Mars Rover Kiwi Crate

Kiwi Mars (9)

Travis has long had a fascination with Mars and the NASA rovers, so he was thrilled to discover this month’s crate from Kiwi Co. A chance to make his own rover! He wanted to know if it could really go to Mars, and although the answer was sadly no, there was lots of fun to be had.

We jumped right in to making the Mars Rover: Travis enjoyed helping with the axles, one featuring square holes and one round so kids can tell them apart.

Kiwi Mars (1)

The base of the rover is made from a wood frame, but Travis grew frustrated with the following step to thread through string that attaches the spring.

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The tension of this spring is what makes the rover move forward, similar to a pull-back car toy. With a little grown-up assistance, the rover was complete.

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He loved the second part of the project: Make the Flag. Using the wooden flagpole as a scratching tool, kids can scratch off the black surface of the flag to reveal rainbow paper underneath.

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The sky’s the limit for what design to put on the flag, but Travis just loved revealing the color underneath and spent such careful time on this.

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Once my artist declared his flag done, we threaded it onto the wooden flagpole. Insert the flagpole into the stand on the rover, and then i’s time to wind up and give it a test.

Alas, I can’t say any of us were wowed by the results. Yes, the rover moves forward, but neither very fast nor very far. Perhaps our strings or spring weren’t taut enough?

Still, we forged ahead to make the Crater Course. Layers of cardboard are piled up and put on a felt “Mars” surface. Send your rover over them and see if it can make it across the bumpy ground.

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There were lots of suggested ways to vary the course: Space the craters further apart, arrange them in different ways, or pile them on top of each other.

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After that, there was still more experimentation to try! We turned to the crate’s suggestion of rubbing cooking oil over the strings, to see if this resulted in a faster rover. Well, no, but the kids thought it was funny!

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Then we set up a little course for the rover, with a piece of cardboard angled off two books. Could the rover make it up?

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Alas, still no, even when we added other items (a paper towel, a fluffy towel) to give it more traction. Well, at least it could zoom down!

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As a final experiment, it was time to make our own Mars sand. We filched some from the playground, then poured it into the Kiwi box.

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Add a little bit of water, along with a steel-wool scrubber. Ideally we’ll see the sand take on a reddish hue in a few days as it turns rusty from the iron, just like the sand on the Red Planet!

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Pumpkin Halloween Masks

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We made a quick paper bag mask for Veronika today, which prompted the idea to make masks for our pumpkins, too! This is, incidentally, a great craft if your kids are constantly asking if it’s time to carve the pumpkins into jack o’ lanterns yet (ahem, like mine are). Adorn them with these mask faces now, and everyone is happy until carving day!

First, Travis helped me design a few masks for our biggest pumpkins. The lights were out from a storm (spooky!) so we drew by flashlight, which perfectly fit the mood. Let your kids design however they like, or provide examples like silly cheeks and big toothy grins.

Pumpkin Halloween Masks (1)

I repeated the activity with Veronika once the lights were on the next morning, drawing a brightly-colored jack o’ lantern face against an orange background while she scribbled on another piece of paper.

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She loved helping punch holes in the sides of each paper when we were done.

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I threaded bright yarn through the holes and then tied securely around each pumpkin.

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Our pumpkins have faces, and there’s no risk of rotting!

Halloween Countdown Day 8: No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

Halloween 8 No Bake Pumpkin Pie (7)

What better way to wait out the anticipation before you can carve your pumpkins… than to eat them! This pie should successfully tide everybody over until jack o’ lantern time. Bonus points: the recipe is easy enough that even my two-year-old can help!

First, combine 1/2 cup non-dairy milk and 1 packet instant vanilla pudding mix in a container with a lid. Seal and shake. Fun!

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Pour the pudding mixture into a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup canned pumpkin pie filling. Fold in half a container of non-dairy whipped topping (such as So Delicious Coco Whip).

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Spoon the mixture into a prepared graham cracker crust (such as Mi-Del), then spread the remaining whipped topping on top. Veronika was eager to hold the spatula and help smooth out the top!

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But mostly, she wanted to taste-test every step of the way. She earns an A plus for making sure every step of the recipe was delicious.

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Pop the pie in the freezer for at least 2 hours and voila, a pie that never needs to bake.

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Your kids might think it’s Halloween magic!

Halloween 8 No Bake Pumpkin Pie (9)

Paper Bag Faces

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We had a few extra paper bags from the grocery store lying around, so today Veronika and I had fun with them in two ways. You can turn a paper bag into a face… or be the face inside one!

Similar to a recent game with paper bag “blocks”, first I stuffed a medium-sized bag with crumpled up pages from an old magazine.

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Fill nearly to the top, then gather together the extra material and secure with a rubber band.

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I invited Veronika to come help draw a face on the bag. We added cheerful eyes and a big silly smile so the bag wouldn’t scare her.

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Kids will love saying hello to this new friend, or might want to pick it up and carry it around. Veronika almost seemed to think it was alive, asking it to sing songs with her!

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Now that she had a new friend, what would she think if she was the face inside the bag?

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After she scribbled on a second bag with marker, I cut out two big eye holes, then popped it briefly over her head.

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Boo! She thought it was silly for a few minutes, but then tired of it.

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But there’s no better season than Halloween to scare up some fun with an activity like this.