Two Ingredient Tuesday: Crayons & Watercolor

Who can resist wax resist? With just crayons and watercolors, you can explore color mixing, find hidden surprises, and learn about wax resisting water.

My son drew grudgingly with that frustrating white crayon that never produces results, but I promised him this time they would.

To his delight, as we started painting over it with watercolors, the white drawing he’d made began to show through. He declared this ocean scene “Hawaii!” You can also use this method to create and reveal secret messages.

We tried various colors to see how they looked with different watercolors. It was an armchair trip to MOMA!

Which materials do you enjoy mixing to produce unexpected results?

Hair Gel Aquarium

I recently heard a presentation by Bev Bos (a renowned play-based preschool founder and expert on preschool learning).  One thing that particularly struck a chord was her comment that, “children have to use too much!”

If he pours his own cereal, squirts his paint, pumps his soap, dumps his ketchup, etc, my son wants what in my eyes is “too much!” Building a hair gel aquarium was a reminder that sometimes “too much!” is just what my 3 year old has in mind.

To build this fun tactile aquarium, you need a sturdy Ziploc bag, hair gel, sea creatures and some food coloring (optional). I picked up the sea creatures at our local party store. The hair gel had been sitting in my medicine cabinet for years and I was happy to repurpose.

B was drawn to the sea creatures. He unwrapped each one and lined them up on the table. Jabbering away about, “Grandma has a seahorse on her shirt. The crab going to pinch you. Owee, ow. This fish is pink. The fish are at the a-care-ium. . . .” These particular creatures were stretchy, which was also a hit.

Next, we put food coloring into the plastic bag. Given free reign over the dropper bottle, B happily squirts in “too much.”

He also enjoyed squeezing the hair gel bottle. While emptying the bottle, I try not to say “too much!”
Now I tell him to pick some animals to put in the aquarium. B selects all the animals. I think “ahh, too much!”

We seal the bag and the squishy fun begins.

I tape the Deep Sea Aquarium to the window for some extra fun for the next couple of days. What creative materials do your kids love to use “too much” of?

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Ivory Soap & Microwave

I’ve seen this super interesting trick involving just Ivory soap and your microwave a few places on the internet lately.  My kids were itching for a quick project before dinner tonight, and this was so simple – great for some good, CLEAN fun!

True to our post’s title, all you need is a bar of Ivory soap and a microwave.  To start, unwrap the soap and place on a microwave-safe dish.

Like any good science experiment, ask your kids to form their hypotheses about what they think will happen to the soap in the microwave.  My son H said “I think it will melt all over the plate.”

Pop it in the microwave and turn it on for 60-90 seconds (depending on the strength of your microwave, may take longer than 60 seconds to foam up.  But it won’t explode, so you don’t have to worry about that.  You may get a little on the side of your microwave as it expands, but it wipes off easily – it’s just soap, after all!)

Here are my kids watching the soap foaming up – you can see it in the background.  (Not to worry, I don’t normally let them hang out with their noses pressed to the microwave door!)

Here’s the finished product – doesn’t it look cool?  The texture is really interesting too – it doesn’t feel like cotton candy, even though that’s what my kids thought at first!

Next, H wanted to see what would happen if we put food coloring on the soap.  This wasn’t part of the plan, but we decided to roll with it and check it out.  He placed drops of food coloring on the soap, and poked some holes in the soap to get the dye to “soak in”.  H’s theory was that it would color the whole soap foam sculpture, like rainbow cotton candy. Back in the microwave… and here are our results.  Not as dramatic as we thought, color-wise, but pretty interesting, nonetheless. The final surprise was the random lesson found on the Ivory soap wrapper: “Family is nature’s way of providing us friends”.  Deep thoughts from the Ivory soap bar – who knew?

Fall Bucket List


Image from

Happy Fall!

We are in the full throes of Indian Summer here in the Bay Area, so it’s hard to believe that fall is here just yet… but I love celebrating the changing of the seasons, and fall is my favorite of all — something about the different light, the bite in the air, and that fall smell…

Anyway, I was inspired by the beautiful image above I found on Pinterest a few weeks ago — it’s from this great blogger, Katie at  To celebrate the First Day of Fall yesterday, I was excited to make our own bucket list with my kids.  We were running around in the car much of the day, and this was a great conversation topic (much better than “Stop harrassing your sister!  Give your brother back his book!  Mom, he/she hit me!!”)  We brainstormed ideas as we drove around, and when we got home, we took a few minutes to sit down before dinner to write down our ideas and add some more.

The idea of a bucket list (or a life to-do list – call it whatever you like) appeals to me these days more than ever.  I feel like the weeks, months and seasons fly by so quickly now with the busy-ness of three young kids, school, activities, etc; I really like the idea of trying to be a little more intentional with how we spend the free time we have.   I don’t want to be overly ambitious (though I probably have been) — as my son was eager to note, our #1 rule for our Fall List is Have Fun!

You can download and print the list above from or you can make your own if you’d like to personalize some of the activities.  Of course, it doesn’t have to be fancy at all.  I ended up making ours in Word (I inserted a table and just used different fonts and shadings on the cells.  As you can see below, I am clearly not a graphic designer.)

Since none of my kids are readers yet, I had my son illustrate the activities so he can remember what they are (that’s what those hieroglyphics are… e.g., for “Make fall cookies”, my son H pointed out the squiggly line “is the smell of baking cookies coming out of the oven. You can see the cookies through the oven door.”  Clearly. I love it.)

I’m planning to laminate ours and hang it at kid-height on the wall (yes, I’m a geek and bought a laminating machine at Costco); you could also put it in an 8×10 picture frame and use a dry-erase marker to mark off activities as you do them.  I can’t wait to get started!

What’s on your fall bucket list?


Two Ingredient Tuesday: Shaving Cream and Food Coloring

I’ve seen shaving cream sensory tables at my daughter’s preschool and on almost all of my favorite kids’ craft blogs, but we’ve never actually tried it ourselves. When we were visiting my in-laws last week my daughter spotted a can of shaving cream in the shower and it seemed like the right time to set up our own sensory shaving cream tray. She had so much fun with this that it made me wonder why I had waited so long! It ridiculously simple to set up, my daughter was fully invested for close to an hour, and the clean-up was easy (it’s just soap, after all!).

I squirted some Foamy Shaving Cream on a cookie tray. Make sure you use the foamy kind for good results.

After playing with the shaving cream for a little while, I introduced the food coloring. My daughter likes to take things into her own hands and happily drip-dropped the food coloring into the foamy sea before mixing and swirling it up. We talked about color mixing and I took the opportunity to teach her about warm and cool colors. We talked about how red and yellow are warm like the sun, while blue and green are cool like the ocean. She picked right up on this concept and happily talked about it the rest of the day.

Eventually the shaving cream turned a lovely shade of grey, but we kept adding more cream and food coloring until we were done.

Clean up was fairly easy: I placed a piece of paper next to the pan to absorb some of the mess, and we also did this outside just in case anything needed to be hosed down.

Summer Activities Round-Up, Part 2

We posted Part 1 of our Round-Up of favorite summertime activities last week.  Here’s the rest of our compilation of ways to fill the last few days of summer!

1) Sun prints – Celebrate the sun by creating these gorgeous prints from paint cut paste.  Glue the prints to folded cardstock afterward to make pretty note cards to use for thank you notes.

Photo credit: paint cut paste


2) Cork boatsWe’ve tested the seaworthiness and do-ability of MANY, MANY boats for projects here at Kiwi Crate (more on that for another post), and were so impressed with these awesome boats shared by Jonah Lisa Land on The Crafty Crow. It’s a good way to use up any leftover wine corks you just may have laying around – or get donated from willing friends…

Photo credit: Jonah Lisa Land


3) Hot colored rocks – This project is such a neat idea (coloring hot rocks with crayons) and is a great excuse to head out to a local beach, river or park to collect rocks.  It’s also courtesy of Jen at paint cut paste as a guest post on Moms by Heart (Jen has tons of more summer ideas here.)

Photo credit: paint cut paste


4) Pool noodle printingWith summer coming to a close, you can find pool noodles for sale at the drug store or the dollar store for a song.  Use them for  this cool printing project from The Chocolate Muffin Tree. And after you’re done painting, you can repurpose the noodles to make Floating Sculptures – another great project from The Chocolate Muffin Tree.

Photo credit: The Chocolate Muffin Tree


5) Water Sponge Toys from Marie at Make and Takes – just in case your kids need another way to get wet outside!  Marie also has a great how-to video on her site for this, which we’ve included here as well.

Photo credit: Make and Takes


That’s it for this year’s Summer Round-Up – hope your summer has been as fun as ours!

What were your favorite activities?