Storytime Crate

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My hunch seems correct, that these Koala Crates are growing more sophisticated as our subscription moves along. To wit: the storytelling box we received tackled excellent preschool skills, including the parts of a story, the flow of narrative, imagination, and basic letters/handwriting.

Travis carried the box in from the package room so there was no stopping him – nor time to gather myself together as the adult assistant! – and next thing I knew we were setting up our puppet theatre.

The theatre is easy to slot together, simply adding a white magnetic board background, scenery inserts, and a curtain to the provided cardboard “stage.”

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We talked about what might happen in each scene… What would he see in the city, for example? Lots of helicopters, he decided! Already I loved the dialog that this crate was opening up.

The curtain comes on a rod that slots into place and then is secured by foam circles, and can twist up or down.

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As a slight fault in design, the curtain is very easy to twist up, but was really frustrating for Travis to twist down. I managed to curb a tantrum and found that it worked best while twisting with one hand and gently tugging on the curtain with the other.

Crisis averted, and very quickly we were moving on to the Dress-Up Puppets. This craft would be hard to replicate at home – you’ll have to buy magnet sheets and do a fair amount of coloring and cutting.

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I was thankful to Koala’s efforts as we punched out all the characters, clothing, and props. The props stick right to the magnetic white board hiding behind our scenery!

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For the people, place on a magnetic strip, then dress them as you’d like.

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Travis and I had a great time selecting a background and discussing which props made the most sense in each scene.

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I loved the imagination that followed. Here was a story line about two friends who share a snowsuit when one was cold!

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He loved being silly, too, like putting a car in the icy mountain setting, having a crocodile chase people at the beach, and dressing this little character in a cloud:

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The third activity in the kit was alphabet cards and Alphabet Card Games to go with them. Mommy was excited about this one, Travis a bit less impressed. First, they are fantastic for handwriting practice. The white board slides out of the puppet theatre, and becomes an erasable board, thanks to the provided dry-erase marker. I was really glad for this prompt to practice handwriting. Show your child a letter, then either have them write it or guide their hand, for those just learning.

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Another option is to show your child the picture on each card, and have him or her tell you what letter it starts with, great for phonetic skills.


Or, ask your child for another object that starts with the letter. Here’s Travis drawing an ant for a.

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And of course he loved cleaning the board with a paper towel. I can see us having fun with this deck of cards for a long time to come!

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The Imagine booklet also included great creative prompts to get your little storytelling acting, like being in a dark cave, or eating a birthday cake.

Finally, we put together suggested monster bookmarks, great for marking your place in a book as your enjoy many a storytime together. First, trim the corner from a business envelope.

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Use remaining parts of the envelope to cut out teeth.

Travis made pink monsters, and I colored in a green one.

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To finish, simply tape the teeth on with clear tape, then glue on two googly eyes.

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We won’t forget which page we’re nibbling – er, reading – now!

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In sum, this felt like the most “advanced” crate in terms of topic. Can’t wait to see what’s next Koala!

Whoopie Pies

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This is the most decadent dessert I’ve cooked up in a while, but sometimes you just need a super-chocolatey treat. This recipe is made possible thanks to vegan marshmallow crème!


For the cakes:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan buttermilk*

For the filling:

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 ounces Ricemellow Crème
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup mini non-dairy chocolate chips
  1. To prepare the cakes, combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the Ener-G egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and beating well after each addition.
  3. Drop the dough by heaping tablespooons on greased baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.Whoopie Pie (1)
  4. To make the filling, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, ricemellow, vanilla, and cocoa; beat until smooth.Whoopie Pie (2)
  5. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons filling on top of half of the cookies; top with the remaining cookies.
  6. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl, and roll the sides of the whoopie pies in the chips. Delish!

* To prepare the buttermilk, pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a measuring cup. Fill with plain unsweetened non-dairy milk to equal 1 cup and let stand for 5 minutes.

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