Some weeks ago, Kiwi Crate sent me a sample crate for the girls to play with. I'd heard about these crates even before this and had thought they were a great idea for gifts, so I was very excited when this turned up on my doorstep one evening.
The girls responded exactly as I thought they would.
"Wow, Mom! That's a great box! Yeah, don't throw it away, okay? We should save that box to make something with!"
Brava, my children. I have trained you well.
They did eventually get past the box, of course.
Ours was the Colorful Inspiration crate:
The folks at Kiwi Crate were nice enough to pack enough supplies for all three girls to play. I love that they didn't need to share; each girl got to do all three included projects.
The girls enjoyed the contents of their crate over the next few weeks and weekends. Rather than devour the lot over a short afternoon already packed with homework and extra-curricular pursuits, they took their time with the projects.
The first was a simple spinner and color-mixing activity.
It was fun watching how the different ages of my kids translated to different experiences with color mixing. Kate (4) drew multicolored radial lines on her paper circles, Jenna (6) turned hers into a six-slice rainbow pizza and Emily (8), who'd done a module on the color wheel in art at school, really got into color mixing.
I loved all the supplementary literature that came with the project - questions to extend the learning experience
and a photo gallery of what other kids did, along with background and commentary from the designer of the project.
Project #2 was a faux stained glass collage made with a cardboard frame and colored cellophane, cut up and sandwiched between two sheets of contact paper.
Kate was very assiduous with this craft and it occupied her for a good amount of time.
When Jenna came home from school, she worked on her frame
and then went a step further and decorated the white backside of it. Jenna believes that there is no point leaving something plain if it can be rainbowed.
At the time of this photoshoot, Emily hadn't made her picture yet, but already a trend was emerging: the older the child, the tinier the pieces of stained glass.
We followed the instructions to wet-and-squeeze the entire bag before applying the tissue paper squares, onto which we then dropped more water.
Here is that wet-fabric effect on two of our bags: a light, diffuse, blended pattern.
I thought I'd experiment and slightly disobey the instructions - I found the same canvas in my stash, cut out rectangles but did not pre-wet the fabric. The result: more distinct shapes, and brighter colors.
Even naughtier, I pressed a second rectangle onto the first, to get a mirror image from the same tissue paper squares
and then sewed the fabric into a pinch-frame iPod case.
The girls had so much fun! Let me tell you what I liked about our crate:
- The materials are of really good quality and gorgeously packaged. We love the lime green Fiskars scissors!
- The crate was generously packed - the wooden spinners, for instance, were accompanied by a whole stack of paper circles to make multiple versions of the project and there were enough tissue paper squares in each one-serving pack for us to make three totes and the spin-off iPod case.
- The instructions and literature were fun to read, easy to follow and full of delightful illustrations.
Would I buy these? Definitely. As I mentioned earlier, I'd heard about these crates even before Kiwi Crate contacted me, and I'd actually had them on the girls' wish lists for gift ideas from grandparents and suchlike. With schoolwork and extra-curricular activities going on during term time, the girls don't really craft as much with me as they did when they were smaller. Consequently, I don't feel like I need to prepare craft activities for them as often as I used to. Every now and then, however, they still turn up in the kitchen, moaning about being bored. Those are the times I wish I had a secret stash of prepared crafts to pull out. In that sense, these Kiwi Crates are sheer genius. They're packed and ready to enjoy and are designed precisely for that age group (3-7) that's just old enough to be enamored with creating but not quite old enough to be fully swamped by schoolwork - the age that us moms refer to as The Busy Years. From what I've seen on their site, the projects range from the ingenious to the more familiar (especially if you've been in the craft blog circuit for a while) but they all look gorgeous and well-designed and, really, nothing beats having all the materials prepped for you so you can dive right into the making.
More information about Kiwi Crates can be found here. They can be bought on a subscription basis or as individual crates. Each crate is typically packed for a single child (our sample crate was specially packed for our three girls to be able to enjoy all the projects) but you can choose the Add-A-Sibling option for any crate or simply buy more than one. See here for what comes in the actual individual-crate version of ours. The single crates, of which you can pick the themes, are obviously perfect for birthdays and holiday gifts. But think of other the possibilities: the kid whose Mom just had a new baby, the parent who needs concrete ideas for a themed birthday party, the kids' table at a wedding, the raffle prize for the fundraiser...
Other fun links to check out on the Kiwi Crate site: here is the gallery of recent sample crates, this is the list of all the crate themes, this is where you can write to the good people at Kiwi Crate to give feedback and submit ideas for projects and here's a fun contest (you'll have to like them on FB to enter).
Thank you, Kiwi Crate, for our enjoyable afternoons playing with color!