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Can’t travel? Visit a new country with Atlas Crates

Can’t travel? Visit a new country with Atlas Crates

I don’t normally dedicate an entire post to any kind of product, but I’m making an exception for Atlas Crates and KiwiCo because it has saved my sanity over the past year in and out of lockdowns. The links in this post are affiliate links, but other than that I have received no compensation to write this post.

Here’s a bit more about what KiwiCo does, if you’ve never seen their crates

My son is now 11 and a half, and we have been subscribing to Kiwi Crates since he was about five. KiwiCo is a company that creates subscription boxes with projects for kids (and now adults) for learning and creating. I love these boxes because everything you need to do the project is in the box (except scissors). Glue, paint, sticky things, paper clips, bits of metal, pieces of lightweight balsa wood – it’s all in there. The instructions are clear and written for kids to follow, and they provide videos on their website if that’s easier. From about eight years old my son could follow the directions on his own. My son has never been a sit and do crafts kind of child, he’s not even been all that into building LEGO for hours or anything – but he will sit and work on a project from KiwiCo for a good 90 minutes. The crates come in different age ranges, and even different subject areas – from a slime volcano to sewing a plushie, there’s something for every kid.

Atlas Crate Explore Italy Geography Kit

New Atlas Crates

When KiwiCo launched their new Atlas Crates last year, I was really interested to try them because we travel so much, but everything had shut down at the beginning of the pandemic. The Atlas Crate is pitched for ages 6-11, and the aim is to learn more about and appreciate other cultures. So far we’ve made the projects in the Japan, Colombia, France, Greece, France and Madagascar crates. There is a project or two inside the box, as well as a booklet talking about the traditions, food (with recipes!), and geography of the country you’re learning about. Sometimes we come across a photo from one of those countries, and my son will point out a detail, ‘Look, it’s like the thing I made from my Atlas Crate!’ – just what I want to hear. I just asked him which was his favourite, he said, ‘Sweden! It had a cool game in it’. The game is Kubb, where you throw wooden sticks and large wooden blocks, trying to knock them over.

Atlas Crate Explore Greece Geography Kit

Finally, a project I don’t have to organize

I hear you, we’ve been online schooling at home for months now and we’re missing the hands-on aspect of in-person school. We also subscribe to Tinker Crates, aimed at ages 9-16. These are engineering/STEM projects where kids build something like a crane, a spirograph, or a model trebuchet from parts so they see how it works. What I really like about these projects is they are ambitious and impressive. It’s not a dinky little catapult, it’s a working trebuchet. It’s not a wobbly spirograph, but a motorized paint splatter art maker you’ve built from the circuit board up. My son is thrilled when he’s finished one of these, and really proud he’s made it work. The only downside of these projects is the storage space afterwards – after a year or two of these crates every month, we really have to prioritise which we keep and which we recycle.

My son reading about the continents, from his first Atlas Crate

Support for parents with kids learning at home

KiwiCo has stepped up their online resources for parents trying to help their kids learn at home during lockdowns. Check out this part of their site for free project plans, craft ideas, kitchen experiments, and more. From ‘how to draw a dinosaur’ to ‘the science of handwashing’, this is a bit of a lifesaver when your well of things to do has run dry.

Where does KiwiCo ship to?

KiwiCo is an American company, but we have received our crates in Canada and Germany, and they ship to most of Europe, Hong Kong, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. We have not had to pay duty or any import fees on our crates in Canada or Germany. You can check the full list of places they ship to here.

Atlas Crate Explore Australia Geography Kit

At a loss for a gift? Give a single crate or a subscription

I promise you, any parent would be glad to receive a box like this for their child – it’s an educational yet entertaining activity that they didn’t have to plan. You can check out their store for specific projects, and their matcher-upper will help you narrow down the right project for the right age group. You can supplement any crate with a book to go with it as well, which I think is great for a gift. We have also had crate subscriptions kindly gifted to us by family, which has been such a boon over this very long year spent at home. My son loves sharing his recent projects with family over FaceTime.

Just a reminder, the links in this post are affiliate links, but I have not been compensated in any way for writing this post. We have been using KiwiCo crates for years and years, and I recommend them to everyone I know.

First Month Free! Receive first month free with a 6 or 12-month subscription purchase from KiwiCo. Use code CREATE. Ends 2/28/2021

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Board games: King of Tokyo

Board games: King of Tokyo

IMG_1275

My little guy has been sick this past weekend, which has meant a lot of board game time. One of our favourites has been out on the table for the past three days: [amazon_link id=”B004U5R5BI” target=”_blank” ]King of Tokyo[/amazon_link].

This is a great sort-of co-op game for 2-6 players. I say sort-of co-op – you are battling each other, but you’re taking turns destroying Tokyo. When you’re in the middle of Tokyo, you take all damage, and when you deal damage, you deal it out to everyone equally.

It’s great fun to be a giant monster like the Kraken (above), or Gigazaur, or one of the others. You get to buy extra add-ons like the extra head, a spiked tail – things like that. The games go quickly, and turns aren’t too long either. My son liked playing this when he was 5, but now that he’s 6, he really, really enjoys it. This game will need parents to play too, but it’s a perfect after-dinner activity. Minimal set-up makes it practical for quick games too.

Watch the Tabletop episode on King of Tokyo to get a sense of the gameplay.

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Where to find Japanese home cooking recipes

Where to find Japanese home cooking recipes

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a wee bit of money if you click on a link and buy something. This helps me defray the costs of creating this blog, so thank you!

Happy Birthday to me!

Not much in the way of exciting party times, but a good solid selection of Japanese food delivered for dinner. I thought I’d share some of my favourite recipe sources for making Japanese food at home, since it’s been such a favourite. Pop My Neighbour Totoro on the television and plan your meals!

Just One Cookbook

Just One Cookbook is an extensive recipe blog by a Japanese ex-pat living in California. She’s got a great newsletter as well, so it’s worth signing up. Her video recipe series is exhaustive!

JUST-BENTO_bookcover

This is one of my [amazon_link id=”1568363931″ target=”_blank” ]go-to cookbooks[/amazon_link], and it’s driving me crazy I can’t find it. Don’t ignore it because it seems like it would all be lunch box food – it’s not. Really simple recipes for all sorts of homey Japanese food that makes terrific leftovers, ready to go in your bento.

LetsCooking_cover-web1

I’ve just discovered Hana Etsuko Dethlefsen who is based right here in Vancouver. She teaches Japanese homecoming at the University of British Columbia, and if you live in Canada, you can catch her on One World Kitchen on Gusto TV. Her self-published book, Let’s Cooking, is available on her site. And I really want to do one of her cooking classes.

 

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5 beautiful Apple watch bands

5 beautiful Apple watch bands

I’ve had my Apple Watch for awhile now, because I stayed up until midnight to preorder it. Because I am like that.

I have a space grey 38mm one, with the black sports band. The Apple sports band is very comfortable, and actually much less SPORTS than it looks in pictures. However, it’s hard not to start looking into replacement straps pretty much straight away. Here are my favourite options so far.

CASETIFY_greymarble

Casetify Make your own band with your own photos, or pick from their selection of patterns. Personally, I am loving this faux marble one.

MakerGrafix_leatherred

Maker Grafix Traditional leather watch bands have their own appeal. Get your initials stamps on the inner side too.

CUBIFY_bluefibre

Cubify Very tactile, these 3D-printed nylon bands come in several colours and a few different textures.

LEATHERSY_brownstrap

Leathersy Bespoke leather strap with minimalist single peg closure? Yes please. Vegetable-dyed, and gorgeous.

MONOWEAR_greynylon

Monowear The nylon strap with the multiple loops has a nice utilitarian thing going, a little bit tougher than the sports band.

 

Images courtesy Casetify, Maker Grafix, Cubify, Leathersy, and Monowear, respectively.

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A really good paper airplane book

A really good paper airplane book

This post contains affiliate links, this means when you click through and purchase, I receive a fee. This helps defray the cost of maintaining this blog. 

paper airplane book

If you’ve got a small child between 3 and, well, I’m not sure there’s an upper age limit here, paper airplane construction becomes a critical life skill. I wrote about a great online resource for paper airplane plans here, and it’s one of my most popular posts. As my son’s appetite for paper airplanes only grows, I decided to invest in an actual book. The [amazon_link id=”0761143831″ target=”_blank” ]World Record Paper Airplane Book[/amazon_link] is a pretty good one.

Along with plans for many different types of planes, there are pages to cut out that produces really cool looking planes, and a hangar to park them on. There is also many pages of seriously deep information into why each model flies and how, discussions of drag and lift. So if you have an older child who is into Knowing Everything, this is great. You can safely ignore those chapters otherwise.

I particularly liked the troubleshooting tips that go along with each plane model. After you’ve finished following along with the clear diagrams, they provide some help for diving planes, planes that go up quickly and then dive, or veer in a particular direction. This is handy when your child wails, ‘Mummy! This plane DOES NOT WORK.’

What are your best paper airplane resources?

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