Since 1854 — News from Montcalm County and Ionia County, Michigan
By Elisabeth Waldon | on January 08, 2022
I n Christmas 2020, my husband and I wanted to get our two daughters some educational gifts in addition to their Pokemon, LOL Doll and Tamagotchi toys.
Ada, 10, mixes raw beef into hamburger patties for a New Year’s Day meal for our family, inspired by her Yummy Crate subscription from Kiwi Co. — DN Photo | Elisabeth Waldon
I came across Kiwi Co. somewhere online and it immediately caught my interest. The company offers a variety of monthly crates (boxes) for children of all ages via a subscription.
I decided to get Anna (who was 7 years old at the time) the Kiwi Crate, which is focused on science and art. One of her first crates was called Arcade Claw and she got to build an arcade claw game with homemade pom-pom prizes (the box gets turned into an arcade game console with windows and a homemade wooden claw to reach down and try to grab toys). She still uses her wooden claw a year later to create other games.
For Ada (who was 9 years old at the time) I ordered the Doodle Crate, which is focused on creative arts and crafts. Her first crate involved making a faux leather portfolio with decorations. She says her favorite crate was a succulent garden craft (made out of felt).
“It looks so adorable and it was fun to make the plants by rolling up the felt,” she said.
A year later, Ada is now 10 going on 11 (she wants to be a pet groomer when she grows up … or an astronaut). This past Christmas, we changed her Kiwi subscription to the Yummy Crate, which teaches kids how to cook (with help from parents as sous chefs). She and I had a lot of fun making her first meal for a family New Year’s Eve dinner — hamburgers and smashed potatoes. Anna, who can be a bit of a picky eater, declared her sister’s first homemade meal “the best dinner I’ve ever had,” and she proceeded to clean her plate — green onion garnish and all.
While cooking, Ada and I both learned about the Maillard reaction — the delicious browning process that happens to food when protein and sugar meet heat and changes the food’s molecular structure and flavor.
Up until trying her cooking crate, the most Ada had made on her own in our kitchen was ramen noodles or canned soup, so making her first from-scratch dinner was a fun and eye-opening experience. She surprised us both when she even enjoyed forming the raw meat into patties with her own hands.
“It really introduced me to how to cook because I don’t do that very often,” she said. “It’s inspiring — and very filling!”
Anna is now almost 9 years old and wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up (she’s a big fan of “Dino Dana” on PBS Kids). This past Christmas, we switched her Kiwi subscription to the Atlas Crate, which teaches kids about geography and cultures.
Anna, 8, holds her homemade globe and two munecas quitapenas (Guatemalan worry dolls or trouble dolls wearing traditional Mayan clothes), all of which she created from her Atlas Crate subscription from Kiwi Co. — DN Photo | Elisabeth Waldon
The first Atlas Crate came with a world map, a fun Atlas Adventure Book that she will add to over time and her favorite part — building her own spinning globe (with a tiny heart placed over Michigan on the map).
“I think most children love exploring the world,” Anna said. “You get to build stuff and everything is super cute. I like how it comes with everything you need. It’s super educational and it’s just really fun.”
Kiwi Co. has crates for all ages (the Panda Crate is for infants to age 2, while the Maker Crate is for ages 14 to 104). The cost averages about $20 per crate per month, which is a bit of a splurge for some families, but the company often offers special deals online (kiwico.com) and you can try the subscription one month at a time and cancel anytime.
Kiwi Co. features many other neat products as well — this past Christmas I ordered their Christmas Village Advent Calendar, which consists of 24 cute envelopes to hang up on a wall. Inside each envelope was a small wooden craft (such as a reindeer and stall, a holly wreath, Christmas trees and an old-timey church and steeple) which the girls assembled together each morning throughout the month. By Christmas Eve, we had an adorable old-fashioned village set up on our piano in the living room.
Our family would definitely recommend a Kiwi crate for any family who wants their children to experiment with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities, geography, cooking and creativity in general. We homeschool our two daughters, so Kiwi crates are a fun extension of other things we are already learning about, plus it’s another reminder/excuse for us to spend quality time together as a family. When the crates arrive, it’s the highlight of the month for our daughters — and my husband and I often have fun digging into the crates with them as well.
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