Kid Crafts with Kiwi Crate

Kid Crafts with Kiwi Crate-perfect for busy moms!

Disclosure: I received this product for free. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are honest and I was not required to post a positive review.

What is Kiwi Crate?

Kiwi Crate is a monthly kid crafts subscription. They deliver hands-on fun right to your mailbox. Designed for ages 3-8, projects can include arts and crafts, science activities, imaginative play, and more. Everything for 2-3 projects is included in the crate, and there are a variety of Kiwi Crate themes to choose from.

Opening our Kiwi Crate Box

Our Kiwi Crate Experience

We received the “Around the World” Kiwi Crate. (I can’t find a direct link for you on their site since their available themes rotate.) The kids were so excited to get a package just for them and immediately wanted to open it.

Around the World Kiwi Crate

The main craft was a World Flag Banner and the main game was a World Map Game. We chose to make the flag banner on the back porch during a cool morning and waited to play the map game later that evening with daddy.The kids followed the directions for making the flag banner (written and picture directions) without much assistance from me.

Kiwi Crate World Flag Banner Craft

The flag banner was cute and we will hang it in our homeschool room above our world map. We looked at our map to find all the countries represented in our banner. Kiwi Crate Flag Craft

The World Map Game was a great introduction to continents and famous landmarks with a bingo twist. It was perfect for a family game night after dinner! The game was easy enough for our youngest to participate thanks to the color-coded cards, but it was still educational for our oldest who is reading well. He was able to read the quick facts about the landmarks for us. And yes, Asher is walking around saying “Machu Pichu” now. What 2 year old does that?

Kiwi Crate World Map Game

What I Thought of Kiwi Crate

As a naturally crafty mom, I was a bit skeptical of a kid crafts subscription. I wondered if it would be something I could’ve come up with on my own using materials I already had at home. However, Kiwi Crate totally knocked my socks off. Yes, I could’ve made up the craft with materials we already had, but the Kiwi Crate was so much more than just a craft. Our particular Kiwi Crate came with a craft, a game, and an activity book/magazine for further learning exploration, craft ideas, and games.

Kiwi Crate Activities Collage

With three kids, homeschool, extracurricular activities, and just an overall crazy schedule, I appreciated the time Kiwi Crate gave back to me. All I had to do was open the box for the kids and interact. I didn’t have to come up with an idea. I didn’t have to gather or prepare materials. (Let’s face it, that is half the battle!) Kiwi Crate was truly open and go. I was glad to put the time saved in gathering materials to use in other important areas, like prepping dinner.

On a personal note, I haven’t had the time or the energy during the adoption attachment period to put together things like this, so I was excited to have an activity for the kids to do that didn’t require much of me. I’m stretched too thin right now and Kiwi Crate was a lifesaver this month!

Some things I was really impressed with about Kiwi Crate

They thought of everything. Seriously. I was so impressed with everything: peel-and-stick felt, providing scissors, and even a special sticker to wrap around the end of the rope to make threading the rope through the flags easier.

Kiwi Crate thinks of everything!

The activities were fun, engaging, and educational. You know how much that impresses this homeschool momma!

The packaging. Y’all, their packaging is so cute and creative! For example, you can even cut the box down and use it for play with the puppets printed on the packaging. They really pack a lot of fun into one little green box!

Kiwi Crate packaging is even designed for kid crafts and activities

Some things I wish were a little different about Kiwi Crate

We had one meltdown over who was going to make a particular flag and I immediately wished we had more materials so the kids could each make their own flag buntings. After looking on the Kiwi Crate website, I found out there is an option to add-on a sibling set of materials for an extra fee. I am glad for that option, although I probably wouldn’t spend an extra $10 on that option just to avoid a tantrum driven by selfishness.

I loved the clever world map game and wanted to use it over and over. I wish the game pieces were made of cardstock or thicker paper. The game cards were very thin and wouldn’t handle a lot of wear and tear from children. I will laminate these to use in the future and modify the game pieces if needed.

What My Kids Thought of Kiwi Crate

Ultimately, the kids’ opinions are what counts here since it was for them. I asked my kids to talk to me about Kiwi Crate.

What was your favorite thing about Kiwi Crate?
Jonah (7): I liked all of the activities. I can’t pick a favorite!
Lily (5): I liked making the flags.
Asher (a week from 3): I like making da fwags, Momma.

What didn’t you like about Kiwi Crate?
Jonah (7): I had to share it with the others.
Lily (5): I looooved everything! (insert dramatics and jazz hands here)
Asher (a week from 3): Huh? What momma?

Would you like to get another Kiwi Crate?
Jonah (7): YES! Can I have my own this time?
Lily (5): YES! Do they have a princess one?
Asher (a week from 3): YES! Again!

Is a Kiwi Crate Subscription worth it?

Is a Kiwi Crate Subscription Worth It?

I think Kiwi Crate is worth it. I really surprised myself with that statement since I’m such a DIY and frugal girl, but I think boxed craft/activity sets can be beneficial, too. Kiwi Crate is perfect for busy moms or moms that feel planning kid crafts is not their strength. The activities were top-notch and fun for my three kids. I think Kiwi Crate would make a perfect gift! If you like to give “experience gifts” instead of toys, Kiwi Crate would be a hit!

Want to try them yourself?

Use code BTS25 for 25% off 1st month subscription to Kiwi Crate. New subscribers also receive free shipping PLUS a bonus welcome kit.

Kiwi Crate is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+. Be sure to follow them! They share great kid crafts ideas on their social media accounts and their newsletter.

Caterpillar/Butterfly Finger Puppets {Flip Dolls Pattern Hop & Giveaway}

I first “met” Laura while I was pregnant with Asher. If you were a reader during that time, you’ll remember I was SO sick with Hyperemesis Gravidarum and the entire house was a little down in the dumps. During that time, Laura sent us a package with hand-drawn artwork from her daughter and a homemade crown for Jonah. It was a slice of sunshine during a rather rough time in our lives and we were touched by her kindness.

homemade crown

While the crown was a nice surprise, I was also drawn to Laura’s fabulously creative blog. She comes up with some of the most clever patterns that just beg to be replicated.

And then she gathered all of those clever projects into a book! A real book! It’s the most delightful thing to flip through.

When Flip Dolls & Other Toys That Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab & Go arrived on my doorstep, my boys piled up on my lap. As we flipped through every page, they made a list of sewing projects for me….pretty much every project from the book!

Flip Dolls Pattern Hop & Giveaway

Laura asked if I’d join in the Flip Dolls Pattern Hop and I couldn’t resist! I knew immediately I wanted to master the art of flip dolls, but honestly, the flip dolls intimidated me a little. I decided to start small.

Caterpillar/Butterfly Flip Doll

Caterpillar Flip Doll finger puppet reversible finger puppet

For my first attempt at flip dolls, I chose the Caterpillar/Butterfly pattern. With adorable pom-pom trim for the legs and a simple handstitched smile, I’m somewhat smitten.

Tucked inside, there is a small surprise…

Caterpillar Butterfly Reversible Finger Puppets Flip Doll

An adorable butterfly–perfect for little ones to use as a finger puppet!

Butterfly flip doll finger puppet

I’ll be honest, the butterfly pictured in this post was my second attempt. It took me a little while to picture how things were supposed to work and I was a little too sloppy on my 1/4 inch seams. It made for a tight squeeze! Another thing that I think contributed to the tight fight inside was that I added another layer of felt on the underside of the wings to hide my stitches from the wing details.

After completing the Caterpillar & Butterfly flip doll, I immediately started on another!

Flip Dolls & Other Toys that Zip, Stack,  Hide, Grab and Go Review and Giveaway. These adorable dolls are reversible and can be used as puppets!

Giveaway

Would you like to win your own book and give sewing flip dolls a try? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Then, visit the first 5 links in the blog hop below for more chances to win!

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Have you made a Flip Doll? Use the linkup below to show off your creations! The first five links are part of the Flip Dolls Pattern Hop and each have book giveaways! Visit them for more chances to win!

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BionicBlox–An Engineering Toy for Open-Ended Play

Bionic Blox an engineering toy for open-ended play

Disclosure: I received this product for free to review. I was compensated for my time in reviewing the product and writing our experience. All opinions are my own and honest; a positive review was not required. No affiliate links are present.

As a former early childhood educator turned homeschool mom, I’m always on the look out for quality educational toys. We were recently introduced to BionicBlox and the boys have played with them every day since they arrived. It’s been a great open-ended play activity to add to our toy rotation and this review fits in perfectly with our current blog series, 31 Days of Open-ended Play.

BionicBlox an engineering toy for open-ended play

Benefits of Playing With BionicBlox

  • Encourages critical thinking skills related to geometry, spatial recognition, engineering, architecture, and more.
  • Independent building–Jonah has a hard time when building with Legos and always wants an adult to help. It is nice because he can do these himself if I need him to entertain himself.
  • Encourages creativity
  • Strengthens Fine Motor Skills

BionicBlox an engineering toy for open-ended play

What I Love About BionicBlox

  • Sturdy & Durable–With a house of boys, that is important! My kids are rough on toys–these blocks passed the test!
  • Sanded Smooth Blocks & Larger Pieces–No worry of splinters or sharp edges. In my opinion, the blocks are large and do not pose a choking hazard.
  • Tight Fitting Connectors–Projects won’t fall apart easily and cause frustration in my boy that is easily frustrated.
  • Made in the USA–Love things made in my own backyard and putting money into our own economy!
  • Endless Possibilities–I love that this is an open-ended toy and gives kids the freedom to create and learn through play.

Watch our video review for a good laugh and to see the cuteness that is Jonah unscripted.

Details about BionicBlox

BionicBlox come in a variety of sets, so you can pick and choose the amount that you need for your favorite little builder. For reference, the set used in the pictures in this post are the 100 Piece Visionary Set which includes 75 Wooden Foundation Beams and 26 BionicStar Connectors in a reusable tote bag.

BionicBlox an engineering toy for open-ended play

Interestingly, you can purchase just the BionicStar Connectors which are compatible with KAPLA Blocks, CITIBLOCS, or KEVA by Mindware. Great news if you already have some of these!

BionicBlox an engineering toy for open-ended play

Connect With BionicBlox

Want to add these to your educational toy rotation? Go to BionicBlox and use the code HOMESCHOOL10 to receive 10% off your purchase. (Coupon Code expires November 10, 2013) These would make a great Christmas gift! ;)

This post is a part of the series, 31 Days of Open-Ended Play. Be sure to read all the posts in the series for more great ideas for encouraging learning and creativity through open-ended play.

31 Days of Open-Ended Play

10 Favorite Toys for Fine Motor Skills

10 Favorite Toys for Fine Motor Skills


While I try to set up frugal  fine motor skills activities from common household items as often as I can, there are times that we purchase items, receive them as gifts, or even dig them out of our own childhood closets for fine motor fun. I thought I’d share some of our favorites with you!


The Lauri Toys Primer Pack is one of my favorites because it comes with several activities in one box that can be used in a variety of ways. Lauri Toys are some of my favorites. They are made of soft rubber so they don’t make noise and you can request replacement pieces if you lose a piece.


The Alex Toys Learn to Dress Monkey has eleven self dressing activities on the stuffed animal. Kids will learn to snap, sip, button, tie, and more~all skills they need for the rest of their life.


We love the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board! Curious fingers love to explore the latches, locks, and clasps to see the hidden surprise.


The Etch A Sketch is a classic, but it really does promote fine motor movements! Kids are drawn to the “magical” pictures that appear and manipulating the knobs.


Mr. Potato Head is out often at our house. We have a tub full of Disney character pieces we purchased on a trip to Disney a few years ago and they still make a weekly appearance on Jonah’s bedroom floor. Kids love to make up silly characters, but what I love about Mr. Potato Head is the open-ended play and fine motor skills it encourages.


Ker Plunk makes Jonah sit on the edge of his seat in anticipation for the marbles to drop and then startles him when they finally do. It keeps us laughing as we give our fingers a workout.


When I was a little girl, Perfection would make me so mad because I could never beat the timer, but then I became a grown-up with a small obsession with fine motor skills and my attitude changed. We found Daddy’s old game at his grandmother’s house and let Jonah play a modified version. He places the shapes in the holes and then sets the timer to watch them pop out as a reward when he’s finished. He thinks it is hilarious. Try it with your preschooler and see what they think!


We play Ants in the Pants often around here, too. Sometimes Jonah likes to just play with the ants and see how far he can make them jump. Maybe another reason he likes this game so much is because he beats me every single time.


Little Asher can often be found exploring the Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube. While he can’t match up the shapes on his own yet, he loves for me to show him where to place them and then claps every time.


Jonah received a set of LEGO Ultimate Building Set for his birthday and now he’s got Lego Fever. I’ve joined the ranks of moms who are diligently checking the floor for lost pieces and praying the toddler doesn’t find them first. There is no denying it–legos are perfect for fine motor skills!

What would be on your list?

This post is a part of the 10 day series, Developing Fine Motor Skills. This series is part of the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. To see the list of the topics from the other bloggers, visit iHomeschool Network. There are some fantastic topics and giveaways!

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Samuel L Collins DVD {Review & Giveaway}

If you’ve been around Happy Brown House very long, it is probably no surprise that we are very discerning about the media we let into our home. We preview everything before letting Jonah watch, including movies we might have seen prior to parenthood. While that may sound a little overbearing to some, we are serious about guarding his mind, eyes, and ears from things not appropriate for little guys. We believe that part of our job as parents is to be the diligent gatekeeper from the things of this world while they are still young. By the way, it never fails, the times that we’ve been lax about this have been the times that we have had to stop a movie for one reason or another.

At times, this has proven to be very frustrating for us as parents. It seems like everyone has an agenda and little things get slipped in even though they might be geared for the younger crowd…I’m sure you probably know what I’m talking about.

Imagine my excitement when I found the Samuel L. Collins and the Search for Biblical Truths DVD series, full of adventure and God’s Word!

Samuel L Collins booth

I first heard about Samuel L. Collins when I was at the Teach Them Diligently Convention. After talking with Kristi (Samuel’s mom and supporting actress), I just knew my little guy would be interested in the DVD series. Jonah often pretends to be a secret agent/spy, so I knew this would be right up his alley.

What is it?

Samuel L. Collins and the Search for Biblical Truths is a DVD series designed for children ages 6-12. In each episode, you follow Samuel and his family around the globe. He learns a different Christian principle based upon his Bible verse for the day. We got to review the Samuel L. Collins Singapore Adventure. This adventure focuses on integrity. In the DVD, Samuel finds some money a woman drops and he is faced with the dilemma of what to do with the money. Should he keep it? Should he give it back?

Review

Jonah thoroughly enjoyed the DVD. While he is a little younger than the suggested age of 6, he is one smart cookie. He followed the storyline and could answer questions easily about what happened. Jonah liked the intro music and danced to it in his goofy four-year-old way. As he watched, he provided commentary about Samuel’s dilemma. When Samuel asked what he should do, Jonah spoke to the TV and told Samuel he should give it back. A day or two later, he referenced Samuel L. Collins in conversation and pretended that he was on an adventure like Samuel, too…complete with binoculars and spy watch.

spy JonahAll in all, I was pleased with this DVD series. It appealed to my little guy’s sense of adventure and gave us an opportunity to discuss a real-life dilemma of what to do when we find money. We talked about integrity and the Bible verses Samuel L. Collins uses to guide him in his adventure.

I think it speaks volumes that Jonah was pretending he was Samuel L. Collins. Honestly, I’m pretty excited that he was. What a great role model! The DVD shows Samuel L. Collins spending time reading his Bible, praying, and acting with integrity.

The DVD is interactive. There are cipher codes to help Samuel figure out. There are instructions on geocaching to go on your own treasure hunting adventure as a family.

Giveaway

Samuel L. Collins wants to take one of you on an adventure, too! You can enter below to win a Samuel L. Collins Singapore DVD.

Note: I’m trying out a new way to run giveaways using the Rafflecopter widget below. I’d love your feedback on it. I think it should make things easier, but let me know if you have any trouble with it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a free DVD for the purpose of an honest review. I received no other compensation from this post. I only promote products I believe in and believe in blogging with integrity.

An “I Love You” Prayer Review {Giveaway}

We got a belated Valentine in the mail from Tommy Nelson and I’m so glad we did!

An “I Love You” Prayer is the second book in the Time to Pray series by Amy Parker. It is a sweet book with charming illustrations! The board book is shaped like a heart. (I kinda love that…it’s the little things, I tell ya!) The rhyming text is sweet and says a thank you to God for the many ways He shows us His love–a rainbow, homes, fields to explore, etc. (You can take a sneak peak at the book here!)

Our thoughts:

Jonah loved it! We’ve read it over and over, as we do with most of our Tommy Nelson books. We give this one two thumbs up! Jonah’s favorite character in the book is the dog. :)

An Extension:

As we were reading An “I Love You” Prayer, I asked Jonah what he would thank God for. He was precious…and came up with some hilarious things, too! He started listing a long list of people in our lives. Which got me thinking, we should tell these people that we are thinking about them and thankful for them!

So, we rolled up our sleeves…er, Jonah took off his shirt…and we got to work making something special to send to loved ones.

First, we got a red piece of paper. I took a recycled toilet paper and bent it so it would be the shape of a heart. Then, Jonah dipped it in the white paint and stamped hearts all over his paper. After it was dry, we used it to make a card to send in the mail…complete with a hug! (Two handprints on the end of a piece of ribbon~Easy Peasy!)

Would you like to win An “I Love You” Prayer?

Tommy Nelson want to give one to a lucky reader!

To enter: Leave a comment sharing how your kids (or you) would fill in the blank

“God’s love is like ____.”

For an extra entry: Tweet or Share on Facebook using the share buttons below. (Leave a separate comment for each entry)

Giveaway will end Sunday, March 4th at midnight. U.S. residents only, please.

Disclosure: All thoughts from this review are my own. I received a free product in exchange for an honest review, but that did not influence my review. I genuinely like it!

The Mighty Macs {Review}

I had the opportunity to watch an advanced screening of  The Mighty Macs this week {from the comfort of my own couch while nursing the babe during a marathon cluster feeding, I might add}. I was really excited to have the chance to preview The Mighty Macs because we had seen the movie trailer a while ago, and like all good movie trailers, it went on my list of movies to see. The Mighty Macs did not disappoint~it totally lived up to the trailer.

Here’s the trailer in case you’ve not seen it (email subscribers will have to click over to view it)

About the movie:

It’s 1971. Cathy Rush is a woman ahead of her time … and she’s about to embark on an adventure for the ages. A new era is dawning in the country and in collegiate athletics, where a national champion will be crowned for the first time in women’s basketball. In the lead up to this historical season, major universities are preparing their game plans to win that first title. Meanwhile a tiny all-women’s Catholic college in Philadelphia has a more modest goal: find a coach before the season begins. Providentially, Cathy Rush is about to find Immaculata College. Recently married, Cathy is dealing with the aftermath of a truncated playing career. While cultural norms would have her staying at home, she’s willing to do the hard work necessary to help her new team reach their goals—or perhaps she’s just trying to achieve her unfulfilled dreams through them. From the beginning, her challenges are as imposing as the big-school teams Immaculata will face on the court. Cathy learns there is no gymnasium on campus, she receives little support from the school’s Mother Superior, and the school is in dire financial straits. To top it off, she may not even have enough players to field a team! While it appears the Macs don’t have a prayer, all hope is not lost. With the help of Sister Sunday—a spunky assistant coach—and the support of a booster club of elderly nuns, Coach Rush creates a new game plan that just might bring the team—and the school—together. Will this pioneer buck cultural norms and spur her rag-tag team to unexpected heights? Or will her hard-driving ways create a wedge between the coach and everyone around her? One thing’s for certain: there’s never been anyone like Cathy Rush at Immaculata!

My Thoughts:

The Mighty Macs is a “feel good” movie that I would place in the same movie genre as Hoosiers or Rudy, only with a girl perspective. (That’s not to say it is overly “girly”, just girl characters with some women’s lib thrown in.) It’s a story of underdogs digging in, beating the pants off of the expectations placed on them and reaching for their dreams. It’s a true story that I think will inspire girls everywhere. I hadn’t heard the story before now, but was so excited to see how this story had impacted women’s sports. I loved the balance of the basketball scenes with the focus on the stories of each character. The movie was very clean and I found it safe for most of the whole family (although I really don’t think it would interest Jonah our 4 year old). The only scene I thought was unnecessary was after winning a game the coach and the nun assistant coach go into a bar and ask for “the coldest thing on tap” and a man hits on the nun (she had her head covering off and a coat over her outfit). It was a fairly mild scene (he asked her to dance), but I feel the need to tell you about it~it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me though. I did, however, think the lines of the nun during this scene were hilarious. (Does that make sense, the lines were cute, but the context was silly~a nun in a bar? Really?) Overall, I’d give it two thumbs-up and will watch it again.

If you’d like to find out more information you can visit The Mighty Macs: Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Channel

Also if you’d like to see The Mighty Macs content grade/review from the Dove Foundation you can view it here. (Scroll down and you’ll see the breakdown of things that you might be concerned about like sex, language, violence, drugs, nudity, etc.)

The Mighty Macs opens in theaters today!

Disclosure: I was provided the opportunity to view The Mighty Macs for free. All opinions are mine. I blog with integrity. :)