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!

Materials

  • 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.

Directions

  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.

KiwiCo Review: Kiwi Crate for 5-8 year olds – Learn about Mirrors and create Illusions!

WHAT IS IN THE MIRROR ILLUSIONS BOX?

This box encourages children to reflect on the question: How do mirrors work? The Explore magazine gives lots of fun ideas on how to explore this, such as : using a mirror map, writing a secret message using mirror writing, and creating infinite reflections.

Kiwi Crate’s Mirror Illusions box comes with materials for three crafts:

DESIGN AND PAINT A JIGSAW

We really liked the colour palette provided for this and that the paint stampers/dabbers can be re-used as an ongoing art resource. There is a selection of special stickers to choose from that will provide a magic ‘negative space’ when they are removed after painting. The two jigsaws can be used double sided which means that you can end up with a total of 4 puzzles (the emoji face + 3 of your own design).

MAKE YOUR OWN MIRROR GOGGLES

These really emphasize just how helpful it is when our brain automatically processes and translates reflected light for us. With these mirror goggles, a disconnect is created. Your hands need to move in the opposite direction from what your eyes are telling you. If you move a puzzle piece towards you, it will look like you are pushing it away (and vice versa). If you try writing your name, it will appear upside down without the goggles. A fun challenge is trying to write a name or phrase ‘upside down’ so that it appears correct without the goggles.

MAKE A MAGIC TRICK BOX

These are fun to make! There are a few options to choose from for your inner illustration (or you can design your own). When performing, simply ask for a coin from a member of the audience, drop it in the slot, and Hey Presto! it appears to vanish right in front of their eyes. The secret to the magic trick is the slanted mirror inside that creates an optical illusion and hides a secret compartment.

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

#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

KiwiCo Review: Kiwi Crate for 5-8 year olds – Learn About Time

WHAT IS IN THE MARBLE TIMER BOX?

This box encourages children to think about time. It explores the history of timekeeping leading up to our current international system of time zones and modern timekeeping devices.

Kiwi Crate’s Marble Timer box comes with materials for two crafts:

DESIGN A MARBLE RUN (and TIMER!)

Marble Runs are just generally fun! This one has a push-bar built in so that when the first marble reaches the bottom it triggers the second marble dropping. To extend the fun, the pre-cut backboard allows the wooden ‘shelves’ to be placed in different configurations. Children can experiment with engineering different drops and angles to see how this impacts the time taken for all the marbles to reach the bottom.

CREATE DIP-DYE WOOD ART

These make beautiful ornaments that can be used for anything from bookmarks to Christmas Tree decorations. There are three pieces of carved wood for you to create unique art with. You’re provided with everything you need, including plastic cups, clips, and liquid colours. We also used our dipper from the KiwiCo Surface Tension box.

Children can experiment with the dipping process to see how time impacts the intensity of the colour and how double dipping can create new blended colours (such as: blue + yellow = green).

We loved this so much that we plan to repeat this at other times of the year, by buying plain seasonal wooden ornaments (i.e. at Christmas or Easter), to craft something that is truly unique.

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

#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

How to make butter at home!

This is fun activity to do with the kids that requires no electricity or fancy gadgets – just a little patience!

Ingredients

  • Cream
  • Glass jar with lid

In New Zealand, you just need standard supermarket cream; in countries where cream is differentiated by milkfat, you want heavy cream.

Optional: You can add extras to your butter once it is made. Consider: salt; honey; a garlic herb mix; brown sugar and cinnamon; finely chopped lavender petals and honey.

Directions

  1. Half full your glass jar with cream and put on the lid (tightly).
  2. Start shaking!
  3. Phase 1 – you’ll hear a sloshing sound as the cream moves around. Phase 2 – silence…you have whipped cream thickly coating the glass. Phase 3 – the glass begins to clear and the sloshing sound begins to return. Phase 4 – you clearly have a ball of butter in the middle sitting in thin white liquid (buttermilk).
    • Note: the timing for this is impacted by the weather! This activity is made more difficult by very hot and by very cold weather.
  4. Pop the jar in the fridge for an hour or so to set.
  5. Drain the buttermilk (you can drink or use it for cooking).
  6. Pour cool water in the jar and give it a shake. You will need to wash the butter several times until the water remains clear. This helps to remove the buttermilk and casein traces that will otherwise go rancid.
  7. Tip the butter onto a dish (or bowl) and press with the back of a wooden spoon (or even a metal fork). This will help to bring out the water which needs to be drained off.
  8. Now your butter is ready to have any desired salt or flavours added.
  9. Butter will keep best in the fridge (wrapped or sealed).

KiwiCo Review: Kiwi Crate for 5-8 year olds – Learn about the Night Sky (Stars + Constellations!)

WHAT IS IN THE NIGHT SKY BOX?

This box encourages children to explore the night sky using both science and their imaginations. They learn about the science of stars (and build a solar spinner) and how to imagine a night sky full of stories (drawing dot-to-dot constellations and making a constellation lantern). There are also instructions on how to turn your Kiwi Crate into a solar oven – which we have successfully done 🙂

Kiwi Crate’s Night Sky box comes with materials for two crafts:

BUILD A SOLAR SPINNER

The Solar Spinner lets you build a mechanical model to demonstrate the way the Earth moves around the sun, and the Moon moves around the Earth. It’s also a useful model to use for discussing the changing phases of the moon.

MAKE YOUR OWN CONSTELLATION LANTERN

This easy to build lantern lets you copy (or design your own) star constellations using star stickers over lantern paper. The candle provided is battery powered and has a flickering effect for added cosiness!

Want more ideas for learning about stars and constellations?

We love the book Space Atlas by Tom Jackson and it forms part of our homeschool library.

You could download a free Exploring the Night Sky activity pack from Twinkl which includes learning about moon phases, making a solar system mobile, and finding out more about constellations. They also have star spotting constellation checklists for both the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere.

Learn more about why the moon appears to change with a child friendly video (@ SciShow Kids) or diagram (@NatGeo Kids) about moon phases. You can also experiment with moon phases at home with just a few simple materials.

Try making a solar oven and cooking s’mores or melting cheese on corn chips.

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)

#7 The Science of Tension (make push and pull toys)

#8 Learn about Surface Tension (experiment with water)

KiwiCo Review: Kiwi Crate for 5-8 year olds – Learn about Surface Tension

WHAT IS IN THE SURFACE TENSION BOX?

We recently learned about force and tension in the Kiwi Crate Push and Pull box. This time we learn about a different type of tension – surface tension! Ever wonder why water soaks into some materials but pools on top of others? Well, water droplets are pretty sticky and they most like to stick to each other – especially on a surface like wax paper that is water resistant. That ‘stickiness’ is also at it’s strongest on the surface – which is why insects like water striders can delicately move across it.

Kiwi Crate’s Surface Tension box comes with materials for four experiments:

BUILD A BLOB

Liquid watercolours in primary colours are provided along with water resistant wax paper and a stirring stick. When you squeeze the watercolours onto the wax paper, instead of dissolving into the paper – they sit on top and make blobs! You can make small blobs, big blobs, and baby blobs. You can move blobs by herding them with your stick. You can merge blobs and watch the colours change to orange, green, purple, or ‘muddy mix’. The fun science magazine comes with kid friendly infographics to explain why when you drag one water droplet, its friends want to stick together and come along.

MAKE A WATER MAZE

This activity reminded me a little of wooden mazes and steel ball bearings that we played with as kids – twisting, turning, and tilting, to try and guide the ball to the centre of the maze. This brings a whole new level to the game while teaching us about science. The maze that you build combines water absorbent walls with a water resistant floor. It is a fun challenge and the secret is definitely patience (and slow movements!).

MAKE A WATER ELEVATOR

So, when we were learning about (cable) tension, we built a toy elevator. This time, we’re kind of making an elevator for water and it works because of that principle of water being ‘sticky’. Cool Science Experiments have a great visual demonstration; KiwiCo simplify things by providing a kid friendly kit. We have tested this with friends and it’s a ‘magic trick’ that does not fail to entertain and amaze! It is important that you remember to soak the yarn (water follows water) and that you keep a careful eye on tension + pour speed. Have some towels handy just in case you need to mop up spills.

MAKE YOUR OWN WATER STRIDER

I shared a video at the start of the post about water striders – excitingly, you get to make your own! You get a bunch of wires that you can crimp and then use to make a water strider. You can also experiment with making shapes to float on the top of the water. What gets a bit tricky, is that your insect’s legs and feet need to be balanced on the surface; if the angles are not quite right then they will pierce the surface tension and potentially drag part of your insect under the water. If you’re struggling a big with the water strider, try using the dipper to gently place a needle or paper clip on the surface.

Want more ideas for learning about surface tension?

Did you know that soap impacts surface tension? You could explore this with Nanogirl as to why soap makes a super shield, or you could try the rainbow swirl magic milk experiment.

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)

Science: Learning about tension – How to make a toy elevator

How does an elevator lift work?

In our KiwiCo Kiwi Crate Push and Pull Toys box we learned about force and tension. When we hold a rope 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 especially when we add a simple machine – like a pulley. SciShow Kids gives a great visual example of how this works: click here to watch.

An elevator lift relies upon the science of tension so that those vertical cables, a pulley, and counterweights, can create a lift force in order to move people or objects. An elevator lift’s science and internal mechanisms can make for fascinating reading and is more complex then this simple build. This craft is a great place to start for younger kids, and older kids may want to engineer their own more complex designs!

How to make a kids toy elevator lift

Our Kiwi Crate came with this great idea in the Explore magazine!

Materials

  • Sturdy cardboard box
  • Wooden dowel (cut to size)
  • String
  • Pencil, scissors, glue, sellotape, ruler.
  • Decorations

Tip: Where can I get a wooden dowel? Turns out, lots of places! Craft stores and hardware stores are a good place to start. Keep in mind that you’ll want the wooden dowel to be at least the width of your box (with some extra length each side as turning handles).

Instructions

  1. Cut the lid / flaps off the top face of the box. (Save them)
  2. You want to make a small hole for your wooden dowel. Stand your box and choose a short end to be the top of the ‘building’. Choose a ‘side’ of the building and use a ruler to measure about an inch down from the ‘roof’ and make a pencil mark. Use a sharp pencil (or scissors) to carefully push a hole through the cardboard.
  3. Slide the wooden dowel through the hole and use it (as well as your ruler) to help you position a matching hole on the far side of the ‘building’.
  4. To make your ‘elevator’, cut the cardboard that you saved into two strips. Experiment with scoring and folding these, then slide them together to make a rectangle (you’ll need to tape or glue the sides). You will need to trim them to size as if they press too closely against the building walls, friction will slow the elevator’s rise.
  5. Make two holes in the ‘roof’ of the elevator.
  6. Measure and cut your string; you want it about twice as long as your building is high.
  7. Thread string through one hole and tie a knot inside the elevator lift. Take the other end of the string and wrap it around the wooden dowel (acting as a pulley) and then place the end through the roof of the elevator and knot it off.
  8. Make sure your string has equal lengths on each side and then tape the centre of the loop to the dowel.
  9. Have fun decorating your building and elevator 🙂
  10. You are now ready to lift! Simply twist the handles and watch the elevator rise as the string wraps itself around the dowel. Observe how the lift force requires the cable (string) to retain tension in order to operate. Discuss what would happen if the string was too long and stayed like limp spaghetti. What can you lift? Are some things too big or too heavy? Do some shapes wobble and fall off? Is it the right height to transport cars or dinosaurs or dolls where they want to go? What size might you need to reach a floor in a dollhouse, or the top of a coffee table, or the seat of the couch?

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 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