Knowledge Crates produces a new crate of activities for each season of the year—four per year. You can order crates for two levels: preschool (ages 3-5) or school-age (ages 6-10). Also, you can order individual crates or subscribe for a year at a time.
They also produce mini-crates on specific topics (also available for two levels). Mini-crates available as of October 2021 are Halloween, Dinosaur, Unicorns, Safari, Space, and Pirates. Aside from Halloween, the other mini-crates can be used whenever you wish.
I received both preschool and school-age crates for Fall for review. Each crate has more than 20 activities, The majority of the activities involve arts and crafts, but some activities stretch across the curriculum. All of the activities are tied to the crate’s theme. The crates include almost everything you will need. You might have to supply cookie sheets, scissors, or other common items, but the kits include items like pens, markers, crayons, and glue along with all of the other resources.
These crates are really loaded! The crates for both levels have some of the same activities and resources, but they differentiate resources, such as the children's picture books and the instructions for some of the activities to better suit the two levels.
Every kit includes an Activity Guide that gives a quick introduction followed by instructions for all of the activities. Activities are identified by colored buttons to show what learning areas they address: art, math, science, literacy, social studies, physical development, social and emotional development, and approaches to learning through play. This is not a complete curriculum but a supplement that will add variety to learning.
Each crate includes three children’s picture books. In the two Fall crates, the set of three books included one book on a nature topic and two other books. The nature books are Little Acorn for preschool and Toxic Beasts for the school-age crate. Both of the other books in the crates are picture books about social and emotional issues: Ruby Finds a Worry and There’s Only One You for preschool and The Good Egg and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for the school-age crate. The books are secular in their perspective, so books such as There’s Only One You show families with two fathers, and problems in the other stories are solved psychologically rather than morally or spiritually.
The preschool crate says there are 22 activities, while the school-age crate says it has 24. However, there are actually more than that since some of the activities have extensions, and the three books are grouped together as one activity. (You will almost certainly want to use each of the books as individual activities.) In addition, the preschool crate has six rhymes for finger plays that you might use over and over again.
Activities That are in Both Crates
As I mentioned, some of the same activities are included in both kits, although there are slight variations in the instructions for the different levels. I will share a few examples of the activities that are in both crates.
The Scarecrow Puppet is constructed from a kit with pre-cut wooden pieces and other supplies that are all included. There are separate wooden pieces for the body, arms, and legs. First children will paint these with the included paints and brush. (They might want to paint both sides.) They will connect the pieces with brads and add string that will make the arms and legs movable. Yarn and googly eyes can be added to the face. Twine can be threaded through a hole in the scarecrow’s hat to hang the puppet.
Magic Model Dough in both crates is used to create different types of leaves. (Leaves for other projects can be used as models or children can create whatever shapes they wish.) Children will paint the leaves, and they can poke holes in them and hang them with twine if they wish. (The leaves might be added to the Kraft Leaf Mobile created in another activity.)
Shaving Cream Art begins with the student or parent putting a layer of shaving cream on a section of a cookie sheet. Then they will drip one or more colors of paint into the shaving cream and swirl the colors using popsicle sticks. Four half-sheets of heavy-weight art paper can be placed one at a time on the shaving cream then removed. Children scrape off excess shaving cream to reveal their design. Children can stop at this point or they can cut out leaf shapes from their marbled paper and add them to their mobile.
A small booklet titled Fall Yoga has ten modified (and invented) yoga poses that are appropriately named acorn, apple basket, falling leaves, scarecrow, etc. These are simple enough exercises for children to do.
Both crates also have three colors of Crayola Dough and accessory items to be used with the dough. And both kits have canvas and paint activities.
If every project isn't a good fit for your child, it shouldn't matter. There are so many activities that you're not likely to mind if you need to skip a few.
The kits for the two levels are differentiated in many ways other than the selection of children’s books and the activity instructions.
For example, the preschool crate has the aforementioned fingerplays, an activity for blowing apple-scented bubbles, Magic Nuudles (made from cornstarch), for a sensory and art activity, and two pattern activities with leaves where they learn to sort leaves and make repeating patterns. The school-age crate has a small basket weaving project and a science project that uses the two plastic bottles included in the kit.
There are a number of differentiated activities that use laminated mats in each crate. The preschool crate has three of these wipe-off mats for tracing words, such as apple, acorn, autumn, squirrels, September, and October. It also has a “Fall I-Spy” mat for children to count the number of items they can spot for four different types of leaves, bears, raccoons, owls, and deer. Preschoolers will use plastic leaf counters and a sorting mat for a counting activity. On another mat, they use a die to determine how many of each color of the plastic leaf counters to add to a tree. They write the number of each on the lines provided.
Early elementary students also have a “Fall I-Spy” mat, but they will be looking for different types of leaves, acorns, pinecones, and apples. A double-sided math practice mat has students roll a die to come up with a number to add to or subtract from the numbers already on the mat, then write their answers on the lines. Extension activities expand into multiplication. A Story Map mat is used to write a short “Fall Adventure” story. In addition, there is an unlaminated U.S. map to be used with some cards about northeastern states for a short lesson on that area of the country.
I haven’t covered all of the resources in these kits, but I think this gives you a good idea of their variety and high quality. You can always try a mini-crate or order just one season to check it out.