KiwiCo Review – Kiwi Crate for 5-8 year olds: Learn about the Science of Tension

WHAT IS IN THE PUSH AND PULL TOYS BOX?

This is a great way of introducing kids to early scientific concepts found in physics – namely, force and tension. We love playing tug of war every evening with our wearable chewable cotton terrycloth band. When we hold it loosely so that it rests between us, it is slack. When we pull, that force travels along it and it becomes taut. That is tension at work. That pull force and tension can also be used to make something (or someone) move.

The first thing that you build with the crate is a simple puppet show. The handy diagrams and kid friendly physics explanations will help you understand that while building and playing with this you are demonstrating the use of levers, force, and tension. There are multiple backgrounds included and you can design your own.

The second activity sees you constructing two racing turtles and weaving their shells. You then experiment with string tension to race your turtles!

The nice thing about the solid wood shell is that if your turtles deteriorate in the future, you can use brightly coloured yarn to turn these into wall art or christmas tree decorations.

Want more ideas for learning about tension?

Get busy in the great outdoors! Go fishing. Play tug of war. Lie in a hammock. Carefully set up a tightrope between trees (low to the ground!). Play tennis. Visit a suspension bridge in your area. Go on a high wire obstacle course. Ride a zipline!

Get busy indoors! Ride an elevator. Play a guitar. Create a toy elevator (coming soon!). Create your own ‘floating structure’.

HOW DO I ORDER KIWI CRATE?

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 Kiwi Crate (or one of their other lines), you can receive 50% off your first box by clicking here.

What I like about the Kiwi Crate kits is that they use a combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics to explore a concept or idea. 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. Mind you, this only works if you spot the package on the door-step first – children become quite adept at recognising the green Kiwi Crate box and screaming with delight at it’s arrival!

The boxes are sent randomly so there’s no way to know what will come in the future; however, you can log-in to your account at the start of each month to see what box has been selected. Your box history is kept which means that even if you cancel and then pick-up again the following year they can make sure that you aren’t sent repeats of boxes.

WHAT IS IN A KIWI CRATE?

The Kiwi Crate is aimed at ages 5-8 years. It comes with a copy of the Explore magazine which opens with a fun comic about Steve the Kiwi and his friends. [As a side note, these are made by an American company despite the use of our New Zealand native bird]. These comics are really approachable for younger kids and a great way of exploring the concepts being introduced in a relateable manner.

The Explore magazine provides a range of information on the topic, it might include some simple games or tricks to try at home, and provide ideas for additional crafts / activities using simple materials. It also has a sticker [unique to each box theme] to put on your Kiwi Crate chart.

The box also includes an instruction manual and the materials that you need to build the main craft. Generally, there are two activities to do – one that is more art related, and one that is more mechanical engineering. What makes the kits special, is how well crafted the engineering components are. They really are designed for the intended age group so that they can either build themselves or help assist an adult. There are handy visual images and checkpoints to make sure that things are aligned correctly. There is no super-bonding-fingers-together wood glue to use with these projects (which makes them great for highly sensory children); instead parts come with double sided tape finely engineered on so that you just need to remove the backing strip of paper.

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

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 (learn about biology)

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

What is in the England 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 England.

There is a passport sticker to add to our Adventure Passport and various cards about England to add to it as well. These range from a country map and cultural information, to activity cards with things to do. The main focus of the information is on London; from Buckingham Palace, to Shakespeare, to the Tower of London. One of our favourite legends was about the Tower Ravens and we liked learning about the Queen’s Guards. We loved getting to build our own Big Ben – especially since it has a working clock face! There is also a little information on knights and castles – with the opportunity to make your own heraldry. We loved that this activity provided choices, information and suggestions.

We were also inspired to have our own learning adventures. We made light and fluffy scones, we researched Roman Britain and Londinium, Viking Britain and Jórvík, knights and castles, and British woodland animals.

Our Deluxe Box Book was Lonely Planet’s ‘London City Trails’. We enjoyed exploring some of the facts and photos inside but would have found it more engaging if there was an activity that accompanied it; it would be brilliant to use if actually exploring London!

HOW DO I ORDER ATLAS CRATE?

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).

WHAT IS IN AN ATLAS CRATE?

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

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

ExperisenseNZ

Exploring Maths through Art

Exploring Space through Art

Exploring the Human Body

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

What is in the Colombia 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 Colombia.

There is a passport sticker to add to our Adventure Passport and various cards about Colombia to add to it as well. These range from a country map and cultural information, to activity cards with things to do. The game in the box is inspired by Tejo – we agreed that playing tejo in Colombia looks like a lot of fun! We learned about the Wayúu weavers and were able to hand paint our own mochila bag. Check out our adventures at home: we were inspired to cook corn arepas, make decadent cheesy hot chocolate, and make a maraca. We really enjoyed going online to learn more about the mud baths of El Totumo, the beautiful colours of Caño Cristales, and watching great green macaw be born and learn to take flight.

Our Deluxe Box Book was the graphic novel ‘Juana & Lucas’ by Juana Medina which we very much enjoyed. We liked getting a glimpse into her life in Colombia and had fun learning a few words in Spanish.

HOW DO I ORDER ATLAS CRATE?

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).

WHAT IS IN AN ATLAS CRATE?

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

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

ExperisenseNZ

Exploring Maths through Art

Exploring Space through Art

Exploring the Human Body

Discover Colombia – how to make corn arepas

Arepa are one of the most popular foods in Colombia. They are often eaten every day and so versatile that they can be served as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They might be served with rich Colombian hot chocolate; with soft fresh cheese; with guacamole or fresh tomato salsa; with prawns; the possibilities are endless!

There are many recipes for arepas and this is one variant 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fine cornmeal flour
  • 1/2 cup Colombian queso campesino, or queso doble crema, or shredded mozzarella.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Butter / rice bran oil for pan

All about corn flours

An important note for this recipe is that in Colombia they use a special arepa flour (masarepa) which is a precooked fine cornmeal. It can be sourced in New Zealand but it is a speciality item.

If you don’t have access to masarepa, you can use a gluten free substitute; you will need a larger quantity as it will not absorb the liquid in the same way. For instance, 1.5 cups Cornmeal Flour (not to be confused with NZ cornflour) and 1/2 cup gluten free baking flour.

Directions

  1. Warm the milk and butter (either in a pot or in a microwave).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm milk (with dissolved butter) + cornmeal flour + salt + frozen corn + mozzarella. Mix until you have a dough-like batter.
  3. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into balls and then flatten.
  5. You can choose to: deep fry or lightly fry on a skillet / frying pan; give them a very light coating of oil and cook them in the air fryer (which I did); or even cook them in a panini press. The aim is to be golden crisp on the outside and cooked through. They are best served warm and are delicious eaten straight away.

Discover Colombia – How to make decadent hot chocolate

Chocolate sin queso es como amor sin beso, chocolate without cheese is like love without a kiss.”

It was fascinating researching this as part of our world studies unit on Colombia and delicious to try. This drink is an essential part of Colombian culture and often served for breakfast with arepa. It is an incredibly rich drink and worth noting that the cheese they use is Colombian queso campesino or queso doble crema; note these fresh cheeses are very different to something like our Kiwi block of yellow Colby featured in our quintessential mince and cheese pie.

Colombian Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • Stick(s) of dark chocolate
  • Full cream milk
  • White cheese

Those are essentially the ingredients; you can flavour with cinnamon and cloves if desired. Amounts will vary depending on how much you are making; I used about 1 sante bar, 1 cup full cream milk, and about 1/4c mozzarella. While delicious, I’m aware that it’s not quite the same cultural experience as I’m using my local ingredients.

Directions

  1. Warm the milk almost to a boil; watch closely and whisk.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until fully melted.
  3. Drop some mozzarella cheese into your cup and pour hot chocolate over the top.
  4. Let the cheese melt a little and enjoy!

Tip: In Colombia, they use a chocolatera and a molinillo for warming the milk and frothing the chocolate. Lacking these, I used a small pot and a whisk.

Discover Colombia: How to make a maraca

In studying Colombia, we were fascinated to learn about traditional maracas made from natural materials. These beautiful instruments are often large hollowed-out gourds with a wooden handle and might contain pebbles, or in the Andes mountain, smaller maraca called gapachos use seeds from the gapacho plant. It’s interesting to see how they contrast with the brightly painted wooden maracas that we are familiar with.

We decided to have a go making our own maraca using a few simple materials from around the house. We did a few different engineering builds and this was what we found worked best for us.

Materials you will need

Making your maraca

Start with a balloon

You’ll want to start by snuggling the empty end of a balloon onto the narrow end of a funnel. Pour in some dry rice or beans (give it a little shake to help them go in). Remove the funnel and blow air into the balloon. Kids are fascinated to watch what appears to be a solid shape still expand as the air pushes the sides out.

Tip: Blow up the balloon to the size of a really big coffee mug; the kind you reach for when the kids have been up till super late and then are awake before dawn the next day. We’ve found that you get better stability of the handle if you don’t make the balloon too big.

Attach a handle

Once you’ve tied off the balloon, take two popsicle sticks and tape these together to make a handle. I found it easiest to stick the balloon upside down and stretch the knot vertical along the base of the popsicle sticks to begin taping it. You’ll then want to use long pieces of tape (like compass points) to attach the handle to the balloon; add some horizontal lines of tape as well for extra support. When you’ve finished, the handle should be capable of standing tall in the air (though probably not strong enough to flip the maraca and give it a shake).

Make paper mache paste

I like to use a large plastic tray and my fingers. You’ll want to mix together equal parts flour : water; I also add salt as a preservative. I like to make mine fresh each day so I use 1/2 cup of flour plus about 1/2 cup water to begin with. You want to stir well so that you have a thick paste (you may need to add a little more water).

The great thing about adding your own paste is that you can be creative! We like to add different colours of glitter to each layer.

Start adding layers

Rip your paper into strips. It’s a good idea to have a mix of medium and short strips (with some variety of width). A small balloon is not the easiest surface to work on for this first layer so kids may need some adult assistance.

Tip: Do you need to use newspaper when doing paper mache? The answer is no. It’s a nice form of recycling but really you just need a porous paper that isn’t glossy. You know what else is brilliant for paper mache? Piles of old paintings and drawings (when you reach the point that there are too many to adorn the walls); these make for a fun and super colourful way of doing the layers!

Aim to paste on one layer of paper at a time. Remember to run strips from the handle down to the balloon, around the base of the handle, and along / around the handle itself.

Tip: I like to lay my strips on the paste (in the tray) and then pull it up, run my fingers along both sides to remove excess paste, and then place it on.

After each layer, leave your balloon for 24-48 hours to dry; placing it in the Hot Water Cupboard can help the drying process. It’s important that it has this time to air to avoid creating a habitat for mould. Paper mache projects teach patience.

You’ll only need 4-5 layers for the project. The top layer will ultimately be what is decorated.

Decorating your maraca

Kids can have so much fun with this! Here are just a few ideas:

Tip: If using paint, make sure that you leave plenty of time to dry between layers. Poster paint can be great for foundation layers but the water content means it has a longer drying time. We did several layers of white poster paint and then used acrylics for the detailing.

Engaging kids

This is a very sensory (and time consuming) activity and not all aspects will appeal to all kids. This is a great opportunity to brainstorm all the different roles that would be involved in bringing this to market in the real world. If your child would prefer an adult to do the goopy paper mache part, help your child play to their strengths and interests by finding a project role that interests them.

Do they like planning? Every project needs a project manager to identify steps, keep the team on task, and create a report.

Do they like numbers? Consider allocating a budget for materials (especially decorations). Consider what kinds of costs you might have for a larger run (i.e. 10 or 100 maraca); what price point would you set your maraca at? How might price impact sales and profits?

Do they like art and design? They might enjoy being the hands-on graphic designer and/or art director. This could involve getting creative with the paste as it is mixed and decorating the finished maraca once it is dry. They might want to draw inspiration from Colombia’s beautiful birds; the stunning natural wonder of Caño Cristales (the rainbow waterfall); or the brightly coloured town of Guatapé.

Do they like big ideas? Would they like to be marketing director? This means working alongside the graphic designer to consider what style of art and use of colour would be a good idea. What will make this maraca unique?

Do they like building and creating things? As engineer, they might want to test different strategies for connecting the balloon and popsicle sticks to create a single stable unit capable of being shaken vigorously.

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

What is in the Madagascar crate?

You begin by opening your travel mail from Milo and Anya to find out about their latest travel adventures! Miss 6 enjoys seeing them posing for selfies in the photos of Madagascar.

There is a passport sticker to add to our Adventure Passport and various cards about Madagascar to add to it as well. These range from a country map and cultural information, to activity cards with things to do. You can learn a few Malagasy words, discover unique animal species, have a go at painting Masonjoany, and make Godrogodro (a caramel spice cake).

We read our deluxe box book, Thank You, Baobab Tree, learning about how important these incredible trees are in Madagascar and how many uses they have. The baobab trees form an important part of the ecosystem as well as providing food, rich in vitamin C, and medicine.

One creature fond of the baobab tree is the lemur. The craft for this box is creating your own baobab tree, a launcher, and three lemurs. I did appreciate their eye for detail as you are given instructions on creating a ring-tailed lemur, an indri lemur, and a sifaka lemur.

Tip: You may want to use sellotape to help secure the inside flaps of the tree’s scooped branches and craft glue to help form a stronger attachment with the lemur components.

Learn to play Fanorona

Fanorona is a game of strategy indigenous to Madgascar. It is a game played by children and rulers alike. I love that it’s a visual-spatial non-linguistic game (perfect for kids whose learning strengths are in these areas).

The rules of Fanorona are reasonably simple but gameplay shows there is plenty of room for strategy, logic, and thinking ahead. We have very much enjoyed playing this multiple times.

HOW DO I ORDER ATLAS CRATE?

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).

WHAT IS IN AN ATLAS CRATE?

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

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!)

ExperisenseNZ

Exploring Maths through Art

Exploring Space through Art

Exploring the Human Body through Art

Exploring Spring: Flower Press and Life Cycles

Exploring Science through Experiments

Madagascar chicken

While studying Madagascar, I was fascinated by their terraced rice fields (unusual for an African nation). The Malagasy people use rice as a part of all three meals and also draw on many cultural influences in their cooking.

One dish that particularly drew my attention was this idea for a simple marinade that would allow me to make good use of our bountiful lemon tree.

Ingredients

  • Fresh lemon zest
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Coconut oil / Coconut cream
  • Chicken
  • Rice

Directions

Unlike most recipes, I’m keeping this simple since the focus is really on the combination of flavours used.

In a deep dish, place your chicken. You want something that will stay tender like chicken thighs or whole legs.

Onto the chicken, rub fresh lemon zest (the finely grated skin of the lemon), fresh grated ginger (or ground ginger), some crushed garlic, and coconut oil. Alternatively, use rice bran oil and add a little coconut cream to your finished dish.

Marinate the chicken overnight to absorb the flavours. Cook until tender using your choice of BBQ, skillet, or air fyer.

Serve with rice.

Consider adding a popular Malagasy side dish, such as Lasary Voatabia or Mofo Sakay.

Fun math games for kids – Sum Swamp

Learning Resources: Sum Swamp

Sum Swamp is a maths boardgame that practices addition and subtraction in a simple and colourful way. What I like about the game is that it is very appealing to visual-kinaesthetic learners. Children select one of the four colourful markers (frog, snail, dragonfly, or crocodile) and roll dice to create equations that determine how they move around the board. The full instructions are conveniently available to view online: here.

The game is aimed at ages 5+ and can be played by 2 – 4 players; younger children may prefer to play two characters in case one languishes far behind the rest. Children are learning to arrange sums so that the largest number goes to the left; to recognise plus (+) and minus (-) symbols; and to recognise odds and evens. The simplest addition sum in the game is 1 + 1 = ?; the most difficult addition sum in the game is 6 + 6 = ?.

Tips for scaffolding the game (decreasing difficulty)

  • You can make the game easier by using physical objects for children to count and re-group while they do the sums.
  • The game provides numeral dice; consider switching to dice with dots. This helps children by giving them something visual to count.
  • Provide a number line. There are various types that can be purchased or you could print one for free from Twinkl.

Tips for scaffolding the game (increasing difficulty)

  • Buy a write on / wipe off dice (or other blank dice) so that you can also use the game to practice multiplication and division.
  • Buy a set of beautiful gaming dice containing D4, D6, D8, D10, D10 percentile, D12, and D20 (check out colours like milkshake, undersea whispers, or supernova). This opens the game up to an older audience; for instance, you can do equations up to 20 (using D12 + D8) and up to 30 (using D20 + D10). You may need to come up with a few house rules as you move to bigger numbers; for instance: that you need to do two laps of the board to finish, or, that the maximum amount you can move forward/back in a turn is 10.

Fun math games for kids – Times Tables Heroes

Orchard Toys: Times Tables Heroes

Before we played Times Tables Heroes, we had already spent time looking at the concept of ‘grouping’ (multiplication) and ‘skip counting’. We ‘group’ our captured pieces when we play Fanorona and I show how we can count them by 1’s, or 2’s, etc; we collect pebbles on our nature walks and practice different ways to ‘group’ them to help us count them. Times Tables Heroes is a fun way of practising our times tables that Miss 6 genuinely enjoys (and much better than my memories of sitting in front of a chalk board while the entire class repeated after the teacher!).

The game comes with sturdy cardboard pieces and is easy to set-up. You choose from one of four superheroes (each of whom has unique super powers). Instead of rolling a dice, you spin two spinners. One spinner determines which multiplication table you will practice; beginner level practices 2, 5, 10 and advanced level practices 1 – 12. The next spinner determines how many ‘groups’ you will have; i.e. 12 groups of 2. Once you have announced the answer correctly, you move to the next vehicle on the board that matches the spinner.

I love that the game comes with a colourful multiplication slider. It’s easy to scaffold the game so that children begin by using the slider to find their answer and then, as they gain confidence, to check their answer. We also do a hand-clapping singing game to work our way through the times tables each time to reach the answer.

The twist for the game is that it also incorporates oral storytelling (a literacy bonus!). If you land on a vehicle with a shield then you pick up a dreadful disaster card and need to describe how you will use your superpowers to save the city. The game helpfully comes with a guide that explains the disasters but we prefer to make up our own, after all – would you rather defend the city from an asteroid, or from an attack by giant flaming meatballs from an alien’s intergalactic BBQ party?

Tip: What is wonderful for visual-spatial learners and kids whose learning needs mean they need lots of movement, is that they do not need to sit still for this game. Encourage them to get up and act out their story (or everyone’s story – though they may need to be encouraged to do silent mime on other people’s turn).

Tip: It’s easy for this game to tick off maths, oral storytelling, and drama in a single session. You could use it to further support literacy, by asking kids to later extend on one of their superhero stories by writing it down / typing it up. Alternatively, encourage them to dictate the story and focus on linear story telling, mind mapping what / when / why / who / where, and editing.

Tip: The Shield cards have numbers that provide bonus moves. We find the game quite short so we ignore this and our house rule is to treat these as victory points; this way everyone can have a go at defeating the robot at the end of the board and it doesn’t matter who gets there first.

Maths Bingo

You can also reverse the game board to create maths bingo boards (with extra boards available online).