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

KiwiCo – discover the world!

WHAT IS IN THE WORLD CRATE?

The World Crate is in an introduction to the Atlas series and will be the first box that you receive. It introduces the children to careful Milo (the prepared planner) and carefree Anya (let’s go!) as they realize they would love to see the world.

Learn about maps, continents, and the world!

There are a number of activities for kids to do in this first box 🙂 After reading the welcome story from Anya and Milo, they can choose what they would like to do next.

Spinning Globe

KiwiCo – Atlas World Crate – Create your own globe!

The first thing activity that Miss 6 chose was making her own globe. This activity provides a great introduction to teaching continents, introducing concepts of Latitude and Longitude, and talking about 2D vs 3D representations of the world.

You can personalise your globe by adding a cool red felt heart. For kiwi kids, be aware that despite the branding this is produced by an American company and New Zealand is not included on the globe (neither are other non-continental islands such as Japan, Indonesia, or Madagascar). I told her this was simply because New Zealand is full of so much aroha that we get a heart icon ❤ [There was also a less well received explanation about continents].

How to explain Day and Night

A fun activity to do with your new globe is exploring why the Earth’s rotation (spin) creates day and night cycles. All you need is a lamp or a torch! Miss 6 loves to spin the globe in front of the sun (lamp) and see where the heart lands. If it’s facing the sun then it’s morning, if it’s facing away then it’s night time, and if it’s half way then she decides it’s afternoon. It’s a great way of demonstrating why it might be daytime where you live but night time for friends or family living elsewhere in the world!

Learn how to read a map (treasure hunt style!)

KiwiCo – Atlas World Crate – Introducing Longitude and Latitude

The World Crate comes with a World Map for the wall. This allows you to extend on the concepts being introduced to go from continents to countries. It also introduces how to read a compass rose (North, South, East, West), and how to read latitude and longitude (i.e. 38’S, 175’E).

It also comes with a colouful activity sheet with a number of questions for kids to answer by finding co-ordinates on the map.

Make your own passport

KiwiCo – Atlas World Crate – Create your own passport!

Kids get to take charge of their ‘Atlas Adventure Book’ by personalising it with stickers and adding their name. They can also choose what order the continent (or section) cards are arranged in. These are: Australia & Oceania, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, Africa, and Antarctica.

Each continent card comes with some colourful photos and cartoons, trivia, and a basic map. Subsequent boxes, themed by country, will add a country card and passport sticker to their Adventure Book.

WHAT IS THE DELUXE BOX BOOK?

KiwiCo – Atlas World Crate – Deluxe Box Book

We received “The Atlas Obscura: Explorer’s Guide for The World’s Most Adventurous Kid” by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco (retailing at NZD$47).

It contains “47 countries and 100 extraordinary places to visit” and is themed around interconnectedness. Rather than grouping countries by continent, or ordering alphabetically, this takes you on a hopscotch tour around the world to illustrate how our world’s wonders can be curiously linked.

It begins in Iceland by descending into Thrihnukagigur volcano, before imagining the Blue Whale migration near Husavik. It then speeds you across the world to Zambia for a different kind of migration: the fruit bats of Kasanka National Park. The Devil’s Swimming Pool is next, followed by a different wild waterfall – the Blood Falls of Antarctica.

Each country visited has a map icon showing it’s location on the globe, a few facts (including one obscure one), two interesting locations, phenomenon, festivals, or human achievements, etc. A key tie-in to the World box is that each ‘place’ visited provides Latitude and Longitude co-ordinates for locating it on the giant world map.

Was it worth it?

Pro: It’s a colourful and unique book that we can tie in with the world map. It also retails well above what was charged for it.

Con: Miss 6 isn’t particularly interested. She has about a 5 – 10 minute attention span for jumping into the book randomly. She’d rather be able to spin the globe she made and have that determine where we visit in the book; what we really needed was a world map included in the book with stars for all 100 locations visited!

Overall: One of the tricky things with books and the Atlas line is that it’s aimed at quite a diverse age (6-11 years); I suspect this book is probably of more interest to 8-10 year olds. What we will probably do is reference it with each subsequent Atlas crate and also look up photos/videos online of the places referenced.

Alternative books

KiwiCo also provide book recommendations on their website for each crate. For the World box, they suggest Barefoot Books World Atlas and The Barefoot Books Children of the World. We picked up a free secondhand copy of ‘Children of the World’ and Miss 6 loves it. It’s very approachable for younger kids (and those that struggle with reading) as it’s highly visual in its approach illustrating ways that different families might live, eat, dress, and play around the world.

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.

WHY ORDER AN ATLAS CRATE?

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).

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.

CHECK OUT THESE KIWICO Kiwi CRATE REVIEWS:

Arcade Box (and the Claw!)

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

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

The Disc Launchers Box (play games with physics!)

World Studies: How to make your name using a secret Inca code!

How to make your name in a secret Inca code!

Ways of recording information

The Inca civilisation had a complex administration system keeping detailed records of supplies, people, tributes, and stored goods. They also maintained over 40,000km (25,000 miles) of paved roadways with an State chaski messenger relay system.

As well as a rich oral culture, detailed records and messages were kept using quipus (kee-pooz). Instead of a system of written symbols (such as hieroglyphics or an alphabet), the Inca had a woven system of multi-coloured knots suspended from a central string. Different kinds of knots, their colour, and their position had different meanings that translated into a numerical system.

Creating a simple number cipher

To explore the concept of recording information without using a written language, we will begin by creating a simple number substitution cipher where A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. This will then get translated into a series of knotted beads.

Simple number substitution cipher

Weaving words

Materials

  • Coloured yarn
  • Beads
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Start by choosing a word that you want to record (such as a name); as in English, you will read this from left to right (with each letter being read from top to bottom).
  2. Weave a simple plait to act as your top anchor; it’s a good idea to have a loop at the left end so that it’s clear where to start reading from.
  3. Knot a piece of yarn to the top anchor (you can slip it through the plait before tying it to help make sure it doesn’t move). Attach the relevant number of beads to correspond with the letter you are recording and knot beneath them so that they don’t slide off.
    • Letters A – I (numbers 1-9) will be represented by a corresponding number of beads close to the top anchor (i.e. A =1 bead).
    • Letter J (10) will be be represented as a single bead further down the strand.
    • Letters K-S (11-19) will be represented by a single bead further down the strand (representing one 10) with a knot to hold it in place, an approx. 5 cm gap, and then a group of beads to represent the ‘ones’ (i.e. S/19 will be one bead = 10, and then a group of nine beads = 9), and a knot to hold in place.
    • Letters T – Z will be represented by two beads further down the strand (representing two 10) with a knot to hold in place, an approx. 5 cm gap, and then a group of beads to represent the ‘ones’ (i.e. Z/26 will be two beads = 20, and then a group of six beads = 6), and a knot to hold in place.
  4. Keep following Step 3, with a separate piece of yarn for each letter.

Example:

Lily (12/9/12/25) = One top anchor with four strands hanging from it. Reading from left to right, these will hold the following beads: low 1 (10) + 2 (2); high 9 (9); low 1 (10) + 2 (2); low 2 (20) + 5 (5).

Sam (19/1/13) = One top anchor with three strands hanging from it. Reading from left to right, these will hold: low 1 (10) + 9 (9); high 1 (1); low 1 (10) + 3 (3).

Tip: Older kids may want to create their own variation of this code by creating meaning based on the colour, size, or type of beads being used.

Want to find out more about the Inca?

One of my favourite books is proving to be Inca Discover the culture and geography of a lost civilisation. It’s well laid out, has plenty of pictures and infographics, and (very importantly) it has lots of ideas for easy to complete projects to help develop learning. This craft is inspired by one of their projects.

A wonderful animated short video for children is The Rise and Fall of the Inca Empire.

Want another project? Why not try making your own Inca Rope Suspension Bridge. This particular project references the Inca using rope bridges made of woven grass to cross narrow river canyons (such as the Keshwa Chaca – Quecha Bridge).

Want to learn more about Quipus? Try this short National Geographic video: Threads that Speak – How the Incas used strings to communicate.

Homeschool STEM: How to make your own rope suspension bridge

Make your own Inca Rope Bridge.

What do you do all day when you homeschool?

Well, lots of things really. It also differs so much from family to family. One unifying factor tends to be the freedom and flexibility to embrace a learning style that works for your particular child (or children). We tend to do lots of hands-on project based learning that weaves together different disciplines. This project for instance encompasses literature, world studies, art, engineering, and problem solving.

We flowed down the Amazon River, away from Brazil’s Pantanal and portion of the Amazon rainforest, to Peru with its vibrant surf culture, Cabillitos de Totora, and the towering Andes mountains – historically home to the Inca civilisation. We have a number of resources from documentaries, to Twinkl, to books; one of my favourites is proving to be Inca Discover the culture and geography of a lost civilisation. It’s well laid out, has plenty of pictures and infographics, and (very importantly) it has lots of ideas for easy to complete projects to help develop learning. [My only wish for improvement would be the addition of colour to make it more visually appealing for children].

This particular project references the Inca using rope bridges made of woven grass to cross narrow river canyons (such as the Keshwa Chaca – Quecha Bridge).

Materials

  • A shoebox or similar (We made excellent use of a KiwiCo box!)
  • Yarn or string
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Craft materials for decorating the landscape (such as construction paper, markers, or paint).

Directions

  1. Imagine your box is a deep canyon with a river at the bottom. You can decorate it pretty much however you like (from marker pens, to paint, to showers of glitter). We opted for blue construction paper glued in as the river, and crumbled green construction paper as a mountainous landscape in the distance.
  2. Use a sharpened pencil to create a hole near the top edge of one side of the box (and a matching hole on the other side). I was delighted to find that my Kiwico box width was exactly the length of my pencil which made the whole hole making process delightfully easy! I was happy doing things by eye, but a ruler will come in handy if you’d like to be more exact.
  3. Measure a piece of yarn or string so that it will travel from one hole to the other with length left over at each end. This will form one of your handrails.
  4. Thread the yarn through the hole and secure it with a large double knot. Then thread it through the opposite hole and knot it again (check the tension to ensure it is tight).
  5. For your second handrail, move along the box about the length of your little finger. Make another hole (plus one opposite) so that you can repeat Steps 3 and 4.
  6. Now you’re going to make the bottom of the bridge. Imagine a triangle (base facing the sky). Find the mid-point between two holes, measure down about 5cm, and create a new hole (see photo). Create a matching hole on the opposite side of the box. Thread the string through and knot if off (making sure to keep it taught. I used a pencil on each side to help weight the bridge (twisting to add tension).
  7. The final step is making the sides. Cut lengths of yarn (around 15cm). Tie each length to a handrail, loop it twice around the bottom, continue up to the other handrail, loop it around, and then knot. Techniques will vary; I opted to loop mine back and do two sliding knots on the upward slant of the ‘V’. Repeat this process until have traversed the canyon!

Involving kids…

You can tailor this project to the age and interest of the children involved. A simple way to get them involved is by asking them, ‘What would you make a bridge out of?’ and then talking about their answer (and relating it to the real world if applicable – easy to do if they say wood, stone, or steel, trickier if they say marshmallow clouds!).

Ask them at each stage of the process what else they think the bridge needs. After explaining that the first piece of yarn is a handrail, they will hopefully start thinking about the other hand and the feet!

Give them a couple of toys to test the bridge as it is built. Explain that testing designs is an important part of engineering. They may well delight in seeing the figures plummet to the depths below and swim to shore to try again. We found the best ‘to scale’ figure was a Playmobil child crossing the river to meet a grazing Peruvian llama at home in its Andean highlands.