Two Ingredient Tuesday: Snow and Hot Water Equal Melting Experiments

Old man winter finally woke up and puffed a nice blanket of powder up in the Sierra mountains last week. Luckily, we were able to make the trek over the weekend to play in the snow with friends. Skiing, sledding, snow ball fights – we did it all!

We often make a requisite snow man too, though this time we tried making sculptures by dripping water onto snow. We filled water bottles with water. I was thinking the kids would at least get a kick out of squirting water on the snow (if not on each other).

We built up mounds of snow outside and tried melting them with the water, but the results weren’t really camera ready. Our melted snow mounds didn’t look much different than any other pile of snow around. The kids soon lost interest and shifted back to romping and snow ball fights.

The next day my mom buddy, whose idea this was in the first place, suggested we bring the snow inside on a baking pan and use hotter water. I was hoping too the isolation from the rest of the snow would help my guy focus.

Inside was where it was at! He was immediately curious about what would happen, and intently squirted hot water on the snow for a few minutes. The first thing he noticed was that even though he was adding lots of water, the bottom of the pan still contained only frozen snow. He hadn’t expected the snow to seemingly absorb the water. So his first mission was to see how much water he could squirt into the snow before pools of water finally formed in the pan. The amount of water it took surprised me too!

When I asked him what the water was doing to the snow, he said, “The hot water is making the cold snow vibrate! When it vibrates, it gets hotter and melts!” Wow. That was quite more of a specific answer than I expected to get!

His final product was a shell of snow with a completely hollow, melted out middle. Of course, he called it a volcano.

Our next experiment with snow melting produced something that looked a bit more like an ice sculpture. It reminded us of a pirate ship, and along those lines I was seeing hints of the Sydney Opera House. What do you see?

Well, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed, the best part of this project wasn’t the end product. This was the first time my guy had really focused on what happens when snow melts. He was able to experience it in a new way. He ended up intentionally melting snow for a good while, and I really hadn’t expected just how much he would get into it.

For some of us, this winter has felt a lot more like spring. But should you find yourself surrounded by snow, let us know novel ways you and your kids have played with it!






Popsicle Stick Pirate Ship

We’re excited to have Sara, a guest blogger from Tea Collection’s Studio T blog blogging with us today.  Tea Collection designs distinctive children’s clothes collections inspired by the beauty they discover in their travels around the world.

No pirate is complete without his or her boat. In the spirit of Kiwi Crate’s pirate month, we decided to have some fun building popsicle stick boats so your little adventurer can discover the high seas in your neighborhood.

What you’ll need:

Popsicle sticks (aka craft sticks), hot glue gun*, piece of cloth for a flag, a pirate figurine (optional)

*We used a glue gun, but little explorers might want to use a safer adhesive gel glue or just craft / Elmer’s glue. We actually purchased multi-color craft sticks because what’s more fun than a rainbow boat?  You could also of course use plain brown craft sticks, if that’s what you have handy.

Start by creating your boat base with 10 popsicle sticks and lay them out vertically, no glue required yet.

Then you’ll need eight more popsicle sticks to form part of your boat floor. Put glue on the flat side of one of the sticks and lay it horizontally across the base. Do this with the seven remaining sticks, placing them all directly next to each other, but leaving room for two more sticks at one end.  Once you’ve glued your eight sticks to the base, you will have room for two more sticks.  You’ll want to cut one of the two sticks in half. This will allow you a space to put your mast.  You’ll then want to grab another popsicle stick and cut off the round part so it has a flat end bottom. This stick will be your mast. Glue your mast to the boat base and glue the two floor halves around the mast to keep it in place.

After the mast is secured, glue the last full stick next to the mast and two stick halves.

Once your boat is constructed, you’ll need a sail.  The sail can be made out of cloth, construction paper, or even a large leaf!  We used excess fabric from our Painted Vines Knot girls dress.

If you use fabric, fold it in half so both sides will show the pattern.  Then cut out two triangle shaped pieces measuring 3 inches on all sides. You’ll need to fasten your two pieces of fabric together, pattern side out, at each triangle tip. We used our glue to do this, but you could also use a small safety pin.

Lastly slip your sail over your mast and cut a small hole ¾ inch from the top of the mast triangle to slip over the top tip of the mast.  Now your boat is ready to set sail!

Add a pirate figurine, lego man, or GI joe to the base of the boat.  After all, every boat needs a fearless captain! You can set your boat assail with a secret message attached for another explorer to find.  Or, you can tie fishing string to the boat mast so you can real your boat back in for another day of play.

Happy Sailing!


Two Ingredient Tuesday: Tape & Floor

I love this activity because it’s the easiest thing to pull out after dinner or on a rainy day and keeps O entertained and imagining for a surprisingly long time. Just use painter’s tape, which peels off easily without leaving a mark. You can also create your city on a yoga mat.

Our creation of a tape city always begins with a parking lot.

Next O decided we need a REALLY long highway.

Then he created an aquarium and lake.

I thought the 3-D waterfall (an accidental discovery) was a nice touch.

Our complete city! We could have kept going all night but were thwarted by bathtime.

Crackled Marbles

Lately, my five-year-old daughter has been obsessed with stones and all things sparkly and jewel-like. When organizing our art cabinet the other day, I found a bag of marbles. I remembered an experiment I did as a kid that I knew my little treasure-lover would enjoy: crackling marbles!


To do this fun, visual experiment, you will need:

  • Clear glass marbles (they can be all clear or have the rainbow swirl in them, but the opaque kind won’t show the effect.)
  • Heat: An oven-safe baking dish & your oven
  • Cold: A cup of ice water

I started by asking my daughter what she thought would happen to marbles if we baked them in our oven, and then put them into ice water. She thought they might melt in the oven and then freeze in the ice. Then, like a true scientist, my daughter decided to divide up the marbles into two sets – ones that would “stay uncooked” and ones that would “get cooked.” At the time, her rationale was that she didn’t want to “melt” all of our pretty marbles, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe she was innately creating a control group for the experiment, right? ☺



We preheated our oven to 500 degrees F, and we put the “get cooked” half of the marbles into an oven-safe small loaf pan. We baked the marbles for 20 minutes.

When it was time to carefully take them out of the oven, we had a large cup of ice water ready on the kitchen counter. I carefully lowered marbles into the cup of ice water using a small ladle. *Be cautious here: Glass can crack when its temperature changes quickly and drastically, so you might want to wear goggles and ask your child to do so. I’ve personally never seen this happen during this experiment, but be aware and have your kids stand back, just in case.

This experiment will demonstrate the effects of thermal shock on glass. Marbles expand all over, at relatively the same rate, when they are heated. However, when marbles are cooled off instantaneously, their outer layer cools first and shrinks. The inside is slower to cool, and therefore still expanded, forcing the insides to crack under pressure.

All of our marbles stayed intact this time, but I’ve seen some break in half during this process.

After observing the differences between the “cooked” marbles and the “uncooked” marbles, my daughter added these crackled marbles to her treasure chest and is using them as her pretend jewels and magic stones. Whether it’s science or magic (or perhaps a bit of both in a child’s eyes,) marbles that have undergone thermal shock really are lovely, sparkly orbs!


Guest post by Jen Berlingo, MA, an art psychotherapist and blogger over at



Two Ingredient Tuesday: Foil + Plastic Cup = Pirate Hook

Yo ho! It’s pirate month at Kiwi Crate! From the moment our green crate hit the doorstep, my wee pirate wasted no time plundering his monthly-delivered treasure.  He soon recruited fellow swashbucklers for a pirate play date.

“There’s treasure to be found!” barked the pirates. They growled over their map and waved their hooks as a warning to any varmints who dare to pilfer their treasure.

“Avast!! Listen up me buccaneers!”  With his one good evil eye, Big B peered at his mates and told them the story of how he lost his hand to a shark while roaming the seven seas!

Pirate play may be full of danger and intrigue, but making a pirate hook for your crew to complement their crate is a cinch with a plastic cup and foil. Simply punch a small hole at the base of a plastic cup, and let the pirates tightly roll up a sheet of foil. Insert the foil roll into the hole at the bottom of the cup, and curve the foil into a hook. Shiver me timbers that’s easy!

Aye Aye, me hearty! It’s time to play!


Pirate Telescope Spotting Game

For little explorers and pirates alike, the telescope is an essential play accessory. And kids certainly know how to convert a tube into a scope! For us it’s a weekly occurrence that I toss a spent paper tube to my 5 year-old son, who immediately puts it to his eye for spotting.

The no frills step up from the paper towel tube is to roll colored construction paper around the tube and tape on a cuff.

To make a cone-shaped telescope, we tried layering up different-sized tubes and paper cups.

We painted it brown to get that rustic look.

Now, with telescopes in hands and hats on heads, we’re ready to play our pirate spotting game. This is a fun one for a pirate play date. Here’s what we did:

1) Start out with a painted scene on a big thick piece of paper or cardboard. In this case my son painted pirate ships and an island, with no help or hints from me! The point is to keep the scene fairly simple, because you’ll be adding to it as you go along.

2) Next,  all the pirates scope the scene for a minute or two until they feel they’ve got it in their memory. Then a few chosen pirates get blindfolded.

3) One pirate (or a parent) makes  a small change to the scene. For example, the painter adds a new tree, a bird, or a bit of treasure.

4) Next, the blindfolded pirates remove their blindfolds and use their telescopes to see how quickly they can spot what’s different in the scene!

If you don’t want to bother with painting, you can play the game with objects or toys in your backyard or in a room on a rainy day.

And of course, you can always bury and find hidden treasure!

Jami blogs at 



Two Ingredient Tuesday: Silverware and Sugar Packet Tic-Tac-Toe

My childhood visits to grandpa always ended with a trip to Marie Callender’s for grilled cheese and pie. There was always a wait. My siblings and I enjoyed ogling the pies while we waited to be seated, but we were antsy when we finally got to sit down. My parents had some tricks up their sleeves that didn’t need the use of technology! One of my dad’s favorites was making a tic-tac-toe board out of silverware, with sugar packets for the X’s and O’s.

At a recent breakfast, I tried it out with my 3-year-old son. First we placed the silverware in the classic grid. He liked this, but wanted to pile on more silverware. My explanation of using forks and knives rather than the short spoons was lost on him.

Then we selected colors from the sugar basket. B was happy to be allowed to take packets out. He later happily put them back, one by one. Old resentments of my older sister always claiming pink resurfaced. My older brother getting always had second choice, leaving me with yellow or white. I guess today’s kids are lucky to also have blue to choose from.

Our family rule is that the youngest goes first, one silver lining to being the third child. In subsequent rounds, the winner goes first. B places his sugar packet, and then my husband plays his. Somehow B ultimately wins, but, being three, this goes over his head. He is happy to just fill in the squares.

What technology-free tips do you have for entertaining the kids at a busy restaurant?


Origami Valentine Hearts

With two kids in school / preschool, we have been busy preparing for Valentine’s Day celebrations.  We don’t normally do any too fancy for school parties — I have mostly done the standard drugstore version of superhero / Star Wars valentines for the past few years.

But I saw these origami hearts on Pinterest recently, and thought they might be a wonderful choice for H to give to his kindergarten classmates.  The hearts are so cute, and function perfectly as bookmarks (perfect for those books we’re reading at bedtime these days but don’t get through in a single night).  And I was happy to find something that might not get thrown into the trashcan the next day!

This is a project that a 5- or 6-year-old can certainly partake in.  H and I folded together, each of us doing our own heart – so he could watch me as we went along.  He was so excited to see, at the end, when he turned his over to see the perfect heart that he had created.

We used scrapbooking paper that I picked up at Michael’s.  I first tried using cardstock weight, but it was too heavy; you’ll definitely want to just use regular printer-type weight paper.  And I did end up using a glue dot on the back (you can see in the last picture below) to keep the back together (you could certainly use tape or a gluestick instead.)  And if you’re gifting them to friends, you could write or print a short message on an address label and place it on the back.

What are your favorite Valentine crafts?

Clay Heart Valentine Pendants

We were very excited to be featured on Red Tricycle‘s Sweet DIY Valentine’s Crafts for Kids!  We wrote about these Clay Heart Pendants, as well as some fun Valentine’s Felt Mice, which are totally adorable.

While we admit we usually focus more on process than end-product here at Kiwi Crate, an added bonus of both of these Valentine’s projects is that you do end up with a really cute product, which would be perfect for gifting to a school friend, sibling, grandparent or teacher.

Clay Heart Valentine’s Materials

  • Your favorite clay — air-dry or oven-dry.  We used Crayola Model Magic, which was fine and probably the easiest choice.  (One caveat: the hole through which we strung the ribbon was more fragile than I would have liked.  I might try salt dough or a polymer clay next time.)
  • Rolling pin (a small toy one will do, or even just an empty bottle)
  • Heart-shaped cookie cutter (or any shape)
  • Skewer or toothpick (to poke a hole)
  • Rubber stamps (large or small, in any shape you like – hearts, flowers, or any theme) or other items to press designs into the clay
  • A length of silk cord, ribbon or yarn

Getting Started

Start by rolling out your clay to your desired thickness — about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick should be good.

Then, cut out your pendant.  If you’re making for Valentine’s Day, obviously a heart is a great choice :), but you can certainly use any other shape you please.

Next, decorate your pendant by pressing your rubber stamps (or other items) into the clay.  Rubber stamps (clean or not – if they have ink residue on them, they just add some pretty color to the pendants) are great to use, but it’s also fun to use other small toys (LEGO figures, toy cars), coins, or objects from nature (tiny pine cones, pine needles, shells, flowers) to press designs into your clay.

Press a hole through the top of the pendant with the skewer or toothpick.  (I probably put our holes a little too close to the top of the heart (my daughter ended up pulling one of the cords straight through the top of the hole when she was “playing” with her necklace – aka, spinning it around the kitchen).  This was fixed by simply poking another hole about 1/4″ from the top.)

Let It Dry

Let the clay dry for 24 hours (if using air-dry clay), then thread the ribbon or cord through the hole.

My daughter got such a kick out of making these, and was thrilled to give them to her friends who came over for a playdate this weekend!

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Tissue Paper + Contact Paper = Valentine Heart

I can’t say I’ve ever been one to decorate for Valentine’s Day, but this year my son asked if we could. He’s such a love bug!

Kids can easily make colorful, textured window decorations by sticking tissue paper scraps onto contact paper. Ah, the simplicity of two ingredients…

Oh right, I forgot about the scissors.  OK, before I continue, can we all agree that scissors don’t count as an ingredient? Sure, we could rip paper with our bare hands. And in some instances that might work, but for this one, not so much.

Good. Now that we have the scissor thing settled…

If your kid is skilled with scissors, they can have at cutting up the tissue. I ended up jumping in too since my son was ready to move on after a few minutes. If you’re willing to do all the cutting, this is a great craft for toddlers.

We cut up a few sheets of tissue paper in reds, pinks and white. We kinda cut more than we actually needed. The large pile of paper scraps created a fun sensory play moment for my son, and he started throwing the pieces in the air like confetti, claiming we were having a Valentine party. Very cute, but to curb the mess I quickly got a piece of contact paper in front him!

While sticking the tissue paper to the contact paper, he was more into a complete coverage strategy rather than trying to make any particular pattern.

Last, we cut heart shapes and used a small piece of tape to attach them to the window (a tape circle pulls easily off the window). You could also call this a stained glass heart (An idea inspired by the colors Kiwi Crate).


The hearts appeared luminous and puffy. My son suggested we make some small hearts the same way as Valentine cards for his preschool. I’m thinking a construction paper border would be a nice touch.

What are you making for Valentine’s Day with your love bug?

Jami blogs at