Glowing Nature Crate

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There seems to be a feedback loop between our Little Explorers and Koala Crate subscriptions these days! Having recently learned all about glowworms through the former, our most recent crate form the latter was not just about nature but about glowing nature and touched upon… glowworms! Luckily there was very little overlap in the projects. Thanks to the booklet and crafts, we covered: glowing fungi; glowing insects; and glowing sea creatures.

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Travis loved the crafts in our kit this month. We started with the Mushroom Lantern, which featured a pitch-perfect way for preschoolers to paint; squeeze from the provided paint tube onto the mushroom’s plastic cap…

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And then dab on with the sponge brush.

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Travis loved the method so much that some additional squeezing and dabbing on newspaper had to happen.

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We left the mushroom cap to dry, after which it fell to me to finish the craft. Attach the cap to a cardboard tube base by threading a pipe cleaner through the cap and a foam circle (this is your lantern’s handle), and then pushing the foam circle into the tube to secure. Glow-in-the-dark stickers around the mushroom cap are the final touch, and what will make your lantern glow after charging in sunlight or other direct light.

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While our mushroom dried, Travis couldn’t wait to start on the next craft – the most adorable stuffed Glowing Firefly. The kit came with a sock in glow-in-the-dark material; try painting glow-in-the-dark fabric paint on a white sock to replicate this at home. Before we even began the craft, the sock itself and the fluffy roving were big hits.

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We’ve had stuffing projects from Koala before which Travis was a bit young to help with at the time; this time around, he inserted much of the roving himself!

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I added the provided rubber bands to seal off the end and head, and looped through the fabric wings. Travis squealed with how cute our firefly was once we attached 2 googly eyes.

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Then it was time to set it beneath a lamp (direct sunlight also works) to charge up. For some daylight fun, the firefly is also perfect for adorable games of catch.

As we waited, we dove right into the final project: a glow-in-the-dark Jellyfish Game. I was a bit disappointed in the mechanics of this one, both because it was very hard for little hands to put the craft together and because it didn’t last long once created.

Travis could definitely help thread the fabric tentacles through the cardboard jellyfish body…

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And add the eyes and glow-in-the-dark stickers…

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But from there it was up to me to thread the jellyfish through a provided cardboard frame and rig it up on the window with provided suction cups.

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To be fair, Travis went wild for the game; by tugging on the strings, children can now wiggle and wobble the jellyfish around.

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A couple vigorous tugs broke the frame, however, so the fun didn’t last long. I was disappointed Travis didn’t get a chance to see the jellyfish in motion after dark and all aglow. Luckily there were additional stickers to decorate our underwater scene, which Travis loved with and without the jellyfish around. So my best advice for enjoying this craft is to proceed gently!

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The booklet included a very cute counting poem about glowworms, which became a fast favorite of all the glowing creatures.

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We looked them up online, before acting out the glowworm activities – inching along, and curling up to sleep.

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For further glowworm fun, make a quick glowworm cave by squirting glow-in-the-dark paint into a mason jar.

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You can simply squirt in the paint, or smear it with a q-tip. Or perhaps your child will think this looks like little fireflies caught in a jar!

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As the grand finale, we set all three toys under his lamp near bedtime, then turned out the light for a glowing extravaganza!

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Gourd Pets

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On the heels of our Fall Friends, Travis wanted to decorate more little creatures to celebrate autumn. This time we turned gourds into patio “pets”, thanks to this cute suggestion from Barefoot Books‘ Kids Garden set.

We don’t have our own garden, so didn’t actually harvest our gourds, meaning we could skip the steps of cleaning them and leaving them to dry out for a few weeks (!). A quaint stop to purchase gourds at a farmstand did the trick instead. Still, because I knew he would love it, I told Travis we needed to clean the gourds before we could decorate them.

Add a little dish detergent to warm water and give your gourds a nice soapy scrub, then dry.

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From there, I simply placed a big pile of craft supplies in front of Travis and let his imagination take over. The older he gets, the more I love providing minimal direction and seeing what he’ll do.

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He was most into painting the gourds, and loved the way the brush worked on the different textures, i.e. our bumpy ones versus our smooth ones.

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There was also some fantastic color mixing going on; I loved the hues he made to go on our white gourd.

Because we were making them into pets, I asked Travis if the gourds had names. He quickly responded that they did, including Ranger and Radar. Several of the gourds then received glue and feathers, making them seem like fantastical birds.

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Googly eyes were the finishing touch before we set them aside to dry. Feel free to add other crafty items as well, such as ribbon, markers, or glitter.

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Once the paint and glue dry, find a spot for your “pets” in a garden or patio.

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Now enjoy them all season!

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Fall Sensory Jars

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This easy project works on several skills: sorting, fine motor skills, plus a little bit of science when it comes to what will sink and what will float. But never mind all that – kids won’t even notice they’re learning; they’ll just love the process and seeing all the pretty fall-colored things in their final creation!

To start, gather any fall-themed or fall-colored bits that will fit in your water bottle. I had hoped to use foam shapes in the shapes of leaves, pumpkins etc., but wasn’t able to find any at the store. Instead, we had an assortment of little wooden craft leaves, paper leaves, and buttons and pom poms in autumnal colors. Bits of fall-hued ribbon would work well to!

To start, encourage your tot to sort the items by kind (or by color, if you prefer).

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Travis was impatient with that step because he couldn’t wait to get his hands on the water bottle. Pour a little water from the top, leaving it mostly full, and begin adding your items.

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Here is where we had fun guessing what would sink and what would float. Buttons made a quick descent to the bottom, whereas our pom poms and wooden leaves stayed near the top.

The narrow opening of the bottle also posed an interesting puzzle for Travis to work out. How could he fold our leaves so they fit inside?

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Once the jars are filled, use a hot glue gun (grown-up step) to seal on the caps. Now your child can watch the items swirl back and forth!

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