Arcade Kiwi Crate

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Whenever we walk into an arcade, Travis’s favorite game is the claw machine, even though we almost never win. So the instant his Arcade kit arrived from Kiwi Co., I knew it was going to be a huge hit. He got to make his own claw and prizes…and was sure to be a winner this time.

There’s tons of STEM to love about this crate, especially in the first project: The Claw. Start by reading the explanation of how this simple machine works: a string that moves a bolt that pulls a connector that pulls a claw, resulting in the claw opening. The booklet even explains how it closes up again, when stretched-out rubber bands want to revert to their unstretched shape, pulling everything closed again.

To prepare the Claw, Travis followed along layering bolts, wooden pieces, and nuts in the proper order, using the handy color-coded piece of cardboard that is the guide.

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Once assembled, the claw then lifts right up off the guide. A long wooden handle is attached in the same way with a second guide.

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Travis had to test it out on baby sister’s toys right away, of course!

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We immediately had to follow up with the next project: Pom-Pom Prizes. This was the artsy part of our STEAM lesson. Attach the end of one provided yarn bundle to a wooden pom-pom winder with a sticker, and loosely wind the yarn around.

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Having made homemade pom-poms, I appreciated how Kiwi took all the guesswork out of this, with yarn that looped along in no tangles. Now secure around the middle with the provided pipe cleaner.

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Slide the yarn off the winder and use scissors to snip open the loops of yarn. Fluff it out and you have a pom-pom! The pipe cleaners now bend down as little antennae and there are sticky-back wiggle eyes to adhere as the final touch. The crate contains enough material to make two. Travis loved these creatures, even before turning them into arcade prizes!

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It was time to put it all together and play the Claw Game. We cut a rectangular hole in the lid of the Kiwi Crate, leaving about a one-inch border, and a second hole on the side, leaving about a 1/2-inch border. Cut a piece of plastic from a gallon plastic bag to fit over the hole in the lid, and tape it on securely.

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We taped on the provided Claw Game decorations, then filled the box with little knickknacks from Travis’s treasure box. And added in the pom-pom prize of course.

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Travis was so proud once he got the hang of it.

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Mommy got the grand prize pom-pom!

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As always, we turned to Explore magazine for extended fun. There is a page filled with “penny arcade” games, a fun riff on the old-fashioned term, where kids can play games on the page with a literal penny.

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Next we made a Laser Maze with crepe paper.

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A big fun house challenge!

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Finally, we made the Tilt-to-Win: Cut empty paper towel tubes to various lengths and cover each in a different color construction paper. Glue construction paper to a large flat box as the background, and glue on the tubes.

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Once dry, add a point value to each tube with marker. Put in a small ball, and take turns seeing how many points you can get in one minute.

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This is almost like a handheld pinball machine!

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The two recommended books are worth investing in, as each contains more ideas than we’ll ever get to for gaming fun. Do check out The Kids’ Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities That Make Science Fun and Play These Games: 101 Delightful Diversions Using Everyday Items.

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Sticky Step

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Veronika is so close to walking, but still walks very stiff-legged when she holds our hands, her knees barely bending. This activity will not only delight your toddler, but is also great for strengthening those little leg muscles and encourage high stepping!

Tape a piece of contact paper to the floor, sticky side up. The set-up itself was of course fascinating for Veronika, who loved “helping” with the tape.

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I held her hands and helped her walk along the sticky surface. At first she looked so surprised, but once she saw my encouraging smile, she bravely marched across the contact paper, knees lifting high to pull up with each step. She kept looking back over her shoulder at me in delight, as if to say, “Mom do you feel this too?”

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Have fun with the contact paper while it is out! It’s great for sticking on lightweight toys.

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And she kept dabbling in placing her toes on it, as if just to make sure it was still sticky.

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