Cityscapes Crate

Koala City (16)

Our latest from Koala Crate was a kit all about “cityscapes,” which introduced great city landmarks (i.e. the Eiffel Tower), as well as the various buildings, modes of transportation, or shapes you might find in a city. The crate used buildings as a leaping off point to talk about colors, patterns, and geometric shapes, making this one of the more STEM-related kits we’ve received to date.

To wit, first up were City Building Blocks. This project is clever, of course – for what is a city if not built up of blocks? Cement, stone, brick, you name it. There are 9 blank wooden blocks in the crate and 9 sheets of stickers with which to cover them.

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I was proud of Travis for latching onto the idea that each cube had six faces, and making sure to turn to an empty face before he added each new sticker.

Koala CIty (1)

Soon we had trees, walls, doors, windows, rooftops, and more. Your child can simply use the blocks to free-build a city…

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…or use them in a more educational way. Can you construct an all red building? All purple? An alternating pattern? (We tested out: door, window, door, window etc.). You can also talk about the shapes within the blocks, although we didn’t do much of that.

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One note of caution: the stickers are a bit tricky to peel off, which may lead to a moment of four-year-old frustration… Hopefully easily diverted!

When Travis spotted the glitter paint in the crate, he couldn’t wait for the next two projects. Because glitter makes everything better of course.

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First, we decorated the Stencil Drawstring Pouch, which is fun as a project and then handy later to store the blocks in. Slip the provided wax paper into the provided drawstring bag to prevent the paint from bleeding through.

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This project relies on stencil stickers. I paused to explain to Travis that the paint would go inside the blue lines, once I realized he was overlapping his shapes a little. He seemed fascinated by this, and most of our buildings turned out just fine. We talked about what went where in the layers of a city – buildings and trees on the bottom, rooftops in the middle, stars and clouds up top.

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To paint, dip the provided sponge brush into the provided paint cup, and dab inside the blue lines.

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Let dry for about one hour before peeling off the stencils and revealing your city.

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The final project, Skyline Paintings, employed the opposite method from stenciling (i.e. resist painting). I loved watching my engineer at work, talking about all the geometric shapes and what we could make from them: a house from a square and triangle, for example, or a bridge from a semi-circle and rectangles.

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Then he grew creative and started inventing his own. And of course then there was the fun of paint dabbing.

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Let the paint dry, then peel off the stickers. “How did it make the shapes?” Travis wondered, marveling at how his houses and towers looked once the stickers had lifted away.

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We’d used up all the stickers, but took some extra time to make our own neighborhood, talking about what shapes we see near our home. Soon we had a cute collage – rectangle buildings, semi-circle driveways, oval ponds, square windows etc.

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As you can see, this kit was heavy on the geometry, and on seeing and finding patterns. Happy kid, happy mama. Thanks Koala!

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Slow-Cooker Curried Chickpeas and Quinoa

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Set the slow-cooker going in the early afternoon for this recipe, and it’s ready by dinner time. We love walking in the door to the smell of curry!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas,┬árinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups chopped kale
  1. Heat a slow-cooker to high and add the onion and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower, tomatoes, chickpeas, curry powder, ground ginger, salt, coconut milk, and broth. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.
  3. Stir in the quinoa, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the kale and cook for a final 15 minutes – the liquid should be mostly absorbed.