Discover Kenya – How to make vibibi (gluten free pancakes)

Vibibi are a popular gluten free pancake in East Africa made using rice and coconut milk. Typically, these are made by soaking rice overnight and then blending to a smooth paste with the coconut milk but they can also be made with rice flour (as per this recipe). They are often served sweet but the sugar in the recipe can be reduced in favour of serving with fresh fruit like mango instead.


  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 200 – 250 ml coconut milk
  • Optional: Nutmeg or vanilla can be added for a different flavour.

Allergies: free from gluten, dairy, soy, egg, nuts.

Note: You can choose to add an egg to the recipe (it is optional).


  1. In a mixing bowl, place the yeast, water, and 1 tsp sugar. Wait 5-10 minutes until it begins to foam and release a yeasty scent. Tip: In cooler weather, this will take longer. You may need to place the bowl in a hot water cupboard, or sit the mixing bowl in a little warm water.
  2. Mix in the rest of the sugar, the rice flour, and cardamom.
  3. Mix in the coconut milk until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Cover the mixing bowl and place in a warm spot. Allow to ferment for 2-3 hours.
  5. Cooking: Heat a frying pan with a little oil. Ladle batter into the pan. As it cooks, tiny bubbles will appear in the pancake. After about a minute (once golden brown on the bottom), flip, and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side. Repeat for each pancake (adding a little oil to the pan for each one).
  6. Serve with fresh fruit, or yoghurt, or a cup of coffee.

Discover Kenya – How to make and play Mancala

Mancala is a popular boardgame that has been played for hundreds of years in many parts of Africa; in East Africa the game is often referred to as ‘Bao’. We decided to make our own board as part of our Kenya study. There are many variants but essentially this is a ‘move and capture’ game where you want to end up with more tokens than your opponent.

Mancala boards can range from digging pits in the earth, to simple wooden boards, to stunningly carved and engraved affairs using wood or tin. They are also easy to make at home with a few simple materials!

How to make a Mancala board


  • 12-hole egg carton
  • Scissors, tape / glue.
  • Optional: paint
  • 48 tokens.

The great thing about making your own Mancala board is that you can customise and decorate it; Miss 6 chose to paint ours a vibrant pink and add some lizard spectators. The tokens can be whatever you want; aim for around small marble size. This home-made game board is great for practising fine motor skills and pincer movements!

  • scoop out and dry seeds from pumpkin or butternut
  • small river stones
  • small sea shells
  • marbles
  • beads


  1. Remove the lid of the egg carton.
  2. Optional: Paint your egg carton and allow it to completely dry.
  3. Cut the lid in half. Attach one half at each end using tape and/or glue. These create a long ‘mancala’ for each player to place their captured pieces.

How to play Mancala

There are many variants to Mancala; this is the version that has worked best for us:

  • Set up the gameboard by dropping four tokens (or ‘seeds’) into each ‘hole’ / ‘pit’. The six pits closest to your Mancala are controlled by you; the further six pits and Mancala are controlled by your opponent.
  • The player who begins chooses one of their ‘pits’ and picks up all of the tokens in it. They then proceed in an anti-clockwise direction and drop a token in each pit as they move forward. They do not drop a token in their opponent’s mancala. They do drop a token in their own Mancala. We like to think of this as sowing seeds.
  • If their turn finishes by dropping a token in their own Mancala, they get another turn. Players can use this to their advantage and may strategically repeat it several times before play passes.
  • If their turn finishes by dropping a seed in an opponent’s empty ‘pit’, they capture (‘harvest’) the token they just dropped and all the tokens in the ‘pit’ opposite. They place the tokens in their Mancala; then play passes to their opponent.
  • If their turn finishes by dropping a token in one of their own pits, or an opponent’s pit that contains tokens, then play passes.
  • The game ends when one player cannot move. Each player then collects (‘harvests’) all the tokens (‘seeds’) in their six pits (or ‘field’) and moves them to their Mancala. Players may strategically anticipate this end game result in how they move their pieces.
  • Players count the tokens in their Mancala at game’s end. Highest score wins.

Discover Kenya – A KiwiCo Review: Atlas Crate for 6-11 Year Olds (Deluxe Box)

What is in the Kenya crate?

You begin by opening your travel mail from Milo and Anya to find out about their latest travel adventures! Miss 6 enjoys seeing all the photos in Kenya.

There is a passport sticker to add to our Adventure Passport and various cards about Kenya to add to it as well. These range from a country map and cultural information, to activity cards with things to do. Learn: some words in Swahili, about Amboseli National Park, the Maasai people, Nairobi’s colourful matutu buses, the soda lakes which create a sea of pink with millions of flamingos, and the many beautiful landscapes that Kenya offers.

Some of the books we enjoyed included:

Want some additional learning ideas?

Make your own binoculars

Our first craft was building binoculars with real curved lenses; paper tubes allow some sliding movement to help find the focal point. These also come with some paper African animals.

These were easy to build and work well enough to talk about the science being demonstrated. Miss 6 felt frustrated by the visual clarity but it’s a good opportunity to gauge interest before buying basic child binoculars.

Make your own beaded wristband

In the past, Maasai women made beaded jewellery using seeds and dried grasses dyed in different colours. A complicated history means these are now usually glass or plastic. The jewellery can have special meaning based on its colours, designs, and intended use. For this project, some simple information is given on what colours can signify. Children then have creative freedom to create their own pattern and design.


This is not a paid review. I spent a lot of time searching the internet to find out more information about the Kiwi Crate and Atlas Crate boxes before deciding to try them and found the blog posts / photos that people shared were really useful!

If you would like to try Atlas Crate (or one of their other lines), you can receive 50% off your first box by clicking here.

What I like about the Atlas Crate kits is that they provide a colourful and imaginative way of exploring the world through hands-on activities. I like that they use a mix of STEM and art to explore different concepts and ideas. Their products are also very well made, with clear instructions, and kids feel a real sense of pride in what they accomplish with each box.

There’s no obligation to sign-up in an on-going capacity so it’s easy to tie them in with birthdays / Christmas; the boxes are quite compact so they also store easily in a cupboard for bringing them out on a rainy day. Other families will choose to sign up for a longer period (like a 3, 6, or 12 month cycle).


Each Atlas Crate comes with a special airmail envelope from Anya the Cricket and Milo the Sandpiper revealing where they’ve been on their latest adventure. There is a special passport sticker for your child’s Atlas Adventure Book plus seven new pages to add about a new country (highlighting geography, customs, landmarks, history, and foods).

There are supplies for two activities (which might be a mix of art, STEM, and games) as well as suggestions for more DIY activities to try at home – from things to make, to things to bake!

If you choose the Deluxe option, then you will also receive a book that helps you explore that month’s destination. This upgrade is an additional USD$9.95 (approx. $15 NZD) and can impact shipping costs as well. Since we’re homeschooling, I decided that we’d try the Deluxe option for 6 months to see how useful we find it.

Interested in more homeschool box reviews?

Discover the World with ATLAS Crate

#1 Introducing the World

#2 Discover Japan

#3 Discover France

#4 Discover Madagascar

#5 Discover Colombia

#6 Discover England

#7 Discover Nepal

#8 Discover Guatemala

#9 Discover Greece

Explore STEM with Kiwi Crate

#1 Arcade Box (and the Claw!)

#2 The Amazing Animation Box (make your own 19th century movie with a Zoetrope!)

#3 The Mechanical Sweeper Box (make your own baleen whale!)

#4 The Disc Launchers Box (play games with physics!)

#5 Kaleidoscope Puzzles (explore symmetry and mirrors!)

#6 The Human Body

#7 The Science of Tension

#8 All about Surface Tension

#9 Learn about Stars and Constellations

#10 Learn about Time

#11 Learn about Mirrors and create Illusions

STEM: Amaze your friends with these cool magic tricks!

Magic with science: Static Electricity

These are a few fun experiments that you can amaze your friends with that only require a few household items and are based around two things: a balloon and static electricity.

When we rub a balloon on the right kind of surface (like a wool jumper), it goes from being neutral to building up a negative charge. This can then be used to manipulate electrons on other surfaces by repelling negative electrons and drawing positive electrons. More importantly, this can look really, really cool!

Want to see the science behind it? Check out this cool interactive digital experiment.

TIP: The science behind this magic trick is impacted by the weather, so be sure to perform when the air is dry!


  • Balloon
  • Pencil
  • Salt
  • Scrap paper

Tip: We found plain balloons worked best. Thicker balloons designed for helium, or heavily patterned ones didn’t seem to build up a charge.


  1. Blow up a balloon and tie it off.
  2. Rub the balloon repeatedly. You may need to experiment with different surfaces such as hair, woollen clothes, jumpers, carpet; (conductive materials will give up their electrons more readily). You may need to experiment with how long it takes to build up a charge; note that the charge will only build up on the side that is rubbed.
  3. Experiment away!

Dancing Salt: Place a pile of fine table salt on a bench and hold a charged balloon above it. Watch the salt leap up and cling to the balloon!

Magic Pencil: Move a pencil without touching it! Balance a wooden pencil on top of a glass or bottle. Hold the charged balloon nearby and watch the pencil roll.

Shifting paper: Make a pile of paper (ripped into small squares) and hold the charged balloon nearby. Watch the paper shift (and hopefully leap up to the balloon!).

Sticky walls: Charge the balloon and then try sticking it to the wall or curtain.