fall.  The light, the smells, the leaves… But the color show we get with the turning leaves in the Fall out here in California isn’t as showy as those you enjoy on the East coast — so I thought it would be fun to make our own Fall Leaf Garland, as colorful as we want it to be!  Plus, I’ve been looking for a good “sewing” project I could do with my 4-year old.  Working with a blunt tapestry needle and felt is great practice for fine motor skills – and great fun, to boot.

All you need is felt, yarn and a tapestry needle.  You can find tapestry needles at any craft / fabric store; I like these because the points are sharp enough to penetrate the felt, but safe for small people to work with.  (Note: I also found even blunter plastic needles but those weren’t quite sharp enough to push easily through the felt.)

Now, about those leaves… At first I tried to get my kids involved in this part of the project.  I invited them to draw pictures of leaves (or trace some leaf cookie cutters we have) and cut them out.  They had a great time drawing on the felt, but had a hard time producing leaves that were a) easy to cut out or b) big enough to use in making the garland.  Also, I found the (cheap) felt I bought was hard to cut with kid scissors, so sharp, grown-up scissors were required.  So, in the end, I hijacked this part of the project and did the set up myself.  A google image search gave me some ideas to copy, so I drew the leaves and cut them out.  If your kids can handle sharp scissors safely, you can recruit them to help out with this part.

Then all you need to do is thread the needle and knot the yarn at the bottom, and you are good to go!  (Note: I tied the two free ends of the yarn together at the bottom after threading the needle, so S wouldn’t have to worry about it pulling out of the needle as she sewed.  Not sure that was absolutely necessary – the double thickness of the yarn probably made it more likely to get tangled.)

I watching the concentration on their faces!

There are certainly lots of ways you could sew the leaves together, depending on your / your kid’s sewing skills and patience.  We just chose to do a simple up / down on each leaf (you can tell I’m not a seamstress either – there’s probably a proper term for that stitch!)  You can see better what I mean in the completed part of the garland below:

The garland did have a tendency to get a little tangled, so I stayed close by to gently straighten things out, if necessary.

After your little one is finished sewing, you may want to smooth the leaves out.  Our finished product:

“Mom, I love my new leaf necklace!”

When everyone is finished playing, you can repurpose the garland for your Thanksgiving table!



Acorn Cap Jewels

Guest post from Jen at Paint Cut Paste

I love the natural art materials the earth provides this time of year! My 4 year old daughter and I have been having a great time making all sorts of things with acorn caps – such as tiny acorn cap candles, felted wool balls with acorn caps on them, and little fairies acorn caps for hats. This time we created acorn cap “jewels.”

I have seen this idea around the web lately, so I thought we’d give it a try at home. We had all of the materials on hand, and I’ll bet you do, too. You’ll need:

  • Acorn caps
  • Elmer’s school glue (or any school glue brand that dries clear.)
  • Markers (we used Mr. Sketch markers because we love the scents!)
  • Rice, beans, or play dough to hold your caps in place while they dry (We used some old play dough.)

First, my daughter had a great time coloring the insides of the acorn caps with each color marker, and placing them securely in the play dough.

Then she filled each acorn cap up with the school glue.

There were lots of “ooooohs” and “aaaaahs” right away, as the colors started to seep into the glue.

We set our acorn caps aside to dry for 48 hours. My daughter was very excited to check on them periodically over these days and watch the colors begin to show through the drying glue. Once they were all dry, they looked like vibrant, shining jewels! We’ve had lots of fun playing with them since they were made. They’ve become jewels for indoor and outdoor treasure hunts, “money” in my daughter’s store-related play, and tokens used in our own game of memory (flip them upside down and try to match the colors and remember where they were – if you want to play this, be sure to make two of each color.) The uses are as endless as your child’s imagination… and when you’re finished playing with these little gems, they bring such a autumnal decorative touch sitting out in a bowl in your home.