Mirror Illusions Kiwi Crate

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Travis’s Kiwi Crate this month focused on mirrors and the tricks of light that allow for illusions. There was a bit of overlap with the Secret Agent crate, so I was surprised it was next in our queue from the company, but he still enjoyed the projects!

First up was making a Trick Box. This very simply involved folding open the provided green cardboard box and slipping in an illustrated insert. (Kids also have the option to illustrate their own insert).

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Place the insert in the box, then slip in the provided mirror, making sure it is at the correct angle (arrows marked inside help kids to ensure a proper alignment).

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Peeking through the box now reveals the image in reverse. This was a bit lost on Travis, as he couldn’t read the “hello there” message he’d chosen either forwards or backwards.

More of an impact came from the penny trick you can perform: Drop a penny through the slot in the top and it seems to disappear, when really it is just falling behind the angled mirror. This is a fun one for kids to play a “magic trick” on friends and family.

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Next up was making a Painted Puzzle. Place the provided wooden squares in a frame, and cover with one of the provided clear stickers. Travis did this a bit differently, attaching all four clear stickers, so our results weren’t perhaps perfect.

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But the painting method was neat! Travis liked using the paint stampers, which are dipped into provided tiny paint pots. Cover the surface of the wooden tiles, let dry, then peel off the stickers.

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The painted puzzle can now be taken apart and put back together again. But even cooler is viewing it through…

…Mirror Goggles, the final project. To make these (which look almost like Google’s VR viewer), open up the provided cardboard goggle box.

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Travis got to exercise his fine motor skills to attach the sides with a brad; add padding foam around nose and forehead for comfort; and place a sticky donut and bead on top. This bead is going to help you keep your head up later, read on!

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Thread an elastic through the holes on either side and secure with cord stoppers, then attach a mirror to the underside of the goggles with sticky foam. Your goggles are ready for viewing!

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Wearing them took a bit of practice, with the goal of piecing together your Painted Puzzle or a provided wooden puzzle. I had Travis watch me first, as you really need to keep your head up to have the mirror show you what’s on the work surface below. Don’t tilt your head down for peeking or the bead will fall from the donut!

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Once he got it the hang of it, Travis thought it was so cool. I loved watching his hands move, forward when they needed to go backwards and vice versa, until he started to understand he was seeing in reverse; it was like observing the gray matter of his brain at work.

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If it won’t frustrate your kids, have them try writing their name or drawing a picture while wearing the goggles. Full disclosure, this is hard. Here’s my attempt to write his name!

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There was lots more fun to be had in Explore magazine. First, we made a map (a bit of an overlap from Secret Agent). When read normally, it led him nowhere. Then he looked at it through the selfie feature on my phone.

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Aha, he spots the treasure…

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Then I showed him an example of backwards writing (again an overlap from Secret Agent).

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There’s also a mirror word search for older kids, and a few cool mirror illusions you can try to recreate at home like multiplying apples…

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…or a disappearing middle!

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We finished with a bedtime read of two suggested books: Light: Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows by Natalie Rosinsky and Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer. The latter features fantastic poems that can be read both backwards and forwards.

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