At-home resources for kids and parents during Covid-19

To our KiwiCo community:

As parents, we share the same concerns about the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, and the impact it will have on our families. Here at KiwiCo, we asked our team to work from home. Many of us have children who will be home with us for the foreseeable future due to school closures.

We know a lot of you are also trying to find a new normal, including keeping your kids busy at home. So today, we’re launching a resource hub for parents to help support learning at home, with loads of stay-at-home educational activities for every age, tips from teachers on effective remote learning, and kid-friendly content that connects science with their daily lives. To start with, we’re bringing you an explanation of the science of handwashing, to help kids understand why it’s so important. We’re going to be adding new content and resources to the hub regularly. We’ll also be switching up our newsletter to bring you helpful resources more frequently, and you can follow us on Instagram for daily updates.

Please take care of yourself, and reach out if we can help. We’re here to support you and your family during this time. We’re in this together.

Founder & Mom of 3


Announcing Camp KiwiCo: Our At-Home Summer Camp!

Announcing Camp KiwiCo: At Home Summer Camp

We know that this summer is shaping up to be quite a bit different than we all imagined. For many of us, all the plans we had made to fill our kids’ days and weeks for the next few months have been cancelled (much to the massive dismay of parents and kids alike!) And while we are fans of good, old-fashioned unstructured fun in the summer, many of the options for our kids — pools, playgrounds, beaches, even playdates — may be off-limits, in at least some parts of the country. We know that many parents (ourselves included!) will be desperate for some structured activities to bridge the gap between the inevitable moans of “I’m bored!” and to provide something fun (and maybe enriching!) for our kids to look forward to.

So to help bring some discovery and delight to all of our kids’ summers, we are excited to announce the upcoming launch of Camp KiwiCo! We’re creating four different sessions of hands-on activities, videos and content, each geared for different age groups. Each session is meant to cover five days, with a few hours of activities and content each day —  but kids can mix and match days and go at their own pace.  

All the content for Camp KiwiCo (DIY activities, videos, printables) will be FREE and available to anyone, starting June 22 (and will remain accessible all summer). If you’d like to add more to your camper’s day, you can order the specific KiwiCo crates we’ve handpicked from our store to go with each day’s theme. Those crates (one per day) are $24.95 each, or you can purchase a 5-pack of crates for a full 5-day session for $109.95.

What’s a day like at Camp KiwiCo?

Each day of Camp KiwiCo is structured around a super fun theme! Once camp is “live”, you will find all the content for each day on our site. A good way to start the day will be to watch the video from one of our “camp counselors” (aka, product designers) explaining that day’s theme. (This might be learning how to build a rocket on Kiwi Camp’s “Fun With Flight” day or taking a crash course in astronomy on Tinker Camp’s “Comets & Constellations” day.) Then campers can dive deeper into that day’s theme by doing one of the awesome DIY activities provided for the day, exploring the downloadable printable, watching the cool videos, and tackling the creativity challenge. And of course, you can supplement all of that with the KiwiCo crate we’ve curated to go with that day’s theme (just remember to order 7-10 days before you plan to start camp, to guarantee you receive it in time.)

Presenting our four Camp sessions:

Four Camp KiwiCo Sessions

Koala Camp (ages 3 to 4)

Play and learn preschool adventures: Enjoy a week of seriously fun & scientific backyard adventures — from rainbows & music to chemistry & camping! 

Kiwi Camp (ages 5 to 8) 

Explore science, art, and more: Delve into a week of discovery & delight exploring awesome arcades, fun with flight, deep-sea adventures & more! 

Atlas Camp (ages 9 to 16) 

Discover the world: Explore the world from your living room! Get an introduction to the seven continents and learn all about four fascinating countries with immersive hands-on experiences.

Tinker Camp (ages 9+) 

Engineer cool machines:  Spark moments of inspiration & fun all week long exploring robotics, hydraulics, movie magic, mechanical toys & astronomy!

Questions?

Do I have to do all five days? Or buy all five crates?

No — you can customize your camp experience in any way that works for you and your camper! You can access any of the content that interests you and purchase any of the crates you like.

Are the camp sessions live?

All the video sessions are pre-recorded, so you can access them at any time that is convenient for you — all summer long.

We’ll send out an update when content for Camp KiwiCo has launched, so be sure to follow us on social or share your email address with us. We’re super excited to share a “whoa, awesome!” summer with you and your kiddo!

Memorial Day Fun | Our Favorite Backyard Activities

The long Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer (at least mentally!) for most of us. This year will likely be a little different from how we would typically spend the long weekend (no neighborhood BBQ or pool party for us this year) — but it’s still a great time to have some serious backyard fun! With that in mind, we created a list of our favorite outdoor games to play, crafts to make, and foods to eat outdoors. All of these projects can be created using simple materials and ingredients that you may already have at your house. We hope these projects make your Memorial Day even more memorable! 

Flying Object Fun!

DIY Bow and Arrow

Make a bow and arrow! Create a target and hold an archery competition to see who can hit the bullseye.  Experiment with different sizes of arrows to see how far, you can make them fly! 

Learn more: DIY Bow and Arrow 

Balloon Rockets

Create your very own balloon powered rockets and see how far they can travel.
Experiment with different balloon shapes and sizes to experiment with the travel speed.

Learn more: Balloon Rockets

Rubber Band Helicopter

Learn about helicopters by making a rubber band powered flying toy! The two propellers on your rubber band helicopter are able to fly thanks to the same principles that keep real helicopters aloft. Make a couple of different versions to see which one lifts higher into the sky! 

Learn more: Rubber Band Helicopter

Giant Bubble Wand

Make a giant bubble wand and a bubble solution for giant bubbles using a few household ingredients!  Take turns to see who can blow the biggest bubbles!

Learn more: Giant Bubble Wand

One-of-a-Kind Bubble Bottle

Little kids will have a blast with this bubble bottle. Add liquid food coloring to make a rainbow of colors!

Learn more: One-of-a-Kind Bubble Bottle

Games to Make and Play

Stick Quoits

Quoits (pronounced k(w)oit)  is an old English game that involves throwing metal, rope or rubber rings. To make your own set, craft the rings using sticks (for a much safer version.) Then set up and play–whether you are at a lake, in the woods or in your own backyard.

Learn more: Stick Quoits

Cornhole Game

Cornhole is a game that has been around for years!  The goal is to toss bags (orginally filled with corn kernels) into plywood holes (hence the name cornhole!) The game is more popular than ever, and world tournaments abound! It’s simple to make your own cornhole game using a cardboard box. 

Learn more: Cornhole Game

DIY Bean Bag Toss

This bean bag game is easy to assemble–you’ll be having fun in minutes! Children can help make bean bags; paper plates make great targets! 

Learn more: DIY Bean Bag Toss

Paper Plate Ring Toss

Design, paint, and create your own game of ring toss! This easy-to-make afternoon activity provides hours of fun–both indoors and outdoors!

Learn more: Paper Plate Ring Toss

Outdoor Arts and Crafts

Red, White, and Blue 3D Stars

Get ready for Memorial Day weekend with this banner of 3D stars. These DIY stars are super simple; As you create each point, the 3D stars will come into form. You can experiment with different layers, sizes, and shapes!

Learn more: Red, White, and Blue 3D Stars

Mini Piñatas

These adorable mini piñatas are made from paper cones but you can also use party hats. If you don’t have glue, clear tape works just was well. Fill each mini pinata with candy or flower seeds! Then take turns swinging the stick to see who can break them open! (Flower-filled cones may lead to blooming results!)

Learn more: Mini Piñatas

Painted Rocks

Transform backyard rocks into bugs and other animals. This simple art project is fun for little kids! 

Learn more: Painted Rocks

Chalk Art

Cheer up your neighborhood with chalk art! Create paint with three simple ingredients, then draw, paint, and write welcoming wishes for all your neighbors to enjoy! (Need more inspiration – check out these amazing chalk paintings and learn the expert techniques of Tracy Lee Stum.)

Learn more: Chalk Art

Festive Picnic Food 

Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Creamy ice cream made with just one ingredient. Yes, that’s right — just one ingredient, and no ice cream maker needed!

Learn more:Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Mini Fire Pot S’mores

Recreate the fun of summertime camping with mini fire pot s’mores! Nothing’s more convenient than roasting marshmallows using a simple terra cotta pot. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a summer night treat in your own backyard.

Learn more: Mini Fire Pot S’mores

Fruit Pops

As a healthy alternative to store-bought popsicles and ice cream, make your own fruit pops. Provide different berries and just for kids to make cool flavors!

Are you interested in STEM, STEAM, and receiving hands-on projects each month? Check out our crates at KiwiCo! 

KiwiCo Editors’ Picks for Your Kids’ Summer Reading List

Now, more than ever, is a great time to discover (or rediscover) the joy of reading. Whether you and your kids are looking for ways to fill extra hours at home, find some balance vs. screen time, or simply escape for a little while to an alternate reality (aren’t we all!) – a good book can deliver on all those things. Great reading requires great books.  To help provide recommendations for our Summer Reading List, we asked our KiwiCo Editorial Team for their favorite books by age. Our editors review hundreds of books each season to handpick selections to pair with our monthly crates, which we send as part of our Deluxe subscription. (PSA: you can upgrade your subscription – for any line except Maker and Eureka – and get a book delivered every month selected to complement that month’s crate theme!). Since our crates are designed to spark curiosity, learning and innovation, we love books that do the same. 

For little ones, we love beautifully illustrated board books for kids to chew on. Have a reluctant reader? We’ve found that elementary age kids LOVE nonfiction and graphic novels. Does your kid love hands-on activities? Keep your kids busy with crafty DIY workbooks all summer long.  

Below is a list of recommended books curated by our editors. We’ve organized the list by age group but some of the ages overlap.  Each age group includes STEM and STEAM learning titles and all of them are seriously fun! 

When you upgrade your KiwiCo subscription to Deluxe, we’ll choose a unique title to extend the fun and learning of each month’s crate topic! Most importantly the age level of the book corresponds to your child’s literacy to help expand your child’s reading skills.

Books to Read to Babies (0 to 24 months)

Being read to in early childhood helps babies develop language and listening skills and stimulates their imagination. Our editors recommend durable boardbooks that babies can chew on–both mentally and literally–with illustrations and ideas that engage and delight parents and babies alike.

  • My First Little Library by Alain Gree. Created with adorable illustrations, this little library includes essential volumes for your baby’s first books:   My First Book of Colors, My First Book of Animals, My First Book of Numbers and My First Book of Letters. The back cover of each book doubles up as a puzzle!
  • Play? by Linda Olafsdottir. Phil and his buddy, Puff, a stuffed puffin, do everything together. They hide and jump and crawl and growl! This sweet and spare picture book captures the delicate negotiations and simple joys of play.
  • Unseen Worlds by Helene Rajack. Discover a hidden universe of microscopic monsters right before your eyes. Unfold each page to reveal stunningly detailed illustrations bursting with jelly-like amoebae, predatory centipedes, ravenous mosquitos and more mites than you could imagine.
  • Music is… by Brandon Stosuy. From music writer Brandon Stosuy comes an entertaining new board book that introduces the many moods, styles, and senses of music to the youngest audiophiles by transforming our sense of hearing into a visual experience. Music is for everyone, and music is for you!
  • Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. A box is just a box… unless it’s not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows. We love this book both for its simplicity in illustration and text and for the way it fosters creativity and imagination.

Books for Kids 2 to 4 Years Old

Filled with beautiful illustrations and engaging themes about the world around us, we look for books that spark meaningful conversations between young kids and their parents. Picture books can help young children transition to independent reading. 

  • Tiger Walk by Dianne Hofmeyr. A tiger and a little boy embark on a magical and life-changing adventure, as the tiger helps the boy to overcome some of his biggest fears.
  • Before you were Born by Deborah Kerbel. This touching and evocative story about welcoming a baby to the world is a love letter to young children, tenderly expressing the joy and promise a new life brings.
  • Tiny T Rex by Jay Fleck. This little dinosaur has a HUGE problem. His friend Pointy needs cheering up and only a hug will do. But with his short stature and teeny T. Rex arms, is a hug impossible? This book teaches an important lesson about overcoming obstacles.
  • Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester. Rodney is a rat who can’t say his “r’s” and the rodents tease him mercilessly. But his bravery against a bully makes him the hero of this book! Children will cheer as Rodney triumphs over all!

Books for Kids 5 to 8 Years Old

We recommend books will help kids expand their independent reading ability while learning about STEM-related topics through storytelling, nonfiction, biographies, non-fiction, and more. These books are meant to inspire curiosity, creativity, and learning about the world.

  • Acrobat Family by Anouk Boisrobert. Up and up they go, watch the family of acrobats balance on top of each other to create a magnificent show! This charming, collectible pop-up teaches valuable counting skills and the joys of working as a team.
  • Sun and Moon by Lindsey Yankey. Sun and Moon have always held their own places in the sky, but after a lifetime of darkness Moon wants to trade. Sun agrees, but only if first Moon takes a careful look at his night, before making his final decision. Beautifully illustrated with mixed-media art, this tale is a story of discovery and appreciation.
  • On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne. This beautifully illustrated book uses Einstein’s story to connect science and creativity.
  • Tree Lady by H. Josheph Hopkins. This wonderful biography of an activist scientist will inspire kids to become inventors.
  • Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey. From the beloved author of the Curious George series; this is an accessible guide to stargazing.
  • The Quest to Digest by Mary Corcoran. This playful picture book introduces readers to the science of the human digestive system. Humorous text and colorful illustrations follow an apple’s journey at each stage of digestion through the human body.
  • Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry. In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature. We loved the illustrations in this book and how the story highlights the meaning of friendship.

Books for Kids 9+

These middle-grade readers, graphic novels, and STEM project books inspire creativity, delve into history, and offer creative activities for kids to make and do.

  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. This New York Times bestseller and Newbery Medal–winning book is vividly brought to life as a graphic novel with stunning illustrations by Dawud Anyabwile.
  • Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madelein L’Engle. Two kids embark on a journey through space and time, from universe to universe, to save the world. The novel offers a glimpse into the war between light and darkness, and goodness and evil, as the young characters mature into adolescents on their journey.
  • Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang. This series introduces computer science concepts in graphic novel style and is very cool, especially for reluctant readers. 
  • The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Rosemary Mosco and Dylan Thuras. Full of illustrations and engaging facts, this book will fully immerse kids in countries around the world.
  • The Beginner Art Book for Kids: Learn How to Draw, Paint, Sculpt, and More! By Daniel Freeman and Korri Freeman. This creative compendium is the latest and greatest in art books for kids, packed full of imaginative art projects and inspiration for budding artists.
  • Recycled Science: Bring Out Your Science Genius with Soda Bottles, Potato Chip Bags, and More Unexpected Stuff by Tammy Laura Lyn Enz and Jodi Lyn Wheeler-Toppen. For the creative who is stuck at home, this book includes seriously scrappy projects that kids can make using what they already have in their house.

Are you interested in STEM, STEAM and receiving hands-on projects each month? Check out all of our crates at KiwiCo!

Cheer up Your Neighbors with Sidewalk Chalk

Expert Tips for Experimenting With Sidewalk Chalk

No matter what you plan to draw or create with chalk — a fun game, an inspiring message, or even a vibrant, complicated 3-D painting — making art on the sidewalk is a great way to connect with the people around you. You can make chalk art on your own, or work on a larger creation with your neighbors while maintaining 6 feet of separation.

 Chalk art is fun to do anytime, but it’s extra special now-when many of us have a little extra time for creative expression and can appreciate the time outside. And what could be more fun than creating a colorful  work of art—one that brings joy to your neighbors and, over time, fades away, so you can start work on a whole new beautiful creation? We chatted with street artist Tracy Lee Stum, author of The Art of Chalk Art, about her process. Along the way, she shared her tips for making cool community creations.

KiwiCo: Tell us, why is chalk art a great way to cheer up a neighborhood? 

Tracy Lee Stum: Something magical happens when you make art in the street. Artists tend to work in isolation, but once you start creating art in a public space, you get energy and support from the people around you— there is this wonderful exchange. Street art invites participation. Especially when the images that you’re creating require people in the pieces to bring them to life. Making street art is a kind of live performance.  

KiwiCO: Chalk art seems to be very popular right now. Can you tell us why?

Tracy Lee Stum: Chalk art is going crazy right now because people can’t go anywhere. It’s been wonderful to see so many social media posts of kids drawing on fences, walls, and sidewalks. Kids are making art in their neighborhood. It’s great, and I love it.

Parents and kids are looking at what they can do where they are, with whatever they already have at home. Many kids have chalk (or they’re already familiar with it!). It’s nontoxic, inexpensive, and temporary. And because people are staying close to home, that means that neighborhood streets and driveways are convenient canvases. Luckily, chalk works really well on pavement!

KiwiCo: How did you discover sidewalk chalk art?  

Tracy Lee Stum: I literally stumbled upon chalk painting by accident while walking by a street painting festival in Santa Barbara. Every year, the event organizers host an exhibition for the artists, known as I Madonnari  in front of the Mission as a benefit for the Children’s Creative Project.  Seeing over 200 people drawing masterpieces on the pavement with chalk impressed me so much that, the next year, I ended up participating. 

KiwiCo: What chalk art projects would you recommend for beginners? 

Tracy Lee Strum: Learning how to manipulate the chalk on the pavement takes some time, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really fun. There are so many projects that anyone can do with chalk, no matter what your age or skill level is.  

Hand-lettering

Art by Trisha Wong

Writing messages in beautiful letters drawn by hand—a.ka. “hand-lettering”— is an easy, fun way to spread cheer. Little artists might share words of joy and kindness. For some great hand-lettering inspiration, check out artist Trish Wong’s beautiful designs.

Character-based Creations 

Art by Miel Lappin

Another fun project for kids is to draw characters. They can find images in books or online, print the images, cut them out, and then trace them on the ground. For younger kids, parents can do the line drawing for the little ones to fill in. 

Forced Perspective

Create a shape or scene, stand or lie down in the right spot, and make yourself part of the art! Take photos for a fun perspective. 

3D

Art by Tracy Stum

More advanced artists may enjoy working in 3D.  While it may seem like magic, it is actually a lot of engineering. The geometry is set up so that it only works when you stand in at a certain point, with your camera at a certain location the optical illusion is revealed.  (For 3D how-to videos and project instructions check out Tracy’s website.)

KiwiCo: How might a group of neighbors host their own sidewalk chalk festival?

Tracy Lee Stum: Creating a neighborhood chalk art quilt is a great way to get everyone involved. Start by making a grid of 2 x 2  squares that kids can fill in however they want. Once kids create their art, the result will be an entire carpet of artwork going down the sidewalk.

Art by Trisha Wong

KiwiCo: Do you have some general tips for making chalk art on the street?

  1. Decide on your design:  Find something that you are excited about drawing that matches with your skill level.
  2. Choose a safe traffic-free location like a closed street or driveway.
  3. If you are making a 3D drawing, make sure that you don’t have any shadows falling across the area where you’re going to work. You’ll also want to be aware of where shadows are going to fall when someone’s standing in your picture.
  4. Mark a grid or an area where you are going to work:  For little kids, two feet by two feet is manageable. For older kids and more experienced artists, four feet-by-four feet works well.
  5. When you’re working with chalk, be mindful of how much chalk you use as you draw: You don’t need much!
  6. For advanced artists, start with mid-range colors so you can create highlights and lowlights to give depth to your drawing. 
  7. Photos, photos, photos! You can best appreciate 3D pieces and forced perspective pieces when you take photos of them. Beyond that, chalk art is ephemeral, so you’ll want to take pictures of your masterpieces in order to remember them!

KiwiCo: Is there any special equipment you would recommend using?

  1. Wear latex gloves for general safety, and so you don’t mix colors while drawing. 
  2. Use pieces of styrofoam or chalkboard erasers for blending.
  3. If you can, bring a garden kneeling pad with you. It’s invaluable for protecting your knees. (That’s especially useful for parents!) 
  4. Make sure to drink water, wear sunscreen, and put on a hat!
Art by Miel Lappin

KiwiCo: How is street art the ultimate collaboration? Is it true that a neighborhood that creates together stays together?

Tracy Lee Stum: Most artists are used to holding onto a piece of artwork, but that’s not true in this case. After drawing my first piece of sidewalk chalk art, I learned how to release it. Chalk art is designed to be ephemeral. The joy of making street art is that it isn’t really about the finished piece as much as it is about the process of creating it and, afterward, the interaction between the piece and all the people who see it. I didn’t realize how much performance plays a part in this. All of my friends who are street painters agree that the reason we do this is the magical exchange that happens when people see the art. 

Art by Zelia Curtis

A former Guinness World Record holder, Tracy is a visionary and master in the street painting world. Tracyʼs mind-blowing 3D images continue to ‘wowʼ, inspire and amaze viewers around the globe. As an artist she hopes to inspire and motivate others to explore their own creative imagination. Her book The Art of Chalk was published in 2016 through Quarto Publishing.

To learn more about Tracy Lee Stum, you can visit her website, http://tracyleestum.com/, or follow her on Instagram @tracyleestum.

The Art of Chalk © 2019 by Tracy Lee Stum. Published by Quarto Books.



The Benefits of Reading for Kids that You May Not Know About

We all know that “reading is fundamental”, as the old ad campaign used to say, and of course we appreciate how important reading is for our kids. But there are actually a lot of additional benefits – beyond its importance in early education and the lifelong acquisition of information – that we thought were pretty cool and you might think so too.

At KiwiCo, books play a huge part of what we do. We love books because they inspire, educate, and enhance creativity and learning! Whether you are a new parent reading to your child or the parent of a toddler who is learning to read, or supporting a teenager who is learning new STEM skills, spending time with the printed page offers many long lasting benefits. Here are just a few:

  1. Reading helps develop language and build good communication skills: Being read to and reading aloud helps language development, vocabulary and understanding, and for that reason, pediatricians recommend reading to your child even from a very young age.. Throughout their lives, kids (and grown-ups!) continue to acquire new vocabulary and turns of phrase from books (thank you, Big Nate??)
  2. Reading builds cultural literacy: Everything we do from deciphering signs, menus and maps, to finding information online, requires reading. Reading gives kids tools to navigate the world – both physically, but also culturally — they gain the context to understand and appreciate the perspectives of the cultures they may visit. (PSA: consider a Deluxe subscription to our Atlas Crate line – and get a book handpicked to learn more about each month’s destination!)
  3. Reading can alleviate stress: Especially now at this time of uncertainty and anxiety, reading provides both a window to alternate worlds and an escape to other places. Reading can transport kids to a state of calm – whether that exists under the sea, a fantasy kingdom, the African Savannah or the Gold Rush days. Now is a great time to help your child build a cozy reading nook (in a closet, a corner, under the stairs!) to retreat to when they need to find that quiet haven. 
  4. Reading (and even just being read to) stimulates the brain: When kids read or are read to, it stimulates the frontal cortex (the language processing part of their brain). For babies, while they may not understand the actual words that you’re saying yet, being exposed to words gets your child used to hearing them.
  5. Reading helps develop empathy: Books help kids get out of themselves to understand different perspectives. Stories help them negotiate the world and process their feelings. 
  6. Reading books on science helps develop common core skills: In addition to learning about STEM topics, kids learn how to process technical information. 

What if I have a reluctant reader?

  • If you have a reluctant reader, consider starting with graphic novels. Similar in format to comic books, graphic novels offer visual narratives that kids find seriously fun. And according to all our advisors who are teachers – yes, reading graphic novels still “counts”!
  • For elementary age kids, nonfiction books are often a big draw. These titles arm them with fascinating facts about animals and the natural world that your child, too, may love throwing out in carpool lines or at the dinner table (“Did you know that gorillas build the world’s largest nests?”)Biographies inspire kids to learn about historical figures and events. 
  • Find books that allow them to go deeper into their passion or areas of interest

We created the KiwiCo Deluxe subscription as a way to allow kids to do just that — go deeper into a topic area – that just might become a passion – that is introduced in that month’s crate. Every month, our editors handpick a book to complement that month’s crate theme, ensuring that it is developmentally appropriate for the age range of that crate line. 

Our hope is the books we select and send to our subscribers help them to realize many of the benefits described above — and to inspire them to love books as much as we do! 

Homemade Mother’s Day Gifts and Activities

Make this Mother’s Day extra special with homemade gifts and activities. This year, especially, we encourage you to give your mom an extra dose of appreciation! Here is a list of homemade DIYs, activities, and recipes that are perfect for doing just that! We are so grateful to all of the mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, and women everywhere who guide, teach, nurture, and empower us everyday!

Awesome DIY Gifts for Mom

Upcycle ordinary materials into extraordinary gifts!

Growing Flowers Pop-Up Card



Make a unique Mother’s Day card with this quick and fun pop-up project using materials you may already have. Once you get all your shapes cut out, you’ll see how fun and easy it is to put it together!

Learn more: Growing Flowers Pop-Up Card

Flower Wreaths

Create a colorful spring wreath out of simple blooms. Use string or wire to make a crown fit for a queen!

Learn more: Flower Wreaths

Paper Flower Bouquet

If you don’t have access to fresh flowers, fabricate vibrant paper blooms. Dip coffee filters into watercolor paint to make a beautiful bouquet.

Learn more: Paper Flower Bouquet

Bath Bombs

Splish splash, let’s add a little science to the bath! These homemade bath bomb are the perfect spa present for mom (and include a fizzy science lesson.) You can add a personal touch by making them her favorite color.

Learn more: Bath Bombs

DIY Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrub is a soothing treat for tired hands and feet. Because this recipe uses simple ingredients, it’s a fun project that little ones can make. 

Learn more: DIY Sugar Scrub

Celery Stamped Napkins

Get ready for Mother’s Day brunch with these personalized stamped napkins. All you need is a stalk of celery and some paint to create this useful gift. You can also try out different vegetable patterns such as bell peppers, okras, or lotus roots.

Learn more: Celery Stamped Napkins

Activities To Do Together

Spend the day having some serious fun!

Start a Small Herb Garden

You don’t need a backyard to plant a garden together. Start by planting herbs in pots to place on a sunny windowsill. 

Learn more: Start a Small Herb Garden

Make an Art Scrapbook

Make a scrapbook with mom using recycled gift wrap and cardboard. Use it to record family memories and moments together. 

Learn more: Make an Art Scrapbook

Host a Tea Party

Host a family tea party! Set the table with mismatched dishes, assemble these Afternoon Tea Sandwiches and brew a pot of tea! To make it extra special, create homemade invitations.

Learn more: Host a Tea Party

Recipes for Mother’s Day

Make Mother’s Day extra delicious with these fun kid-friendly recipes!

Green Smoothie

Start mom off with a healthful green juice! Tear up some greens, add fruit, and blend!

Learn more: Green Smoothie

Homemade Granola

All you need to make a good granola is a handful of ingredients. Mix up some oats, nuts, and seeds with sweetness and toast until golden brown. Serve over yogurt for a nutritious breakfast treat.

Learn more: Homemade Granola

Animal Bread Rolls

Baking bread is a fun at-home activity to do with mom. Shape pre-made dough into awesome animal forms and serve for Mother’s Day brunch.

Learn more: Animal Bread Rolls

Rainbow Kebabs

Serve mom all the colors of the rainbow with this delicious and healthy snack! Pick out fruits to follow the colors of the rainbow using a variety of available fruit.  

Learn more: Rainbow Kebabs

Mini Quiche

This Mini Quiche recipe makes multiple varieties to keep the whole family happy!

Learn more: Mini Quiche

Seriously Fun Projects for Mom to Fuel HER Creativity

Stock up on these KiwiCo crates to make every day Mother’s Day!

Ombre Soap Making Kit

Have some clean fun together! Craft and customize two kinds of colorful, crystal-inspired soaps for mom.

Learn more: Ombre Soap Making Kit

Light up Wire Art

Build two custom electronic art pieces with EL wire. Choose from five existing templates, or create your own from scratch.

Learn more: Light up Wire Art

Punch Needle Pillow

Explore textile art with a project that packs a serious punch! It’s an easy (but time consuming) technique that is perfect for team effort!

Learn more: Punch Needle Pillow

Fun and Functional Furniture

Light up a love for material science by building an adjustable articulated desk lamp. Fulfill your engineering desktiny by constructing an adjustable tilt-and-fold desk. Then build a pair of stereo headphones that turns electrical energy into stunning stereo sound!

Learn more: Eureka Crate Fun and Functional

Stencil Book Holder

Design your very own stencils, then use them to create a colorful canvas-bound book holder and anything else you’d like to stencil!

Learn more: Stencil Book Holder

For more fun crates to make with mom all year long, check out the Eureka, Doodle and Maker Crate Lines at KiwiCo.com or the Arts & Crafts crate collection on the KiwiCo Store!

How to Write a Haiku | Tips from a KiwiCo Poet

We’re pairing creative challenges with tips from experts! Last week’s challenge was to draw an undiscovered dinosaur, so we collected tips from the illustrator of the Tiny T. Rex books. This week, we’re challenging you and your kids to write a haiku.

Navigating this new normal can be an emotional roller coaster. What better way to express all these feelings than through poetry? And not just any poetry — the short and sweet kind! KiwiCo editor Iris Law happens to be a published poet, so we asked her tips for writing a haiku about the times.

KiwiCo: What is a haiku?

Iris: A haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan. In the 1900s, Western writers who were inspired by Japanese poetry started translating haiku into English and writing their own. There are many different ways to write a haiku, but the one that’s most familiar to modern English speakers is seventeen syllables long and is split into three lines, each with a specific number of syllables in each line. 

First line: five syllables
Second line: seven syllables
Third line: five syllables 

There’s also one more important thing to know — unlike a lot of poetry you might be familiar with, none of the lines in a haiku rhyme. Here’s one I wrote (about one of my favorite things to do at home — read and watch Harry Potter, of course):

Harry Potter Zoom Conversation (title)
She’s watching the films.   (5 syllables)
For comfort, she says. Snitch wings (7 syllables)
beat inside my heart. (5 syllables)

KiwiCo: What are your recommended tips for writing a haiku?

Iris: Haiku poems are simple to get the hang of and also pretty quick to write. Even if you’ve never written a poem before in your life, fear not! A haiku is an easy place to start.

First, it’s important to understand how syllables work

A syllable makes one sound inside a word, kind of like a beat in music. For example, the word “write” makes only one sound, so it has one syllable. But the word “poetry” makes three sounds (“po-e-try”), so it has three syllables. In a haiku, you’re counting the syllables in each line. 

Second, give your haiku a title

Since haiku are so short, you can think of the title as a “bonus space” to help you explain important information that you couldn’t fit in the poem. It might sound like cheating, but using the title to help the reader understand a poem is something that writers do all the time. In my haiku above, the title explains that I’m talking to my friend about Harry Potter on the video-chat platform Zoom. This saves me from having to explain that in the poem itself.

Third, remember that each line doesn’t have to be a complete sentence

In poetry, it’s okay to write in fragments. And it’s also okay for a sentence to be so long that it continues over onto the next line (in fact, poets even have a fancy word for this technique: “enjambment”).

Lastly, if you find writing while counting syllables really hard at first, don’t

Write out what you want to say like a regular sentence first (even if it’s way too long or too short), then edit it down or add onto it until you get the right number of syllables. The nice thing about writing is that, kind of like engineering and design, it’s not about getting it right the first time; it’s a process, and you can just keep tinkering with what you’ve written until it works. 

Follow along as I write a haiku from start to finish!

First Draft:

Spring walks six feet apart are great, but I have allergies. Achoo! 

I got my idea down on paper. Yes! It’s 16 syllables, though (too short). Also, I don’t have any line breaks yet.

Second Draft:

Socially Distanced Walk in Spring
From six feet apart, 
we watch the pink blossoms spill.
Yay for allergies!

We have line breaks! Hooray! The lines are the right number of syllables now, too, and I figured out how to show instead of just tell the reader about the walks (by naming things you can see on a walk — like flowers). I also used the title to help explain stuff that didn’t fit in the poem: that this is a socially distanced walk happening in the spring.

KiwiCo: What can you do with your haiku when you’re done?

Iris: Lots of things! Once you know how to write a haiku, it’s nearly impossible to stop at just one. 

1. Illustrate your haiku with a drawing! Or create a comic by drawing a panel for each line of your haiku. 

2. Try writing haiku on slips of paper and leaving them in funny places around the house for your family to find. (Like a haiku in the empty cookie jar about how you’re sorry-not-sorry for finishing the last one. Or a haiku in the bathroom about stockpiling toilet paper.) 

3. Write haiku on sticky notes and cover a whole wall in them! 

4. Make a “poetree” (get it?) by writing haiku on streamers and attaching them to a tree. (Make sure you get permission first!) 

5. How about a haiku tour of your neighborhood? Chalk haiku on the sidewalk in front of interesting landmarks all around the block — while staying a safe six feet away from other people, of course! 

The possibilities are pretty well endless!

For a fun, kid-friendly haiku read, check out the picture book Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons By Jon J. Muth. And for even more poetry fun, try browsing the Poetry Foundation’s archive of poems for children for some great pieces to read aloud together — or a couple of the free writing prompts available through California Poets in the Schools’ Online Writing Workshop for Youth.

How to Draw a Dinosaur | Tips from the Illustrator of Tiny T. Rex

We’re pairing creative challenges with tips from experts! Last week’s challenge was to make art with materials from nature, so we chatted with the author of Foraged Art. This week’s challenge is to draw an undiscovered dinosaur, so we collected tips from the illustrator of the Tiny T. Rex books!

Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug is a sweet story about a dinosaur who wants to comfort his friend but can’t (something many of us are familiar with in the age of quarantine). However, Tiny T. Rex is not stuck inside. His arms are just too short to hug his dino friend. After receiving advice and going on an adventure, Tiny finds a way to be there for his friend. Along the way, readers meet colorful dinosaurs drawn by illustrator Jay Fleck.

Image courtesy of Jay Fleck

KiwiCo: What was your favorite part about illustrating Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug?

Jay Fleck: I enjoyed everything about illustrating the book! I really liked the character, and it was fun to show his expressions and illustrate the different situations he finds himself in. My favorite part was probably where he hugs the cactus. I love cacti and it was such a funny idea. Poor, Tiny!

From Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug

KiwiCo: What are the types of dinosaurs in the book? Did you pull inspiration from renderings of dinosaurs for your drawings?

Jay Fleck: The main characters are Tyrannosaurus rexes. Tiny’s best friend, Pointy, is a Stegosaurus. On some pages you can spot a Brachiosaurus in the background. And towards the end, a Pterodactyl makes a surprise appearance! My versions of dinosaurs are much simpler and more stylized. At the same time, you can still tell that Tiny is a T-rex, so I had to look at real dinosaurs for inspiration.

From Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug

KiwiCo: Did you know that paleontologists recently discovered a real-life version of Tiny – a 3-foot tall cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex?

Artistic rendering of Moros intrepidus (aka Tiny T-rex) by Jorge Gonzales.

Jay Fleck: Yes! That discovery was made right around when the first Tiny T. Rex book came out, so I was very excited. I think Tiny is a little sweeter, and he probably gives better hugs! To make him look friendlier than a real T-rex, I drew Tiny’s head big and blocky and his eyes large and round. Then I added eyebrows so he looks like he’s making cute expressions. Tiny says a lot through his eyebrows!

KiwiCo: What steps do you recommend kids follow when they draw a dinosaur?

Jay Fleck: When drawing a dinosaur, you don’t have to draw it all at once in one line. Instead, start by creating shapes like circles, triangles, or rectangles.

How to Draw a Tiny T-Rex
From Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug

Here are basic steps for drawing a dinosaur that looks like Tiny: 

  1. Start with a rectangle for the head and round out the corners.
  2. Below the head (leave space for the neck), draw an oval for the body and a smaller oval inside for the belly.
  3. At the bottom of the body, draw two U-like shapes for legs.
  4. At the top part of the body, draw two skinny, U-like shapes for arms.
  5. Connect the head and body with two curved lined to make the neck shapes. Erase any intersecting lines. 
  6. On the bottom of the body, draw a triangle for the tail. Then round curve the sides a bit and add some spots.
  7. Draw a line mouth and two triangles popping up for teeth.
  8. Add big round circles for eyes. I like to draw my eyes farther apart. 
  9. Don’t forget the eyebrows! Try to use the eyebrows to convey expression. Rounded and raised eyebrows can make your dinosaur look happy or excited. While straight and angled eyebrows can make your dinosaur look angry or scared.
  10. Customize your creation with color!

Here are the basic steps for drawing dinosaurs like Pointy (stegosaurus):

How to Draw a Dinosaur: a Stegosarus named Pointy
Image courtesy of Jay Fleck
  1. Start with an oval (on its side) for the body.
  2.  On one side of the body, draw a rounded rectangle for the head. Make sure it’s much smaller than the body and leave a little room for a short neck.
  3. At the bottom of the body (close to the head), draw a short, rounded rectangle for a front leg. In front of that rectangle, draw a skinnier, rounded rectangle for the other front leg. Do the same thing for the back legs.
  4. Connect the head and body with two curved lines for the neck. Erase any intersecting lines.
  5. Draw two circles for the eyes, a line for the mouth, and eyebrows to add expression!
  6. For the spikes, draw a small triangle where the head and neck meet, and then draw a slightly bigger triangle next to it. Draw one more big triangle, and then smaller triangles until you reach the top of the tail. 
  7. Add a few scattered spots and color it in!

KiwiCo: If you could draw an undiscovered dinosaur, what would it look like?

From Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug

Jay Fleck: A T-rex with wings is just about the coolest thing that I could imagine. I came up with this idea by combining two dinosaur types! Of course, mine would be super friendly and would fly around giving hugs!  

To learn more about Jay Fleck, you can visit his website www.jayfleck.com or follow him on Instagram @jayafleck.

Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug © 2019 by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Jay Fleck. Published by Chronicle Books.

Recycling Tips for Kids | How to Reduce Waste at Home

Teaching kids about recycling and reducing waste will not only help keep your house clean, but it can also save you money!

Child recycling at school

Roles for Reducing Waste & Recycling

Life is messy – especially when the entire family is spending this much time at home. Reducing waste requires a lot of collaboration. By designating different roles for family members, you can help divide up responsibilities and keep each other in check!

Continue reading “Recycling Tips for Kids | How to Reduce Waste at Home”