Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nerd Block Jr. - July box

I purchased a 3-month subscription to Nerd Block Jr. for my son over the summer. You can read about our first box here. We received the July box on Monday and it was ripped open with excitement before I could get home. This month didn't have an overall theme, just some stuff in a box. Here is what is inside:

The box came with a Middle School level book by Jeff Probst (the guy who hosts  the tv show Survivor), a summer activity book, glow in the dark Ninja Turtle tattoos, a kidrobot figure, a Yoda assembly "craft" and a Skylanders figure.

Skylanders is a video game that requires a portal & additional figures purchased

My soon-to-be 13yo quickly snatched up the book, otherwise it would have ended up on the book shelf for a few years. The activity book has crossword puzzles, outdoor facts, questions, but is a little too advanced for my 8yo. Both books are something we can work on and read together! The "big ticket" item is the Skylanders figure. My kids like this video game and have managed to collect quite a few characters over the years its been out. Unfortunately he already has the figure that was in the box and none of his friends have the game, so he decided to paint it and use it for pretend playing.

Odin's favorite items are the kidrobot figure and the Yoda craft.

Here is a better photo of the Yoda thing.
Overall, I'm not as stoked on this box as I was with the June, we'll see what August holds. I assume not every box can have a serious wow-factor and had he received a Skylanders figure he didn't already have, Odin would have been ecstatic.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kiwi Crate - July Box

I purchased my son a 3-month subscription to Kiwi Crate this summer. We received our first box in June, you can read about it here. June's box theme was "color" and Odin did the activities multiple times, it came with a lot of supplies. The July box is not as full of activities as the June, but still has fun and educational projects. Here is what was inside this month's box:

Odin had already finished both crafts by the end of the day.
The July theme is "bugs". A great theme, since my kids are almost as scared of bugs as I am. There are two crafts in the box: My Dragonflyers and Bug tic-tac-toe. The Dragonflyers is a quick color and apply sticky tape project. You can see the green bottle and finished bugs in the above photo, squeeze the bottle and your dragonfly's fly! The tic-tac-toe came with Crayola modeling clay and accessories to create your bugs, as well as the game box. My 8yo was able to complete both of these projects on his own with zero mess.

Tic-tac-toe came with make your own bugs and paper bugs to play the game.
The box also came with an activity book with mazes, coloring pages, a "bonus" project, comic strip, etc. Not as packed full as the first box, but we will definitely be spending the rest of the month playing the game and taking time to learn more about bugs.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kids - Excavating frozen Dinosaurs

When Jurassic World came out the whole family really wanted to see it. But, I couldn't bring myself to take the kids unless they watched the first three Jurassic movies. I also wanted to gauge if they could handle the scary dinosaurs and occasional carnage, in the comfort of our living room.

Thanks to our local library I was able to request all three movies in a pack and we had three nights of dinosaur movie action. Kids ruling, the first one was the best. I agree.

Lucky for me we are on a dinosaur kick. We saw Jurassic World, it was good, kids loved it. We went to the museum and saw the dinosaur exhibit. Then I came across this craft on Pinterest. Frozen dinosaur excavation.

Take some plastic dinosaurs and put them in some Tupperware or a bowl, fill it with water, add some food coloring to help hide them, put it in the freezer. We had a collection of dinosaurs from the dollar store that we accumulated over the years of two kids. You can also purchase a bag of tiny or medium dinosaurs for less than $10 on Amazon, or search your local dollar store for a couple. Any size will work.

The dinosaurs tend to float when you put them into the bowls, I put make-shift plastic lids to hold the dino's down while they froze.

Once they are frozen you dump the bowl upside down and let the kids have at it! My kiddo's used squirt guns, cups of water, a meat mallet and the dog to help dig the dino's out.

Now the kids want to freeze other plastic toys and jewelry to dig out of ice! Outdoor summer fun.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Gauging a successful vacation with kids

1. Thinking or talking about work less than 35% of the time.

2. Yelling at the kids to stop fighting less than 5 times. (This is a serious achievement.)

3. Letting the hubby have alone time to read and draw more than one-hour total during entire vacation.

4. There was actual all of the family involved, fun-time had. At least once.

5. We all came back alive and tired.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Kawaii Monthly Subscription Box - May

So we subscribed to a Kawaii monthly box. Kawaii is a Japanese term for cute. My 12yo daughter is into anime and manga, so over summer I got her a 3-month subscription. Our first box was the May box. Because of over-seas shipping in showed up mid-June.

The box design is cute with a little bow around it.

This is her excited face. 

Inside the box was quite a few Kawaii items, stationary, comb thingy, squishy Hello Kitty doughnut, stickers, candy, cell phone charm, hair dingy, eraser and a little banana. Even the tissue paper in the box is custom with little cute figures on it.

The entire contents.
Her two favorite items were the stuff banana and the puffy Alpacasso stickers.

Needless to say she is very excited for the June box to show up mid-July. The subscription cost is $18.90 a month, you can sign up for a 1,3, 6 or 12 month subscription. We can't wait to get the next box!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kids - Creating a chore chart

I think it is really important that kids understand the importance of earning. We try hard to not buy a lot of toys and junk for our kids. Of course occasionally we do purchase them something, but its usually because they behaved well under a circumstance or helped out with something around the house (babysitting your little brother while Dad and I dealt with a leaking ceiling). Because we have been firm about our "no's" since they were little, they don't throw tantrums when they don't get something they want. If they really want something they have to save.

We have a white-board calendar in our dining room with weekly "mandatory" chores for each kid. On that board is also the kids virtual bank that keeps track of their funds. The image below shows the start of July and the end of June at the bottom. As they do their chores they cross them off.

The 12yo cleans the cat box every week, she also feeds the cat and makes sure his bowls are clean. The 8yo dumps the compost bins every week, which we recently put on hold as we relocate our compost bin and now he is expected to help me pull weeds every week. They rotate taking out the trash.

Every other Sunday they either clean their rooms, or tend to the bathroom chores; 12yo scrubs the sink, 8yo scrubs the toilet. They are also expected to practice their instrument everyday. Which they almost do everyday...

Payday is every 2 weeks, the 12yo gets $3, the 8yo gets $2. They can earn additional money by doing extra chores, we have a cheat sheet just under the board. Everything is abbreviated so it can fit on the board. My daughter, Darby the 12yo, just added doing the dishes as an extra chore. They keep track of what they have "in the bank". When they decide to spend some of their money they subtract that money when we get home.

Darby is the chore dictator of the house, more than the hubby and I. Often we help the kids clean the bathroom so we can teach them how to do it right. Or help with the cat box. It definitely takes more time and you have to take a deep breath and smile knowing this would be so much easier if I just did it myself... But, my kids are learning the notion that Mom and Dad are not going to hand me money and send me on my way to spend. If they break their electronic devices (which are hand-me-downs, super basic or they saved all their holiday money for something better), they have to save to replace them.

I think this is a really important lesson. Sometimes my kids fight us on it, but now that we've done this for a handful or years they've gotten into the habit of just getting it done. It's pretty fantastic.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kids - Magic Science Kit

My daughter received this kit as a birthday gift three years ago. We did some of the activities and then she was no longer interested and the kit was shelved. Earlier this year we pulled it out of her closet and handed it to the 8yo. I figured nothing was going to work because it had been sitting in the closet for so long, but I was wrong.

There are seven activities in the box. Most have to do with density, acids and bases. A lot of color changing and fizzy experiments. Basic contents in the box: baking soda, citric acid, vegetable oil, red cabbage juice powder, zinc sulfide, 4 test tubes, a test tube stand, scooper's for measuring, and a few other random items for the experiments.

None of the experiments are overally messy and there are none on an explosive level, like Mentos and Coke-a-Cola. It's a very good learning tool for me and for my kiddos. The lowest cost I found online is at Target for $17.99.