Little Artist Crate


Travis has not been very into fine arts crafts lately, so I worried our latest kit from Koala Crate might not hold his interest… To my great surprise, he was the one insisting we do each project, and mama was happy to comply! As far as Koala goes, this was a great crate to get kids simply, well, making art; in other words, heavy emphasis on the A in STEAM.

A quick note: You’ll need the provided paint markers for all three projects, so make sure you use them sparingly in each.

The first project is a nod to Piet Mondrian: a Color Block Painting using a provided canvas, paint, and washi tape. That name won’t mean much to your kids, but you can show them some of his canvases online! For Travis, the biggest thrill by far was the washi tape, which he impishly loves unwinding.

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We managed to get a few strips down onto the provided small canvas – don’t worry if you don’t wind up with exact rectangles or squares.

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The provided paint markers are good fun to squeeze onto the provided paper plate for a little artist’s palette. Needless to say, Travis didn’t exactly color block his paints into each of the washi tape squares…

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…but he loved mixing his colors all over.

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Once the paint is dry comes the big reveal, peeling back the layers of tape. Neat!

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The kit comes with a piece of cord and a sticky tab so you can mount your child’s masterpiece on the wall, a nice little touch that is sure to make them proud.

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The next project, the Art Smock, looked so exciting to Travis that he had to try it on right away.

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And then wanted to paint it at 7 o’clock at night, right before bath. I nearly said no, until remembering how much trouble I’ve had getting him to paint recently… If he was into it, then so was I! It was an important reminder to seize the right moment for your child’s creativity.

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He loved not only using the paint markers on the provided paper for his name, but also directly on the smock. Smears by Travis, slightly-smeared name by mama:

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Next up was the Abstract Sculpture, which started with the thrill of ball painting. Travis was delighted we did this on the bed – how taboo! Place the sheet of provided shapes in the Koala Crate (or other shoebox with lid); add the provided wooden beads, then squirt in the paints. We were nearly out of our paint markers (see my cautionary note above), but luckily I had some puffy paints on hand to supplement.

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Close the box. Now ready, set, shake! Pardon the mid-shake expression.

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Now we were looking at a cool Jackson Pollock result!

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Once the paint is dry, pop out the shapes. Now you can build a 3-D sculpture using the provided base full of holes; pipe cleaners; and painted beads and paper pieces.

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Travis preferred to bead me a full bracelet.

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No complaints from me!

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I showed him ideas for how to make the rest of the sculpture, but he wasn’t very interested. Finally, use the provided sticky foam to attach onto a cardboard base; this will keep your pipe cleaner pieces in place.

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You’ll end up with something very haphazard, like so:

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The kit didn’t end there! As befitting a crate that was all about art, there were suggestions for projects galore in the provided booklet.

First, we put on an art show. Travis and I talked about different kinds of pictures – portraits, landscapes, still lifes – as he scribbled with crayons and mama made some, er, inexpert drawings.

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He was very proud to see the art mounted on the wall and displayed for a “show.”

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The booklet also suggested several ways to explore painting, using everything but… a paintbrush!

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I set up a station for Travis with a feather, wooden block, sponge, pom poms (clip them with a clothespin for easy handling), comb, and ball.

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Travis loved the pom pom best, and then painted the block… with the feather!

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Use the ball at your own risk, ha. We didn’t even get around to painting with a q-tip or leaf, two other suggested items.

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Next we put together clay pictures. It was novel to use cardboard as a background, pressing pieces on. Travis said he had made a propeller plane, proudly wielded here.

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Mama showed him how to add texture to the clay with a pencil in this little pond scene.

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Finally, we ripped up tons of colored construction paper for a collage.

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I thought Travis might find this ho hum, but he had so much fun that soon he’d filled up all the space provided…

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…and we migrated over to the next page!

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He wanted to make a second collage, and we added bits like stickers, washi tape, and beads. Other good collage items include yarn, buttons, and fabric scraps.

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Overall, super high marks for this crate. All 3 activities were engaging and relevant, and we loved the suggestions for further exploration.