Crafting crates: Part 1 – the Doodle Crate

A year ago, my boyfriend showed me this thing called a “loot crate.” It was love at first sight. The thought of receiving monthly kits to keep you energized is brilliant. The only thing that can be a catch for some (especially teacher budgets like mine) is the price tag. And, while it is not steep, it does have a cost. So, for that reason, I withheld making any purchases.

However, recently, my boyfriend shared a YouTube series with me called “Smarter Everyday.” As an educator, I enjoy the quick segments, humor, and intellectual growth. At the end of the episode, the show’s creator featured Kiwi Crate. Immediately, my attention was perked. Another crate? Say what? And, better yet, if you clicked on his link, you would receive a trial month for free (while plus $4.95 shipping & handling). As an aside, when I signed up for a trial, it did get my credit card info, so I will have to remember to cancel if I can’t afford or if I don’t like. Though I understand the business of it, it is a drawback for some. After the first month, it is $19.95 a month for each crate. Though, if you go to Kiwi Crate, you can get it for $16.95 a month if you pay upfront. In the end, the price is roughly the same.

There are four crates to choose from – koala, kiwi, doodle, and tinker. Koala and kiwi are for younger children, but the doodle and tinker crates are for “children” ages 9 and up. So, I signed us up for one of each – a tinker and a doodle.

(Example crates you can get with a Doodle Crate subscription)

Now, I’m perfectly capable of searching Pinterest and starting these ideas on my own (and as any of my close friends can tell you, I do). However, the simplicity and consistency of the crates have huge appeal. Imagine making your own in your classroom – having a surprise monthly crate to challenge your creativity.

So, I signed up for both the doodle and tinker crates. When you love making as much as I do, it’s hard to choose. Then, I began the waiting process. When you first subscribe, the crate ships within approximately 3 business days of your purchase. Afterwards, your crate will arrive mid-month for every following month. Since you are required to create an account, you can login to your account at anytime to view the status of your order. I also discovered it’s a way of finding the specific type of crate you’ll be receiving. For instance, it shows that I’ll be getting the drawbot for my Tinker Crate. And, it was correct!


Approximately one week after I signed up for my creates, they arrived on my front porch!

When I first had the revelation to blog about my crates, I didn’t account for the time to create. Foolish me! So, this is part one of two on the kits. The focus: the Doodle Crate.

Since the Doodle Crate arrived two days before my Tinker Crate, it was a natural choice to start work on the Doodle Crate.

I opened my box and discovered a pamphlet on what I would be making and how I could make it. I also found carefully packaged items to use in my creation process. And, I discovered the box itself works as an awesome canvas for creating.

This month’s focus is on crafting your own pencils and pencil holders. It came fully stocked with paint, two types of paint brushes, two packages of paper clay, gloss finish, glue, paper for pencils, and colored led. Oh, and a tutorial book!

Another look at all of the goodies!

Next up – creating. I decided to make the pencils first since I knew I’d get messy with the clay. The creating of the pencils was rather simple. However, the creation process was great for stimulating ideas.

To begin, lay out piece of paper and fold it one inch from the bottom.

Then, put a line of glue along that line (unfold first).

And, place the led on top of the line of glue.

Roll the paper over the led and crease a hard line around the led.

Finally, repeat gluing and rolling the paper until you reach the end and place a final line of glue.

Allow to dry – about an hour – and then, you can sharpen the pencils in the accompanying sharpener. This is where I was unable to follow. I found the sharpener did not sharpen the pencils the way the pamphlet showed. So, I’m going to go back to this and try again, as all makers do.

I also decided to dip my pencil ends in colors to correspond with the led, per the pamphlet’s suggestion.

Next up  – the clay sculpting process. Though I create all the time, it had been a while since I used paper clay. I discovered I used too much water. I also morphed my creatures into fantasy characters since they did not appear the same as their lovely drawings. This, too, is part of the maker process – remember the process and not just the product.

I failed to document the creation process since my hands were fully covered in clay. However, remember to keep a tower and cup of water nearby. The pamphlet covers this as well.

After you finish creating your two figurines (or, you could do one large one – I wish I had) and punching in holes to use as a pencil holder, you have to let your clay dry overnight. Mine was so wet, I let it dry two days.

Then, you can paint. The paint dried in under 30 minutes. Finally, coat your figurines in the supplied gloss for a clean finish.

With all things maker, it’s important to document your creative process. It’s never just about the product. The product is a fun gift at the end, but it is not the most important thing. Challenge your students to document their work!

Since I have not tried my Tinker Crate yet, I don’t have a preference. I do believe they target different skills. This targets the creative process. While, Tinker Crate is more problem-solving. If you can, I’d suggest doing both!  You can also go onto the Kiwi Crate Website for suggestions on ideas to try and ways to do these on your own.


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