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One of the things that are really important to me as a parent is not over-scheduling my children.
I’ve mentioned before that my girls attend a Chinese immersion school and, especially with Ani transitioning to full-day school this year, I feel a strong responsibility to keep their afternoons as open as I can so they can play and not feel like they’re being rushed from place to place.
Ani goes to a tutor twice a week for 40 minutes to practice her Chinese and Ella has her online math class for an hour once a week and those are the only things we have in the afternoon.
Our local rec center passes allow the girls to do drop in Zumba and yoga classes each week and our library has Lego club, so those are options if they’re feeling a bit stir-crazy and want to get out of the house, but it’s just as easy for us to skip if they want to be home (which, to be honest, is most days).
We never have any screen time in the afternoon (I don’t think it would even occur to my children to ask for it since it’s never been part of our daily routine), so the tablets and television stay off and it’s just a really relaxed time for free play.
When the weather is nice, they play out in our backyard, often with the neighbors, for hours, making up elaborate imaginative games, making forts out of sticks or picking apples.
Indoors, they might color or play card games or read with me or play in the basement.
And, of course, their favorite afternoon activity is our KiwiCo subscription boxes.
If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that my girls are absolutely obsessed with these. We’ve been doing them for nearly a year and my girls still act like it’s Christmas morning when they come home and see that their boxes have arrived.
I love KiwiCo because their hands-on projects make STEAM learning really fun and help kids to see themselves as makers. (STEAM = science, technology, engineering, art, and math.)
And as a mom who hates dragging all four of my children to the store (even worse than over-scheduled children? Children who come home from school and have to be strapped in the car and run around town), I love the convenience of having absolutely everything needed to build the project right there in the box, ready to go.
If you need tape for a project? There will be tape strips in the box.
Crayons? They’ll be sent along too.
I love that when my girls finish their snacks and are ready to dive in, I’m not scrambling to find a supply or having to call quits on the project halfway through because I discovered we DIDN’T have clay and I don’t have time to run to the store before dinner.
It’s so clear to me that KiwiCo was designed by a mom who knew the pain points of projects with kids and made the whole thing effortless for busy parents.
And I love seeing my girls work through the projects, figuring out what works and what doesn’t and then using their projects in their imaginative play.
Tally’s most recent Koala Crate was all about the ocean, with a color and shape matching game (she’s been playing it non-stop since it arrived and I love how sturdy and reusable it is!), plus these cool mosaic projects where you have the black outline of an ocean animal and then clear film that you can stick different colored tissue paper to on the back. Ours sat in the window for more than a week and they looked so pretty with the sun shining through!
Star’s Koala Crate was all about rainbows, so she also had a mosaic project with rainbow tissue squares, plus a project to watercolor a little tote bag with a water dropper and rainbow tissue paper squares. The water soaking through the paper picked up the colors and made the most beautiful colors on the bag! There was also a third project where you made a small cloud shaped pillow with a rainbow on the front.
Ani’s Kiwi Crate was to make a real working claw that picks up items (this happy side benefit of this project is that it made her enjoy cleaning up the playroom more!) and
Ella’s Tinker Crate was also a claw but this was one was controlled by hydraulics.
I’ll tell you what, I wasn’t doing ANYTHING with hydraulics when I was nine. I still need spellcheck to even write the word “hydraulics.”
KiwiCo has crates for all ages from babies to teenagers in a wide variety of subjects, including geography, art, and engineering and we’ve tried almost all of them (Doodle and Eureka are the only ones we haven’t tried yet). They’re all SO GOOD.
The older girls can do theirs mostly independently, while it’s fun for me to help my little girls work on their projects.
Especially as the weather gets colder and darker, KiwiCo is a lifesaver on those afternoons where my children are stuck inside.
We also save homework for after dinner, because my girls need some wind-down time after a fairly intense day of school (particularly for Ani who spends the second half of the day in Chinese immersion where there is zero English spoken for several hours).
Once everyone is in their pajamas and Tally is in bed, Ella uses my laptop to do her math and science and Chinese homework while Ani and I do her daily reading together before I read aloud to them before they go to bed.
I’d love to hear what your afternoons look like – do you have sports or dance or are you mostly at home?
And if you haven’t tried KiwiCo, I highly highly recommend it – it’s been one of our favorite things this past year!
You can try any one of the KiwiCo crates for free here (all you need to do is cover the shipping!)
Photos by Heather Mildenstein