Knowledge Crates produces a new crate of activities for each season of the year—four per year. You can order crates for two levels that they label as "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, all available for either preschool or school-age children. The mini-crates available as of October 2021 are labeled Halloween, Dinosaur, Unicorns, Safari, Space, and Pirates.
I received both preschool and school-age crates for the fall to review. Each crate has more than 20 activities, all of which are tied to the crate’s theme. These crates are really loaded! The crates include almost everything you will need. You might have to supply cookie sheets, scissors, or other common items, but the crates include items like pens, markers, crayons, and glue along with children's picture books, craft kits, craft media, and other resources.The crates for both levels have some of the same activities and resources, but they have some that are different. The two levels also include different children's picture books, and the instructions for some of the activities are adapted to better suit the two levels.
The majority of the activities involve arts and crafts, but some activities stretch into language arts, science, math, and social studies. Every crate 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 under the headings art, math, science, literacy, social studies, physical development, social and emotional development, and approaches to learning through play. Keep in mind that 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, each 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. All four of the other books in the two 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 you might want to preread them for content before sharing them with your children. For example, There’s Only One You show families with same-sex parents, and problems in the other stories are solved psychologically or in a utilitarian manner rather than from a basis of morality or religious beliefs.
The preschool crate says there are 22 activities, while the school-age crate says it has 24. However, there are actually more than the stated numbers of activities since some of the them 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 were included in both crates, although there are slight variations in the instructions for the different levels. I will share a few examples of the activities that were in both crates.
A scarecrow puppet is constructed from pre-cut wooden pieces and other supplies that are all included in a mini-kit. 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 to the arms and legs. Yarn and googly eyes can be added to the face.
Magic Model Dough in both crates is used to create different types of leaves. (Silk and plastic 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.)
The shaving cream art project 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 crates have canvas and paint activities.
If not every project is 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 crates 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 finger plays, an activity for blowing apple-scented bubbles, Magic Nuudles® ("packing peanuts" made from cornstarch that stick together when moistened) for a sensory and art activity, and two pattern activities with plastic 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 crate.
There are a number of differentiated activities that use laminated, wipe-off mats from each crate. The preschool crate has mats for tracing words and mats for counting and sorting activities that include writing numbers. "School-age" students have laminated mats with more-challenging activities. Among them are a double-sided math practice mat has students roll a die to come up with a number to add to or subtract from a number already on the mat, then write their answer on the line. Extension activities with that same mat 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 crates, 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.