Farm Crate

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Our latest kit from Koala Crate was all about the farm – not just animals, but also the  vegetable growing element of farming, which I loved since it’s not as common to find toys in this category. Overall, the kit was fantastic for play – not as much of a crafting one – which suited Travis just fine. In short, he loved this one!

The first project was to create pipe cleaner-and-bead vegetables, which could then be planted in the provided vegetable patch (a cardboard base with form “dirt” cut outs).

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The materials were great for Travis to practice bead threading in any order he liked; when he tired of that, I then assembled the veggies “correctly” so the beads wouldn’t get lost.

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From there, he couldn’t get enough of the game! He loved poking his fingers through the dirt, planting the veggies, pulling them up and seeing if he had a “match” or a “mis-match,” and then starting all over again.

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As we planted our veggies, he so eagerly asked, “When will they grow up?” I loved how he understood the concept of veggies growing in the earth.

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The kit also had stickers to decorate the base of the garden, including cute ants and worms, so we talked about how these itty bitty helpers help a garden grow!

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I put together the barn that came in the kit – a cardboard frame with adhesive Velcro dots – only because misaligned Velcro wouldn’t have held the barn together; however, preschoolers should be able to tackle this step on their own no problem!

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Finally, it was time to assemble our felt animal finger puppets, and I was impressed with Travis’s craftsmanship on these (already an imdprovement over the stickers he placed willy-nilly on last month’s Safari crate animals!).

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Ok, not all of our animals looked exactly “right”, but he really thought about where everything should go before adhering – eyes up top compared to noses etc. When I gave him the pig’s curly tail, he even said told me it should go on his back, using both sides of the puppet.

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Later in the week, we continued the gardening fun with a final, at-home project. I cut up a bunch of celery, a bell pepper, an apple, and mushrooms, and laid them under a blanket (brown for “dirt” of course), and let Travis loose in his own “vegetable garden”! He loved unearthing the real veggies.

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To get crafty with it, I laid out plates of paint, and Travis dipped the cut sides of the veggies into the colors.

vegetable-prints-6His own creation turned into a very smooshy painting…

vegetable-prints-7…so I also made a print of my own to show him the different patterns that each fruit or veggie could create. The celery almost looks like a rose!

vegetable-prints-9In sum, we adored this crate. Thanks Koala!

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Indoor Fishing

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We took home a cool magnetic wand (a small magnet glued to a craft stick) from a workshop recently, so I wanted to continue the magnet play at home. Did you know pipe cleaners are magnetic? The outside is fuzzy, of course, but don’t forget that filament of metal in the middle! To play with the idea, we twisted colorful pipe cleaners into a school of fish.

Cut pipe cleaners in half, and simply twist the ends so each has a tail. You can also make large fish by not cutting the pipe cleaners in half first.

To make a fishing rod, we found a beautiful stick outside – the snow melted just in time! I attached the magnetic wand to the stick with a piece of string. Note: You could also skip the craft stick, and simply glue a magnet to the end of the string. Now we had our fishing pole – although around here, I tell Travis we are “rescuing” the fish with our fishing pole instead of “catching” them!

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I set up our pipe cleaner fish on a piece of blue craft foam for a pond, and Travis loved this imaginative element to the game. He tried picking up some fish while standing with the full rod…

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…but then preferred to hold the craft stick and pick up the fish more easily from the ground.

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We then had fun pairing up the mama and baby fish (i.e. big and small) of each color, which was a cute exercise in size and colors.

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What else can you find around the house that is magnetic and adheres to your wand or rod? Please share fun ideas in the comments!