As parents, we share the same concerns about the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, and the impact it will have on our families. Here at KiwiCo, we asked our team to work from home. Many of us have children who will be home with us for the foreseeable future due to school closures.
We know a lot of you are also trying to find a new normal, including keeping your kids busy at home. So today, we’re launching a resource hub for parents to help support learning at home, with loads of stay-at-home educational activities for every age, tips from teachers on effective remote learning, and kid-friendly content that connects science with their daily lives. To start with, we’re bringing you an explanation of the science of handwashing, to help kids understand why it’s so important. We’re going to be adding new content and resources to the hub regularly. We’ll also be switching up our newsletter to bring you helpful resources more frequently, and you can follow us on Instagram for daily updates.
Please take care of yourself, and reach out if we can help. We’re here to support you and your family during this time. We’re in this together.
This is a common question us parents get asked when November rolls around. So, this year, we decided to dive into the Daylight Saving Time details to impress our kids with all the answers.
Daylight Saving Time is confusing no matter how old you are. (Even the name itself is confusing. No matter how much we want to add an ‘s’ to the end of saving, it is in fact, singular.) The concept of saving time doesn’t really make sense since the process doesn’t save time rather it shifts time. In many places in the world, Daylight Saving Time is called Summertime which is a more sensible alternative. So, with all the confusion that comes with tinkering with time, we set out to find the answers to all the kid questions to come.
Kid Question: So why does it get dark earlier in the fall and winter?
Answer for Ages 3-5: In the fall and winter, an hour of the day is moved to the night. In the spring and summer, an hour of the day is moved to the day.
Answer for Ages 6+: Daylight Saving Time starts with the Spring Forward. Typically on the second Sunday in March, people turn their clock forward one hour at 2 a.m. The skipped hour doesn’t just disappear though. It’s moved to the daytime which is why it stays lighter for longer during the spring and summer. Daylight Saving Time ends with the Fall Back. On the first Sunday in November, people turn their clocks back by one hour at 2 a.m. The extra hour of daylight is returned to nighttime which is why it gets darker earlier in the evening in fall and winter.
Kid Question: Okay… but why?
Answer for Ages 3-5: A really long time ago, a bug scientist had an idea to take two hours from nighttime and add them to daytime so there would be more sunshine after work to go bug hunting. Later on, other people thought of the same idea. But instead of moving time to look for bugs, they wanted more hours of daylight so people wouldn’t have to turn their lights on until after dinner.
Answer for Ages 6+: Over 100 years ago, a bug scientist (aka entomologist) came up with the idea to move the clock two hours forward so that there would be more hours during the daytime rather than nighttime. The same idea was later adopted by entire countries during World War I. By moving the clocks forward and making it lighter out for longer in the day, people didn’t need to use the lights in their houses as much. This meant that people used less electricity and countries could save energy. And saving energy means saving money!
Kid Question: Does Daylight Saving Time happen everywhere?
Answer for Ages 3-5: Less than half of the countries in the world do Daylight Saving Time. In the United States, all but three states (Indiana, Hawaii, and most of Arizona) don’t change their clocks. In Arizona, it gets really hot, so people don’t want more sunshine during the day. A lot of toasty countries in the middle of the planet also don’t do Daylight Saving Time because it gets light and dark at the same time every day of the year.
Answer for Ages 6+: About 70 out of the 159 countries around the world follow Daylight Saving Time – that’s less than half! Many countries don’t follow Daylight Saving Time because the Earth spins on an axis or kind of tilted to one side. A lot of countries near the equator, or the middle of the planet, don’t change their clocks because the same amount of sunlight shines on them year-round. Countries located further from the equator, or the top and bottom of the planet, follow Daylight Saving Time because the amount of sun that shines on them changes throughout the year. In countries that don’t follow Daylight Saving Time, it typically gets light and dark at the same time every day of the year.
Extra Learning: For a bonus discussion, explain that groups of people in some states and countries want to get rid of Daylight Saving Time. They think it will be easier and less confusing if the sun rises and sets at the same time every day of the year. This would mean that it wouldn’t get so dark in the fall and winter, but it wouldn’t say light out for a long in the spring and summer. Ask your kids what they think about Daylight Saving Time. Do they think we should keep it or eliminate it?!
From bubbly cauldrons to creepy crawlers, science is all around us during the Halloween season. At KiwiCo, we love turning fun crafts into engaging experiments. Try out these activities with your kids and help them see that science happens every day!
Get one last use out of all your jack o’ lanterns before you throw them away! This leaky pumpkin foams up all over the place because of a special organism called yeast. You can teach your little chemists how to turn yeast into oozy foam with this simple experiment.
The product designers at KiwiCo love launchers because they’re a super fun way to play with physics! With this project, your kids can turn a few rubber bands into a stretchy web that launches spiders across the room. While they make their launchers, you can talk to your kids about potential and kinetic energy!
Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab and have your mad scientists create their own bubbling brew that blows up a balloon! As Count Dracula rises from the dead, you can explain the science happening in his head.
This is a simple project that can consume hours! You can turn it into an anatomical learning lesson by looking at different kinds of skeletons beforehand. Challenge your child to create a unique skeleton by combining different types of bones!
Like many events in 2020, Halloween is shaping up to look different than years past. But no matter the fate of trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, you can still make for a very happy Halloween at home! For more awesome activities and DIY decorations, check out our blog post here: Make Halloween at Home Fun with DIY Crafts & Experiments
Socialization: Some of us miss it, some of us don’t, but regardless of how we feel, our kids need it. When the pandemic put playdates on hold, many parents thought it would be temporary. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for many families.
“Well, it’s been five, six months and it’s going to be, I hate to say it, at least another six months, a year, a year and a half. That’s too much time for our children to not be around other children in a real and physical way,” Dr. Dimitri Christakis tells us.
According to KiwiCo’s child development expert and pediatrician Dr. D (Dimitri Christakis), playdates during the pandemic are a must. But there are a lot of questions that come into play with safe socialization. So our Director of Brand (and mom of a toddler), Clara, turned to Dr. D for answers. If you don’t know Dr. D, you can learn more about him here before diving in.
Many parents in the KiwiCo community want to know if their children are missing out on key socialization opportunities because of the school and daycare closures. Is this the case?
School is incredibly important for cognitive development. But it’s incredibly important to social-emotional learning – across the entire age spectrum. We’re very social creatures. We need to be around other humans. Our older children clearly can get some connection with their friends over social media and Zoom. But I want to emphasize, it’s even more important for young children who cannot get the same, cannot get any of that mediated through a screen. They still need to see their friends and we need to find ways for them to do that safely.
So how can parents go about planning playdates during the pandemic?
The first thing you want to do is limit the number of friends that they’re around. Ideally, these are kids who you know, whose parents you know and trust to be as responsible as you are. They’re also being careful about who their kids are exposed to. They’re wearing masks when they go out. They’re washing their hands when they come home – all of those things.
Then find ways for your kids to get together with them. If they can be socially distanced, that’s obviously ideal. If they can wear masks, that’s ideal. If they can be outside, that’s ideal. Take full advantage of the opportunities that the weather allows you to get your kids together outside. As the weather changes and they have to come inside, again, it’s best to practice those mitigation strategies.
I have a two-year-old. I would love to ask, what about socialization for babies and toddlers?
For very young babies, thankfully, during this time, really all they need is parental love. You’re the most important thing in their lives. Up until the age of six months, they’re delighted to just be around you. I think starting from six months and up, they do start to benefit from being around other children. Play is really children’s work. It’s how they develop their minds. It’s how they develop their social skills. It’s how they learn to share. It’s how they learn to negotiate. It’s how they learn empathy. All of those things are incredibly important.
If you have a six-month-old, you’ve already noticed that they’re fascinated by other babies. They already recognize them as something that’s like them. They want to interact with them. They want to be near them. You have to allow them that opportunity. It’s important to find ways for your children to do that safely. Make a point of them washing their hands as frequently as possible. Point out social distancing when you do it.
For a two-year-old, they can wear a mask maybe if they’re able to. If they’re not able to, that’s okay. I think we should be socializing our children to wear masks. One of the most important things you can do to get your child ready for school is to practice the things at home that you want them to do at school or other social situations. So make a point of them wearing masks every time they go out. Let them choose a mask that they like that has special value for them, so it’s a prized possession and they’re happier to wear it.
Will masks impact children’s ability to develop social skills like the interpretation of emotional cues?
The truth is a lot we don’t know about this pandemic. That’s one of them. We don’t have much data on children wearing masks or being around people that wear masks all the time, but I do think it’s really beneficial, at least from a theoretical perspective, for children to see faces and have an opportunity to read emotions. That’s where social distancing becomes important. That’s where people that are in your pod become even more important since they’re around them without masks on.
How can parents help their babies and children read the emotions behind face masks?
It’s really an interesting test because the entire face is very expressive and there are a lot of cultures as people know that cover everything but the eyes. In Islamic countries, for example, some women cover everything but their eyes. The eyes actually convey a fair amount of emotion. In most western countries, we tend to look at the entire face. In fact, we rely much more on the mouth than we do on the eyes. All of it is very expressive. It’s not enough they see this on screens. They do need to see it in three dimensions and with real people. I think you should make sure they have such opportunities and that they will.
One parent told us that their child freezes when someone unknown is near. How can we help kids who are developing a fear of strangers or people getting too close?
It’s a really good question. Many children are having increased anxiety in particular around strangers. I think like any anxiety, it’s important that you recognize it, that you validate it, that you understand it, and that you help your child get through it. The best way to get through it, like with any phobia, is exposure.
How do you do that? Well, you can’t expose your child to strangers that they don’t know and you don’t know. But there are also people that you know and they don’t. In that scenario, you can make a point of introducing them in a way that you feel is safe. Over time, they can slowly get over the anxiety of meeting strangers.
All of this will pass. I don’t want people to be so panicked to think that their child is going to be irrevocably harmed by the situation we’re finding ourselves in. We’ll get through this together. Our children will be fine. I do think though, that we should do everything we can to help them – to nurture them, to support them, and to support ourselves. I think it’s incredibly important that we have grace with each other, grace with our children, and grace with ourselves. Forgive yourself. It’s a very, very difficult time to be a parent.
To help parents with kids of all ages get the answers they need, we asked Dr. D to talk about all things COVID-19. From stress to education and future implications, he shared detailed evidence-based research and advice in response to questions from parents in our KiwiCo Community. Now, we’re sharing everything Dr. D had to say with you! Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get all his advice in your inbox. If you have questions you want answered, follow us on Instagram @kiwico_inc and send them our way!
Since there isn’t an instruction manual for parenting, sometimes we have to turn to experts for answers. And when it comes to childhood development, Dr. Dimitri Christakis is kind of like a walking how-to guide.
Dr. Christakis, or Dr. D for short, is a pediatrician, epidemiologist and child development expert at the University of Washington. He’s also the director of the Center for Child Health Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
Some KiwiCo subscribers may recognize Dr. D from the pages of the Panda Crate Wonder Magazine where he dishes out advice to new parents. KiwiCo works with Dr. D and his team at the Christakis Laboratory to make sure the products and content in Panda crates are rooted in evidence-based research. And what makes Dr. D especially suited for this partnership is the fact that he’s a parent himself.
“What I wish I had is exactly what Panda Crate is”, Dr D says. “A box that gives you hands-on materials to play with your children in an engaging, developmentally appropriate way, and evidence-based answers to questions that you might have.”
And we know all too well parenting comes with an endless amount of questions. This year, the questions continue to pile up. Families across the world have faced a multitude of challenges since the rise of COVID-19, and the impact has been felt by both parents and children.
“We’re seeing an increase in anxiety and depression in older children and a fair amount of fear and concern in younger children. Every child, of course, is different, but I think the first thing that a parent should do is meet your child where they are,” Dr. D tells us.
To help parents with kids of all ages get the answers they need, we (virtually) sat down with Dr. D to talk about all things COVID-19. From socialization to education and future implications, he shared detailed evidence-based research and advice in response to questions from parents in our KiwiCo Community. Now, we’re sharing everything Dr. D had to say with you! Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get all his advice in your inbox. If you have questions you want answered, follow us on Instagram @kiwico_inc and send them our way!
KiwiCo is nine years old! The company has come a long way since the humble beginnings in our founder and CEO’s garage. Today, KiwiCo is delivered to doorsteps around the world! And each dropoff is jam-packed with hands-on projects, activities, and content so kids can learn as they do. That’s in part thanks to our brilliant team of product designers. Collectively, they’ve helped design more than 1,500 KiwiCo projects. To mark this milestone, we want to introduce you to some of our product designers and give you an inside look at how they deliver a sense of wonder in everything they create!
We all want our kids’ birthdays to be magical and memorable, but let’s face it, planning a party for your child can sometimes be a bit of a struggle. There’s the sending of invitations, collecting supplies, searching for fun activities, and do we even have to mention the making of goodie bags? Oof. Well, some parents in our KiwiCo Community have shared how they managed to combine all their birthday party needs in one place — or rather, one crate!
Step 1: Pick the Perfect Party Project or Crate
The KiwiCo Store has STEAM projects to ignite amazing hands-on fun for kids of all ages! Take a spin with your little one to see what kind of project or crate catches their eye. Art? Engineering? Chemistry? We’ve got something for every kind of innovator. At the KiwiCo Store, not only can you pick your crate’s theme, but you can also order multiples of the same item so your guests can discover and explore together. You can either order them to your house for an in-person party or send them to your guests for a virtual celebration!
While sheltering in place, one mom reached out to the KiwiCo customer care team to ask about a bulk order for her son’s virtual 7th birthday party. She ended up sending an Atlas Crate to each of her son’s friends, so they could do an activity together, while apart!
Step 2: Attach an Invite & Send to Friends
For Landry’s 2nd birthday, their grownups attached party invitations directly to the Koala Crate projects they ordered! We loved this personalized twist to make these party packages even more special, but if you’re looking for a lower lift, you can always send a classic email invitation and let your guests know that a KiwiCo surprise awaits their arrival.
Step 3: Celebrate & Create!
Whether you’re throwing an in-person party, putting together a virtual affair, or a little bit of both, KiwiCo gives all guests near and far a way to explore hands-on creativity together!
Fall is the season of pumpkin spice and cozy nights, but it’s also the season of science! From chlorophyll to chemical reactions, the wonder of the world is unfolding all around us. KiwiCo founder and CEO, Sandra, walked through her favorite fall experiments live on KTLA, so now we’re sharing them with you! Try out one, two, or all of these projects with your kids to celebrate the season with science.
Fall is full of color, and this experiment helps bottle it up! Leaves are full of chlorophyll which works to convert the energy of the sun into food for the plant. Chlorophyll also makes leaves appear green. In the fall the chlorophyll in leaves starts to break down and their green hue changes to yellow, orange, or red. By boiling leaves and submerging them in alcohol, you can separate the colors and capture a fall-themed rainbow in liquid form. You can start this project with a nature walk with your kids to collect colorful leaves!
With every leaf that falls, a different experiment awaits! Similar to humans and animals, leaves are made up of a system of veins that transport food and water to its cells. When leaves hit the ground, the decomposition process starts. You can speed up and simulate this process at home to reveal a series of skeletons! While you do this simple science experiment, you can talk to your kids about the anatomy of a leaf and its similarities to our own vein systems!
This experiment makes for a super sensory experience! Surprisingly, no apples are actually needed for this project. Instead, tour kids will make their own “apples” with baking soda, soap, and water. Then, you just have to add vinegar to create an explosion of fizzy bubbles! While you do this project, talk to your kids about the causes of this chemical reaction.
If you have an apple orchard nearby, kick this project off with a field trip! When apples are cut, an enzyme (polyphenol oxidase), that reacts with oxygen, is released–causing the apple slices to turn brown. In this experiment, you and your kids are going to test out different liquids to see which one keeps the apple slices from browning. If you have an apple orchard nearby, you can kick this project off with a field trip!
Like lemons, pumpkins have acidic juices that help transport electrical energy! Put your pumpkin’s power to the test by combining copper, zinc, and electrical wire. The flow of electrical energy starts by dissolving charged ions of zinc off of the zinc metal. The zinc ions leave behind extra electrons in the zinc metal which travel over to the copper through the wire. That movement of electrons creates electricity!
Like many events in 2020, Halloween is shaping up to look different than years past. But no matter the fate of trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, you can make for a very happy Halloween at home! We collected some awesome activities to get your kids into the spooky spirit.
Take your pumpkin game to a new level this year with this creepy chemical reaction! The leaky pumpkin foams up all over the place because of yeast. Yes, the same fungus that’s normally used to make bread rise! You can learn more about the science behind the reaction as you try it out.
If you want more chemistry this Halloween, mix up some citric acid, baking soda, and water to create a bubbling brew that blows up a balloon! Acids (like citric acid) and bases (like baking soda) do something special when they’re combined in water. In water, their molecules (the smallest piece of a substance) are free to float around and react with each other. This chemical reaction creates something completely new and gas is released into the balloon!
This project is a perfect way to combine science and art! Your kids can create their own pipe cleaner crystals using borax and water. We recommend doing this experiment in late-September or early-October, so your kids can watch their crystals grow in the weeks leading up to Halloween!
At KiwiCo, we love launchers because they’re a super fun way to play with physics! With this project, your kids can turn a few rubber bands into a stretchy web that launches spiders across the room. While they make their launchers, you can talk to your kids about the difference between potential and kinetic energy!
This may not seem like a science project at first glance, but you can easily turn this craft into a hands-on lesson about the science behind mummification. You can get even more use out of your kid’s mummy by starting a new at-home Halloween tradition! While your kids are sleeping, move the mummy into a different spot in the house just like the holiday tradition of Elf on the Shelf.
These cute little mummies are the perfect craft for preschoolers. It’s simple and my kids loved adding the googly eyes. If you pick a scented soap, you can actually have your home smell extra yummy too!
Whether it’s during meal prep, service, or clean-up, we spend a lot of time during the day in the kitchen. So to help bring more learning into the room where it happens, we collected some of our favorite kitchen science activities! As a bonus, with these projects, your kids can actually eat what they create (but we don’t recommend replacing meals entirely)!
Is a square egg possible? Not in nature – but you can re-shape a hard-boiled egg in just a few easy steps. Use this experiment for a hands-on lesson in molecular chemistry! This project is great for kids ages 5-16.
Did you know the science of color is also known as chromatics or colorimetry? While some people wouldn’t pair color with science, experiments on the topic have been unfolding for centuries! Learn more about the science behind color mixing while making edible paints. This project is best for ages 4-11, but it can be fun for all ages.
Have you ever noticed that if you slice an apple in the morning, it turns brown by lunch? This is actually a chemical reaction at work! In this experiment, you’ll learn more about how the oxygen in the air around us causes this reaction (also known as oxidation). Spare some slices for this science experiment, and eat the rest! This project is best for kids ages 3-8.
Today almost one-third of the energy we produce in the U.S. comes from oil, and we use it daily — for transportation, to create electricity that powers our houses, schools, offices, and stores, and to run industrial factories. But we only have a limited amount of crude oil on Earth! One healthier alternative to burning crude oil is burning vegetable oil! Show your kid about the power of plant energy with this easy experiment! This project is great for kids ages 5-16.
Whether it’s between learning from home lessons or during homework time after hours, your child’s brain needs a break! Short, physical activities throughout the day can help improve your student’s attention, mood, and creativity. These brain breaks get blood and oxygen flowing through the body and to the brain, calming the nervous system and decreasing stress. It’s a win/win for everyone (that includes you too, grownups)!
Experts recommend brain breaks every 30 minutes if possible. To help kickstart your brain break collection, we reached out to some of our favorite teachers for suggestions!
Tabata is one of our favorite workouts at KiwiCo, so when elementary school teacher Kim Eagleson shared the Avengers Kids Tabata Workout with us, we knew we had to add it to the list! A Tabata workout requires 20 seconds of all-out intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This four-minute version is perfect for a brain break. You can also try the Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Black Panther, or other Get Kids Moving workouts!
Screen-Free Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts get kids moving while also encouraging curiosity and problem-solving. These Active At-Home Scavenger Hunts put a creative spin on a classic game. This is also an activity that can be done with friends and family over Zoom!
Little Language Lessons
High school Spanish teacher, Andrea Ruiz, gives her students’ brains a break by taking a tour of the world. You can do the same by learning languages at home! These printable flashcards and activities from Mr. Printable will help give your child a much-needed screen time break. If you want to get your child’s tiny fingers moving, try practicing sign language with help from Start ASL!
We’re huge fans of GoNoodle at KiwiCo! Banana Banana Meatball is a go-to favorite brain break for high school special education teacher Andrew Boven. It’ll have your kids singing and laughing. GoNoodle is home to 300+ videos that feature kids songs, dance, yoga, mindfulness, stretching, and more! Make a list of your favorite videos and try a new one every day.
If you haven’t given in to the TikTok temptation yet, now may be a good time (it’s for the kids after all). Learning a choreographed dance is a fun creative challenge that the whole family can take on. You can start small by learning from the pint-sized professionals at Kidz Bop. They also have a live daily dance break at 3 pm EST/12 pm PST!
Yoga & Meditation Moments
Yoga can be a fun way to reduce stress and anxiety while also building strength and coordination. If you’re looking for a screen-free brain break, check out Sanford Health’s free printable yoga cards. Another teacher favorite is Cosmic Yoga which will give your kid a dose of “healthy screen time”. They have hundreds of videos with different themes for learning and practicing new poses. If you want more moments like this in your house, also try out a few of the ideas we compiled in our post: Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Parents.
If you’re looking for more screen-free activities, check out the KiwiCo Store! We have a bunch of hands-on projects that your child can take on independently or with a little grownup help. Kiwi projects come with multiple activities that you can spread out and use for brain breaks all week long!