Cartography Kiwi Crate


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Kiwi Co terms this their Treasure Hunt crate, based around a treasure chest and search for pirate booty. The projects are an excellent jumping off point to teach kids all about the science of cartography, a.k.a. map making. Thanks to the treasure chest and gold pieces, this one is sure to appeal to kids of pretty much any age!

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First up was making the treasure, Embossed Coins. Travis pondered very seriously how best to design each of the 3 provided gold coins, popping out templates of Steve the Kiwi and numbers.

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He didn’t quite understand how these could become coins until we covered his design with a gold sticker. Press down and – voila! – the design underneath appears!

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This had definite wow factor, even more so once running over the design with a q-tip for better embossing.

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Next, he traded coin minting for carpentry, and put together the Treasure Chest. He was a bit distracted looking ahead (a key! a lock!) but I guided his attention back to building the chest first. This involved slotting together pieces for the base and lid, and lining up letters to make sure each piece was in the right slot. I appreciated how intuitive Kiwi Co made this step!

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A wooden dowel is then inserted to hold the lid to the base.

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To add a swashbuckling touch, use a pipe cleaner to thread the provided rope through the chest’s latch. Add the silver lock. Travis loved practicing with the key over and over!

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We securely locked away our gold coins and it was time to Make a Treasure Map. This activity was absolutely fantastic for getting Travis to think about how objects look from above. (I had him imagine he was a bird; in what shape would the bird perceive our couch, our coffee table, etc.).

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There was a marked difference between his first effort (mapping our living room)…

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…and his second attempt (mapping the hallway).

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The provided pen is one of those fun ones with 3 colors of ink. We added a red X on each map for the treasure and a blue star for the start. He loved then hiding the treasure chest and sending me on a hunt.

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Then we flipped roles; I made a map of the kitchen and he had to puzzle it through.

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The booklet had a great explanation for kids about how they’re using math in this activity, everything from transferring 3D objects (solids) into 2D pictures, to the ideas of estimation and measurements.

As a bonus, we made Silver Pirate Coins for extra booty. Cut circles from thin cardboard (like a cereal box), then add other pieces of cut cardboard or patterns in glue on top.

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Let dry, then cover with foil and use a q-tip again to make your design stand out. We decided this worked way better on the cut cardboard version rather than the glue version.

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As always, Explore magazine had loads more information and activities to try, including another map to draw according to a provided legend.

For some fun reading to compliment this crate, check out Mapping & Navigation by Cynthia Light Brown or Small World: Maps and Mapmaking by Karen Romano Young.

Stars and Stripes Sponge Painting

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We’re gearing up for the 4th of July, and today Veronika got to make her first patriotic craft! She was too young for crafts last year at Independence Day, but there are so many fun red-white-and-blue projects that she can do now as a toddler.

For this one, we needed sponges in the shape of stars and stripes. You can cut these yourself, but I knew my scissor skills aren’t quite that deft when it comes to cutting sponges. Luckily we have a set of shape sponges attached to handles; I used the rectangle for “stripes”, along with the star.

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I showed Veronika how to dip each sponge in a plate of paint (use red and blue of course) and then press onto white poster board.

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She very quickly got the hang of it and loved it!

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“Stripes” were far easier for her to accomplish than the star, which needed even pressure along all 5 points, so I helped with those.

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It turned out that big brother Travis wanted to try, too! So after officially making our stars and stripes artwork, we dipped and painted with other shapes for a while. I love seeing the work of an almost-2 and almost-6 year old side-by-side.

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This was a great craft to fill a rainy morning.

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Sticker Art

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What can’t you do with stickers? They are the ideal material for kids in so many ways, whether on reward charts, for crafts, to make gifts, or more. Sometimes (like, say, a rainy morning) all you need to do is pull out your current sticker collection and let your kids go to town!

Right now I have loads of puffy stickers since these are easy for Veronika to pull from the sheets with little toddler fingers.

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I gave her paper plates as her canvas and she simply set to work. Peel off sticker, stick onto paper plate, repeat. This turned out to be excellent not just for keeping her busy, but also for vocabulary practice, since she wanted to name each sticker as she placed it on. “Bus! Tractor!” and so on.

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It also was great for the concept of matching since sometimes there were two of a given item in her sticker sheet. “One carrot, two carrot! One banana, two banana!”

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But mostly she just loved creating “art” with all the bright, colorful stickers. Big brother Travis joined in, too, deliberately creating themes on each of his paper plates.

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When the kids were done, I taped the plates to the wall for an easy “art gallery”.

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Veronika had also used heart stickers all over an empty water bottle.

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This turned into an impromptu flower vase, and actually looked quite beautiful!

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As a final component of the morning’s play, we made DIY stickers on blank office labels. Veronika scribbled on them with marker and then was delighted to realize they could peel and stick just like other stickers.

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We added a few of these to the paper plates, too.

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What is your toddler’s favorite sticker craft? Please share in the comments!