10 Midsummer Outdoor Activities

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Kiwi-Crate-Midsummer-Activities

Looking for more easy, outdoor activities to enjoy before school starts? Here are ten great DIY projects to do that will keep your child outdoors and entertained so you can take advantage of the warm weather while it lasts!

Amazing Swing Experiment
 Does your child love to swing? They’ll get to explore physics while doing one of their favorite past times.

Kiwi Crate | Amazing Swing Experiment

Plastic Egg Fireflies
Creating colorful bug friends is taken to a new level when viewed after dark. Your children will love how they glow at night!

Plastic Egg Fireflies

Lemonade Stand
A lemonade stand is a Summer classic. Children will have fun creating their own stand out of cardboard. They’ll also enjoy the addition of fresh strawberries to the standard lemonade recipe.

Kiwi Crate | Lemonade Stand

The Frozen Alphabet
Your child will get a lot of practice learning letters and putting together words with this fun frozen letter challenge.

The Frozen Alphabet | Kiwi Crate

Shadow Chalk Experiment
Create moving shadow shapes by tracing your child’s shadow during different times throughout the day. Your child will be amazed at how the shape and direction of their shadow changes!  Shadow Chalk Experiment

Spray Bottle = Fun!
There are so many ways to have fun with a simple spray bottle. This is a perfect multipurpose summer toy for your child and you most-likely already have one laying around the house.

Spray Bottle = Fun!

Frog Pond Water Play
If you don’t live near a pond or creek with frogs and fish, why not create your own? Your child will have hours of fun with DIY foam lily pads and froggy friends.

Frog Pond Water Play | Kiwi Crate

Nature’s Alphabet
Take a nature walk and challenge your children to find the alphabet in the shapes of nature. Great for those imaginations as well as recognizing their letters!

Nature's Alphabet | Kiwi Crate

Ice Boat Race
A fun way for kids to design their own ice boat. Kids can try different shapes of ice and see which shapes go faster and are easier to “steer”. It’s fun to have multiple kids for this activity because they can race each other.

Ice Boat Race | Kiwi Crate

Blowing in the Wind Experiment
Can you catch the wind? Probably not, but you can try! Play this fun game and see what you can catch flying in the wind. This is a great way to get little legs running and jumping and outside!

Blowing in the Wind Experiment | Kiwi Crate

2014 CD Desk Calendar Printables

2014 Printable Calendar

Download all 12 months of our printable 2014 Monthly CD Desk Calendar…for free! Each month features a different, seasonal kiwi to brighten up your desk or kitchen table. Just print, cut out, and pop into a CD case for display.

These printables are designed to repurpose old CD cases you might have lying around, but we think they also look great on one of the easels from our Modern Art crate, if you happen to have one!

Download here:
2014 Printable CD Desk Calendar

10 Ways to Have Creative Fun with your Kids this Summer

 

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”   – Henry James, Author

Title Image

Today is the last day of school for my kids before the start of summer.

Not only is summer a school-free time for many children, but it can also mean warm weather, long car trips, digging up lots of beach sand, and long empty hours to lollygag (my favorite pastime).

While we often think of creative activities for kids as easel painting or drawing, getting outdoors fills children with new ideas, an imaginative spirit, and a thirst for life that will give children fodder for their ideas and art making.

Here are ten simple ways to have creative fun with your kids this summer:

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1. At the Beach.

While many parents look forward to beach trips as an opportunity to relax while the kids play (me, me!!), you can take comfort in the fact that while children play they are filling their brains with the sensory experiences of playing with sand, architectural processes of building castles, and physics lessons in how waves and tides move. We love the beach as a spot for the creative adventures that always go along with tidepooling, and look forward to trying our hands at sandcasting with plaster of paris (via The Artful Parent).

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2. During Long Car Trips.

Are you dreading planning a long car trip this summer? While DVD’s do wonders for keeping backseat bickering at bay, hands-on activities not only keep the mind active, but they can encourage long, uninterrupted spells of creativity as well.

To keep everyone’s mind occupied and on the same page, you’ll enjoy this awesome list from MPMK of audio books that the whole family can enjoy.

MPMK also shares the brilliant idea of making a DIY Car traveling station (photo, above). It’s magnetized so that materials won’t fly all over the car. Once you see this you won’t want to go back to your old methods.

Related to that, The Imagination Tree shares this how you can repurpose a simple plastic tray into a drawing station with window crayons with this clever DIY Portable art board.

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3. At the Campground.

Getting outdoors and taking adventures do wonders for eliciting creative thinking. If you don’t have any grand plans for camping this summer, not to worry because you can always pitch a Tent in the backyard and make sun-baked s’mores (via Kids Stuff World) on a hot day with creature comforts not too far away. Mmm.

Now, if you can actually manage to pack up all your gear and head out to the woods, This Mama Makes Stuff offers some sage advice on how to make the most of camping with kids. The Creative Homemaker shares a Happy Camper Scavenger Hunt (with a free printable that’s super cute) that will encourage children to look carefully at the world around them.

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4. Around the Neighborhood. 

Speaking of scavenger hunts, you don’t have to go very far to find cool things to look at. Just walk out your front door with a camera and you’re ready to take a rainbow scavenger hunt or any other sort of scavenger hunt you can dream up.

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5. On the Hiking Trail.

And then we can always kick scavenger hunts up a notch!

Have you ever been geocaching? When geocaching was first introduced back in 2001, I was one of the first people to go out and buy a GPS. And my husband laughed at me. We planted one of the oldest caches in Southern California and then the first cache in Indonesia, and wouldn’t you know that they’re both still there!

Now geocaching is so easy and affordable with phone-based apps like the Geocaching App for the iPhone. This activity gets kids moving and encourages them think hard as they go back and forth between connecting coordinates with real-world landmarks. Not only that, but it’s fun for everyone in the family.

I can’t recommend it enough. Hmm, all this cache talk reminds me that it’s been ages since we’ve hit the trail. I’m adding this to our summer list!

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6. At the Park.

Did you know that climbing trees can support creative thinking?

And then there’s the DIY Art Camp. If the weather is nice, why not invite your friends to join you for some art-making at the park? A couple summers ago we hosted a summer art afternoon for some friends. After a picnic (kids need fuel for the brains), we made sand paintings, paper bag crowns, and summer fireworks tote bags.  

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7. On the Lake.

Put engineering skills to work by making your own boats like these from NurtureStore, and then test them in the lake, pool, or stream.

If you order a Kiwi Crate subscription, your July crate, Wonders of Water (see photo above), will come with all the supplies you’ll need to build your very own sailboats.

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8. In the Garden.

Whether you have a large plot of land or a tiny patio, a short walk out your own front door into the fresh air gives children a low-threshold opportunity to get close to nature. You could try making your own Water Wall, planting a Garden with the Kids, or making fairy gardens for your resident gnomes and keepers of pixie dust.

You could also try Kiwi Crate’s Fairy Fun Crate that comes with everything you need to make a magical wand, flower garland, and miniature fairies.

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9. On the Plane.

Make a stack of these matching games (photo above) ahead of time.

If you’re traveling with a Lego-fan, and you have some skill with a sewing machine, this fabric tray Lego base is gorgeous and brilliant. Now if only there were a way to wrangle all those Legos on the plane!

Before you travel, your child may enjoy pretending that he or she is taking a trip or setting up a travel agency. This does wonders for building excitement (as seen in these pictures!).

If you subscribe to Kiwi Crate, in the month of August your kids will get Fun with Flight crate, filled with everything you’ll need to make retro-style rubber band rockets and paper gliders.

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10. On an Adventure.

Have you ever organized or gone on a mystery trip? They’re so fun, and can make even the most ordinary outing an adventure. On this recent trip to San Francisco, my husband wanted to introduce us to a Smitten, an ice cream shop that makes fresh ice cream, while you wait, with liquid nitrogen. Cool! (sorry I couldn’t help myself).

Adding to the cool factor, Smitten is located in a recycled shipping container in one of our favorite spots for people watching. Scott kept the whole thing to himself and then wowed my 4-year old with the adventure of watching her ice cream come to life.

To arrange a mystery trip, announce that you’re planning one, let your party know if they need to come prepared with any special clothes, snacks, or other creature comforts. And then hit the road!

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On that note, enjoy the great outdoors and know that that spending time outside is one of the best things you can do for a child.

I’ll leave you with this quote from playwright Henry Miller:

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”


Rachelle Doorley is a Kiwi Crate advisor and the publisher of Tinkerlab, a site designed to inspire parents and teachers to raise creative children.

5 Easy DIY Wrapping Paper Ideas

This year, our family was inspired to make our own wrapping paper for all our Christmas presents. It seemed silly to buy some when we already had yards and yards of kraft paper in our art supply closet just waiting to be turned into festive gift wrap. I love the natural handmade look, and my kids are so proud to give presents they wrapped themselves!

LITTLE HANDPRINTS

There’s nothing cuter than little hands and feet! And my kids love to make handprints. Just brush on washable paint with a foam brush and help your child press their hand on the paper. We’ll be using this personalized gift wrap for all the gifts to the grandparents.

Handprint Wrapping Paper

PINE NEEDLE STARS

Use a little bit of your holiday greenery to create a fun star pattern. Dip the pine needles in a little cup of paint, then press on the paper to form a star. Try different pieces to vary the pattern.

Create DIY Star-printed Wrapping Paper with Pine Needles

COOKIE CUTTER PRINTS

Dip holiday cookie cutters in paint to create a pretty design. Pour some paint onto a paper plate and dip the cookie cutter in the paint. For a thicker line, use the rounded side of the cookie cutter.

DIY Holiday Wrapping Paper with Cookie Cutters

ROLLING PIN STAMPS

Foam stickers on a rolling pin create a beautiful snowy pattern! Stick self-adhesive foam stickers onto a rolling pin, then brush paint onto the stickers with a foam brush. Slowly roll the rolling pin along the paper to make a pattern.

Create this mod wrapping paper pattern with a rolling pin

FOAM STICKER STAMPS

Kids can make their own stamp by placing a foam sticker onto a wooden block. Use any shape you like, or cut your own! Use a foam brush to apply the paint to the sticker, then stamp on the paper.

DIY Wrapping Paper with Wood Block Stamps

You can even use the same technique to decorate ribbons.

DIY Stamped Holiday Ribbon

I hope you enjoy creating your own unique gift wrap. Tell us your favorite technique in the comments!


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 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.

Handprint Monsters

The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler, which means Halloween is slowly creeping up on us! My two boys already have their costumes ready for a spooktacular  trip to the Happiest Place on Earth for Mickey’s Halloween Party. (If you’re looking for a DIY costume, check out the Halloween crates in our Celebration Shop).

Grab your little one and get into the ghoulish spirit by making these fun handprint monsters. The kids had a giggly good time decorating their monsters during a recent kid testing session, especially because they went overboard with the googly eyes!

Tools & Materials

  • cardstock paper
  • 3 different colors of paint (or more if you wish)
  • foam brush
  • googly eyes
  • glue
  • black and colored Sharpies (grownup supervision required!)
  • white and red paint for decoration

After making sure everyone had on a smock (this activity can get a bit messy!), I used a foam brush to paint the kids’ hands. (Even though a plain ‘ol handprint is fine, it’s also fun to ask the kids how they might make different monster shapes. For example, they could put paint only on two fingers or on different parts of their hands…) There were plenty of giggles as the paint was applied…

Then, PLOP!, the kids used their hand as a stamp and pressed down firmly on sheets of paper.

After letting the paint dry, decorate your creature with googly eyes, markers, or extra paint.

Hang your masterpiece for all to see. These little monsters are a sweet reminder that little hands grow so fast…

To make these prints stand out as Halloween decor even more, you can use black paper with orange or white paint only. For another fun twist, try using neon paint to really make the colors pop. Happy crafting!


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 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.

Pumpkin Decorating with Pins and Yarn

Halloween is so highly anticipated in our household. The costumes, the crisp fall air, and…the pumpkin decorating!

In past years, we’ve had fun with paint, similar to what Jami experienced in a post last year. This year, I wanted to try something a little different. I was inspired by a combination of materials and activities I’ve seen in preschool classrooms. We pulled together pushpins, yarn, scissors and, of course, pumpkins.

“Sharp pushpins for kids?!” you might ask incredulously. I asked the same thing when my daughter, who was 3 at the time, would come home from preschool with outlines dotted with pinholes. The teachers assured me that the kids did really well with them and developed their fine motor skills. I was sold (though I did watch carefully over the kiddos to make sure things were going safely and all pins were accounted for).

As for the combination of pins and yarn, I thought we could recreate geoboards on our pumpkins. Have you seen these? The combination of nails in boards along with rubber bands is geometric magic. Perhaps the kiddos could wrap yarn around their pushpins to create new patterns and shapes? So, we set up all of the materials and off we went.  My three-year-old began making a line of “eyes,” which evolved into a “100 eye” pumpkin.  Good thing we had a lot of pushpins!

Then, some yarn was weaved amongst the pushpins.  I helped start and stop the yarn by simply wrapping it around the pin and pushing the pushpin all the way.  (Frankly, he would have been completely happy with pushpins alone.)

My five-year-old created a little girl pumpkin with a flower in her hair.

On the back of her pumpkin, she made a heart and then weaved the yarn between the pushpins.

They were thrilled with their creations, and they’re asking for more pumpkins to decorate!

Meanwhile, I had to try the technique myself. Here’s my attempt at a spider web. Ooh – hexagon in the middle!

How do you plan on decorating your pumpkins this year?

For more DIY Halloween fun, take a look at our Halloween Costume Crates in our Celebration Shop!


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 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.

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #9: Create a Classroom or Naptime Keepsake!

Being away from home can be tough on kids. Our school recommends making a special keepsake that kids can keep in their cubbies and pull out at nap time or when they’re feeling sad. Every year since preschool, my son Dillon and I make something new together to bring to school for this very purpose. This year, he asked if we could make a “stuffy” that he could cuddle with during quiet time.

We ended up making two different stuffies. For the first stuffy, Dillon drew what he wanted the stuffy to look like (our kitty), and then traced the shape around cotton canvas. I helped him cut out the fabric and then he used fabric paint and markers to color kitty. With an embroidery needle and thread, he stitched up most of the kitty and stuffed her with batting. I then helped him sew up the final edge. (Note: Dillon is 6, and has had sewing practice in preschool. There were a few pokes to the finger, but no blood and he didn’t seem to mind.)

Here is the drawing and the finished stuffy:

make your own stuffed animal

For the second stuffy, Dillon asked if I could sew it with my sewing machine because he wanted a sturdy, pillow-like stuffy. Since I wanted Dillon to have a hand in creating both stuffies, I asked him to draw the design. We discussed some of the types of things that mommy can sew (simpler shapes, and a little rounded—nothing too fancy; I’m a basic sewer and this was the first time I’ve pulled out my sewing machine in over a year).

Here’s the design Dillon came up with:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

And here’s the pattern we created from his drawing:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

I added 1/4″ around for the seam and traced the pattern onto the fabric with a fabric pencil.

We went through some fabric scraps I had around and decided on soft grey cotton flannel for the body, bright orange and green felt for the eyes, and some bright purple orange and green thread.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

To create this stuffy, I first pinned the pattern face-down to two pieces of fabric facing right side in. Dillon traced the shape onto the fabric with a fabric pencil, and I cut the fabric out. Dillon cut the circles of felt, and together we hand-sewed these on. We used the bright green thread to create an eye. Once these details were on, I pinned the two sides together right side in and stitched them on my machine, leaving an opening for stuffing. (Note: I left a slightly larger opening, so that it would be easier for Dillon to help.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Once the stuffy was sewn, Dillon turned it right side out and began stuffing. For the inside, we used a mix of recycled stuffing (old t-shirts we cut into strips) and extra cotton batting I had on hand. Dillon and I took turns. We had a few silly laughs while he put the “guts”" in. After our stuffy felt nice and pillowy, I stitched up the back end. (My placement of the opening created boyish giggling as well.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here is Dillon loving his two new stuffies, Kitty Buns and Round Circle. Dillon decided that Round Circle will go to school and Kitty Buns will stay home for nighttime cuddling.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here are some other ideas for keepsakes: a small book of family photos, a family collage, a special blanket from home, or a blanket with your child’s name embroidered on it.

Are you creating a keepsake for your kid’s classroom? If so, what are you making?


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 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.

Paper Crowns

Paper Crown

I love paper crowns for celebrations – so fun, so easy, and so festive!  We created this one with some leftover scrapbooking materials, but the beauty of this project is that you can make it as simple (or as fancy!) as you like.  And if you’re not a scrapbooker and don’t feel like making an extra trip to the craft store, I bet you can pull this together with stuff you have around the house.

Paper Crown Supplies

What you’ll need:
Cardstock or other heavy-weight paper (construction paper works too)
Scissors
Tape
Stickers (or other festive embellishments) (Is your kid also a sticker-hoarder? do you have a bag / box / pile of random stickers stashed away someplace like I do? Now’s a great time to pull them out and use them up!)

Paper Crown Cutting

Since we used fancy paper for this crown, I decided on a simple zig-zag pattern that would be easy for my son to cut. He was delighted with the wavy scissors, and very carefully cut (mostly) along the lines.  (Of course, fancy scissors are a bonus; regular scissors work just fine!)

Paper Crown Taping

We cut zig-zags out of both sides of the paper, then taped them together to form a strip long enough for a crown.

Paper Crown Stickers

Then, time to decorate! We’re very excited about numbers in our house right now, so I provided a set of number stickers and he went to town.

Paper Crown

And there you go, a festive crown perfect for a birthday, or to celebrate a lost tooth, for your knight- or princess-in training, or just because!

Rainbow Flowers for Mother’s Day

Rainbow Flowers

I hope I’m not the only one out there who winds up responsible for planning her own mother’s day gifts every year! I was pondering ideas for a project that would be both mom- and kid-friendly when I saw white carnations at the grocery store. They reminded me of how much I used to love dyeing flowers with food coloring when I was kid – there’s just something so magical about watching the color travel up through the stem all the way to the tips of the petals. Just for fun, I thought I’d add a little color-mixing exploration and create a rainbow!

Rainbow Flowers

All you need for this project is flowers and food coloring. Carnations are a good choice because they’re inexpensive, long-lasting, and they suck up the color quickly. To prep the flowers, I cut off the stems ends so they’d drink the water faster, then placed them in cups of water. I just happened to have the right number of flowers to do all the colors of the rainbow and have one left over to leave white, so we could compare the difference.

Rainbow Flowers

I used paste food coloring because it was what I had on hand, but the liquid kind works just as well. The only trick with the food coloring is that it helps to use a lot! I mean, really a lot – the water should be dyed a nice, deep color.

Rainbow Flowers

The mixing step turned out to be a lot of fun by itself. My son very seriously and carefully mixed each color until we had this lovely water rainbow in our window.

Rainbow Flowers

And then we came back just hours later to find that our flowers were already starting to turn colors! We kept checking on our flowers throughout the day and watched the color deepen and spread. Some flowers turned out more vibrant than others, and it was really interesting to watch the patterns the colors make as they travel through the flower petals.

Rainbow Flowers

We left them overnight, and in the morning we had a lovely pastel rainbow.

Rainbow Flowers

Add a little bit of ribbon and sweet little boy, and voila! Happy mother’s day!

Rainbow Flowers for Mama

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Jar + Yarn = Vase

DIY flower vases

Mother’s Day is coming up, and in our house, that means flowers! Since I had a big stash of empty jelly jars just waiting for a craft, I thought of these cute DIY vases — all you need are some jars and some yarn. Just wrap the yarn around, cross it to hold in place, and keep wrapping. When you get to the end of the yarn, just tuck the loose end under to hold it in place.

DIY flower vases

If you’re starting with clean jars, there’s no prep work at all. If you’re recycling and need to remove the label, learn from my mistake and get that done before you have three kids demanding to know when they could start making vases. (The smarter way to do it would be to soak the label with vegetable oil, let it sit for an hour or so, then scrub it off.)

DIY flower vases

Older kids might want to experiment with layering different colors of yarn, or try wrapping it in neat rows. But I think even the overlapping wrapping looks really fun, and it’s easy enough that even little kids can participate.

DIY flower vases

We had such a good time creating this set, we decided to create a second set to give as gifts!

See more great ideas for Mother’s Day in our roundup here!

What are your favorite kids’ crafts for Mother’s Day? Tell us in the comments!