Kiwi Air Crate

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Travis latest crate from Kiwi Co. focused on the science of air, using a game of homemade air hockey to illustrate that air has matter, weight, can push things around, and more. This kit earns high marks for both the Science and Art components of the STEAM acronym.

First, we made the various parts of Balloon-Powered Air Hockey. The mallets are a simple matter of attaching felt to the bottom of provided cardboard circles, with a foam donut on top as the handle.

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The puck was a touch complicated to rig together, with a balloon stretched over a tube on top of a smooth clear disk. There is a hole to insert the provided air pump and inflate the balloon. Travis loved doing this and wanted to practice over and over, before we even set it down on a table.

Once on a table, the air is released from the balloon, which then propels the disk forward.

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To make Spray-Art Scoreboards, we again needed to use the crate’s air pump. Now, it attaches to the lid of the Kiwi Crate (or any shoebox) with a sticky foam piece. Attach a provided ink marker just below where the air will come out.

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We then affixed number stencils to the paper on the provided scorecard pads. When you squeeze the air pump (hard!), it blows on the marker so forcefully that ink sprays down onto the paper around the stencil.

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This had definite wow factor. You do need to pump the air quite hard, so some grown-up assistance was required. Repeat until you’ve covered all the scorecards, then remove the number stencils.

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Now it was time play! We rigged our regular table into an air hickey table which form the alleyways on either side that will stop the puck from flying off sideways.

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Pump up the balloon and play!

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I do have a few small quibbles with this crate. It comes with two balloons, but both had an air leak after only one round of air hockey. Also, because the balloon puck lasts under a minute each time you inflate it, you really can’t get into a rhythm of playing the game.

But in terms of illustrating the science of air, it made its point. And my 6 year old liked beating mommy at the game!

We turned to the Explore magazine for a few final experiments. First up was an oldie-but-goodie (a Coat Hanger Balance), that gives an easy visualization that air has weight. Attach two balloons to either end of a hanger, one inflated and one not. Suspend the hanger from a pencil and notice the slight tilt.

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Then we made a Marshmallow Squasher! Add mini marshmallows to an empty plastic water bottle until it is about half full. Insert the air pump into the bottle, sealing around the top of the bottle with play dough so no air can escape.

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Hold the play dough firmly with one hand and squeeze the pump with the other… and watch the marshmallows squish down!

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Pesto Pasta Salad

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Here’s the second recipe Travis helped prepare from his Raddish Kids package about Lunchtime Love. And there was lots to love about this one, particularly blending up the pesto. Travis is always up for a chance to use the blender!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups uncooked fusilli pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 and 1/2 cups loosely-packed fresh basil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups loosely-packed fresh spinach
  • 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegan Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Place the frozen peas in a colander and drain the pasta directly over the peas. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the bowl with the peas and pasta; set aside.
  3. To prepare the pesto, combine the garlic, basil, spinach, lemon juice, salt, Parmesan, and olive oil in a blender; process until smooth.
  4. Pour the pesto over the pasta mixture, stirring to coat.

We read more about the history of pesto on the recipe card while Travis lunched. There was also a fun feature about different types of lunchboxes from around the world. We’ll be thinking about this when we pack up for the first day of school next week!

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People Puppets

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Veronika loved a recent twist on block play, where we adorned regular building blocks with faces. Today I used roughly the same idea to make people puppets!

Simply cut out faces of family and friends from photographs, then attach each one to a jumbo craft stick. Cover with clear contact paper to seal and protect.

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That quickly, the puppets were ready to play. Veronika loved saying hello to them!

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(Though she sometimes seemed put out that they didn’t respond back!).

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We acted out all sorts of familiar scenarios between parents and kids, or just made up silly stories. Either way, she definitely marveled at the fact that people she knows were right in her hands in puppet form.

She also just loved carrying them around.

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This was simple but engaging puppet play, and easy enough for any day.

Balloon Fun

 

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I’m of the firm opinion that balloons are not just for birthdays. To wit, here was a fun way to play with a few on a random rainy morning!

I blew up about five balloons, which of course is half the fun right there. Veronika loves to pretend she’s blowing them up with me. (Note: always supervise balloon play closely, as they can be a choking hazard).

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I then hung each balloon from a string and suspended them from an archway. Give your child a wiffle bat and let the balloon bopping begin!

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Veronika took a few swings, but then honestly preferred just walking underneath them. She loved the way they bounced on top of her head.

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We invited big brother Travis over, but one whack of the bat took them all down from the ceiling – whoops! So perhaps you’ll want to save this one for younger toddlers.

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