Pond Ecology Kiwi Crate

Here’s our unboxing review of Travis’s latest from Kiwi Co, all about the ecosystem of pond life. This was a neat divergence from past crates, in that it focused on a place rather than one scientific principal. There was lots to learn about frogs, fish, and more!

The first project was the most creative of the lot: making Chalk-Art Frogs. The process relied on surface tension (floating chalk) to color in the provided paper frog shapes. Travis helped put together the provided chalk grater and loved carefully grating a mix of chalk colors into it.

Tip over the provided tray of water and gently tap out the chalk. We did a test run on a provided square of paper first.

Lift up gently for the big reveal!

Next Travis carefully added the frogs, which didn’t pick up the chalk as clearly as the white paper, but were still neat. Let dry completely, then move on to…

…project two, a Leaping Lily Pad. The scientific principal in action this time was energy, as in a spring (or a frog’s legs). Travis decorated the provided cardboard lily pad with a few of his completed frogs, then it was just a matter of wrapping it with the provided rubber band to create tension.

Release, and…. Pop!

We found that this only worked if we used both provided elastics, not just one.

Now it was time to peer under the pond water and make an Aquarium in a Bottle, with the scientific concept of density at play. Travis mixed the provided salt into warm water, and filled three small plastic cups. For a fun way to color them, Kiwi instructs kids to scribble marker over thin paper squares. Place the paper in the cups, one each for red, yellow, and blue, and the water immediately changes color.

Next, he used the provided syringe to fill plastic fish with this colored salty water. The booklet contained helpful tips for testing the buoyancy of each fish. If there was too much water and not enough air, it sank; squirt out a little. If it floated on the top, there was too much air and not enough water; add a little more from the syringe!

When all our fish were just right, Travis added them to the provided clear bottle for a little “aquarium” he can keep on display.

Kiwi often provides ways to upcycle the crate itself, and this month was no exception, with a suggestion to make another “leaping” project: Lively Leaper frogs.

Cut the front flap from the crate (or a similar box) that measures 7 inches long x 2 inches tall. Make notches at 1.5 inches and 3.5 inches. Fold in half at the 3.5 inch mark, then fold again at the 1.5 inch mark, down in the opposite direction.

Just like the lily pad, hold your finger on it, then release and the frog “jumps”. We added a little green frog with marker for extra effect.

Overall, Travis liked that this crate explored lots of scientific concepts instead of just one topic in depth.

Dinosaur Fossil Excavation

Depending on the age of your child, this game can be either mostly sensory play or mostly STEM play. Either way, it’s sure to delight!

I set up a dinosaur excavation pit for Veronika with three kinds of “dirt”. The first was a box of chocolate cake mix, the second was crushed chocolate cookies, and the third was regular flour (although whole wheat flour probably would have worked better).

Next, I buried a few of our small plastic dinosaurs under the “dirt”. If your children are older, you can use store-toy bones or fossil prints, instead (or even make your own). Since I knew Veronika wouldn’t quite understand what she was seeing with the fossils, we stuck with whole dinosaur bodies. She was about to be a very lucky paleontologist.

I scattered a few rocks on top for a finishing touch, then set out an old shaving brush, bucket, and shovel. Time to dig!

She immediately took to shoveling up the dirt and transferring to her bucket, a process which she absolutely loved.

I showed her how to brush the dust and grime off the dinosaurs as she unearthed each one, but honestly she wasn’t much interested. Dinos, rocks, and dirt alike went into her bucket and then were dumped into the tray to start all over. She also enjoyed pouring the “dirt” back and forth between a few small plastic cups.

Don’t fear the clean-up. The mixture sweeps up easily… as long as you don’t get it wet. Trust me: You do not want to deal with wet chocolate cake mix on your floor.