A great holiday camp for kids who love to build!

young engineers

During school breaks, I usually try to come up with a bunch of craft ideas and projects to try with the kids while they’re home. But for the last week of this past Christmas break the girls attended holiday camp run by Young Engineers Kenya, and they loved it!

young engineers young engineers

Young Engineers Kenya runs super fun programs that teach kids aged 3-12 years about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) using LEGO and Kne’x bricks. They had a massive holiday camp that ran from the end of October all the way through Christmas (basically the entire Kenyan school break), with different themes for each week, from adventure to robotics, mysteries of the universe to entrepreneurship, and – finally – Christmas ornaments.

young engineers young engineers

Claire and Heidi went for the last week of the camp program, with the Christmas ornaments theme. Young Engineers is located at the Little Paws Montessori compound on Makini Road, off Riara in Kilimani. (Conveniently for us, this is less than a five minute walk from our house! I think the kids loved walking to camp almost as much as the enjoyed camp itself…) They spent their days building all kinds of things with their LEGO and Kne’x sets (LEGO for the older kids, and Kne’x for the younger ones).

young engineers young engineers

Heidi built a butterfly, a merry-go-round, and a flower with a spinning top on the day that I popped in for a visit. Claire built a motorized washing machine (!!!!), a bulldozer, and a motorcycle that really moved (she was so excited about this one!).

young engineers

The camp teachers were really kind and fun to be around. They guided the kids through each building project, giving them space to build and create, but also helping them along if they got stuck or couldn’t figure out how something worked. I was amazed that even kids as young as 3 could follow along with the building instructions.

young engineers young engineers

In between building and creating, the kids played outside, jumped on the trampoline, or spent time being chased around by the resident tortoise. (This was the MOST child-friendly tortoise I have ever seen. He actually chased the kids around. They loved him!)

young engineers young engineers

On the last day of camp, the kids went on a field trip to a nearby children’s home. They brought along their LEGO sets, and built some cool projects with the kids there. My girls missed out on this day, but it sounds like it was really fun, and a great experience for the camp kids and children’s home kids alike.

young engineers

This was such a great camp for Claire and Heidi, because they both LOVE to build. The most used toys in our house have always been Duplo, blocks, and magna-tiles. Now I think it’s time to finally upgrade from our Duplo set and get some big-kid LEGO. Maybe even a fun engineering set with gears, pulleys, wheels and motors!

young engineers

I love what Young Engineers Kenya is doing – teaching boys and girls to love STEM through play and creativity. If you missed out on their holiday camp, check out their Facebook page for details on future camps. And, if you think this is something your child would really love, they also do extracurricular sessions during term time, Monday to Friday from 2 pm to 5 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm.

young engineers

The girls both loved their week at camp, and they can’t wait to go back for more. Thanks for an incredible week of creating, building and learning!

Young Engineers Kenya offered us a free week at their holiday camp, and no additional compensation. I have written my honest opinion about our experiences, and all words are my own. Thanks to Faith and the whole team at Young Engineers Kenya for all the fun! 

Posted in Nairobi Living, Stuff We Love | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ringing in the New Year in Kakamega Rainforest

Kakamega

Happy New Year! We just got back from an incredible trip to Kakamega Rainforest in western Kenya. We did lots of hiking, lots of bird watching, and lots of relaxing. I’ll write another post soon with a full review of the campsites in Kakamega (there is SO little information on the internet about visiting this gorgeous spot), but for now, here are some photos from our trip, if you’re interested!

Kakamega

It was a long ride (8 hours, with stops), but we have been wanting to visit Kakamega Rainforest for ages. I last visited the forest in 2004 (pre-Jesse, pre-kids!), and Jesse had never been. We set up camp at Udo’s Campsite in the northern part of the forest, run by KWS. We had the campsite mostly to ourselves, but we had to share with the local troop of Colobus monkeys… 🙂

Kakamega Kakamega Kakamega

We took lots of hikes through the forest, checking out the flora and fauna. The kids loved climbing all the trees in the forest. We loved checking out all the monkeys and bird species! Breathing in the cool forest air was heaven.

Kakamega Kakamega Kakamega

We also hiked down to a waterfall not far from our campsite. Claire is a little mountain goat, and she loves to leap around from rock to rock in the water.

Kakamega Kakamega Kakamega

We spent lots of time just hanging out, taking naps, playing card games, and reading. My kind of holiday.

Kakamega Kakamega

On New Year’s Day, we made our way up to the Buyangu viewpoint in the forest to watch the very first sunrise of 2018. What a way to start the year!

Kakamega Kakamega Kakamega

Happy New Year, and may 2018 be the very best year yet! Thanks for the memories, Kakamega. We can’t wait to come back!

Posted in Camping, Travels | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Holiday photos: Thanksgiving at Sand Island Beach

Sand Island Beach

Last weekend we went back to our favorite beach spot, Sand Island Beach Cottages, to celebrate American Thanksgiving with some friends. It’s been a whole year since we last visited the coast, and it was so good to be back! (Remember last year’s travel fiasco?) Here are some photos, if you’d like to see…

Sand Island Beach
Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach

Sand Island is basically paradise. We love the lovely cottages, especially the shady verandas that are just a stone’s throw from the ocean, perfect for escaping the midday sun. The kids loved searching the grass for gigantic hermit crabs and other creatures. Heidi found the world’s most gigantic snail, and just picked it up like it was no big deal…

Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach

We spent our mornings swimming in the ocean during high tide. Claire and Heidi both love swimming, and Sand Island has this lovely sandy area in the middle of the coral reef that is perfect for splashing around when the tide is high. During low tide, we paddled around the tidal pools, checking out the sea life inside. Every time we go to Tiwi, we find some new, bizarre creature out on the reef. This time, we found a sea anemone with a little Nemo family inside!

Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach

We also made our usual trip out to the starfish gardens, always a highlight of any trip to Tiwi! The starfish are so gorgeous, I couldn’t stop taking photos. We even found a seven-legged starfish! (One leg away from being an octopus – ha!)

Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach Sand Island Beach

In the late afternoons we hung out on the beach, building sand castles and enjoying the sunset. Late afternoons are my favorite time at the beach – I always wish those last hours of the day would stretch on forever!

Sand Island Beach

We had such a lovely time – I already can’t wait to go back… Sand Island, we love you!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Holiday photos: Thanksgiving at Sand Island Beach

Back to school (Whoopee!)

Back to school

The girls are back to school this week, and I have officially become that mom who dances in the street after saying goodbye to the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my two little rascals, but this school break was LONG, and the fights were REAL. A few hours apart will do us all a world of good – especially these battling sisters!

Back to school

Heidi went back to kindergarten on Tuesday, to a teacher and a classroom she knows and loves. She’s grown a lot, and I’m amazed at how easy drop-off was compared to last year! (I think it helps that we weren’t all battling jet lag.) I was wondering how she would handle going to school without her big sister. It turns out, Heidi is totally ready for independence!

Back to school

Claire started class 1 yesterday, with a touching ceremony. The whole school gathers to welcome the new children with songs, flowers, and candlelight. Each new student was matched up with a “guardian,” an older child from class 6 who acts sort of like a big brother or sister for the incoming kids. Claire was in her element, beaming with excitement, ready to start this new chapter in her life.

Back to school Back to school

One of the beautiful things about this school year is the one-on-one time I will get with Heidi each afternoon while Claire is still at school. Heidi and I rarely get alone time – a fact of life for many younger siblings, I’m sure. I feel like I got to know her better yesterday, just hanging out with her on our own for a few hours before big sister got home from school. I’m really looking forward to these quiet hours of one-on-one play this term!

Back to school

How did back-to-school go for you? I’m so happy that this year went more smoothly than last year’s back-to-school debacle… 😉 Cheers to all you mamas and papas who got to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee this morning, or who did your own little dance of joy after the kiddos hit the road!

Posted in Parenthood | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

School break activity: brewing fizzy magic potions

Fizzy magic potions

The long, cold, dark days of August have arrived, and we’re trying to spice things up with some extra fun crafts and sensory activities. This one was a whopper! And we already had all the materials in our cupboard! (Thanks to Jean over at The Artful Parent for yet another amazing kids’ activity!) Continue reading

Posted in Parenthood | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on School break activity: brewing fizzy magic potions

Kids’ craft: marbled paper made with shaving cream and paint

It’s school break, and I’m always on the hunt for easy, fun crafts to do with the kids during the long days at home. Jean over at The Artful Parent is my favorite inspiration for all things crafty! The kids and I made some beautiful marbled paper the other day, and I can’t wait to use it to make some nice cards and gifts! Continue reading

Posted in Parenthood | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Kids’ craft: marbled paper made with shaving cream and paint

Island life at Mfangano Island Camp in Lake Victoria

Mfangano Island Camp

Those of you who follow me on social media know that we just got back from the most amazing trip to Mfangano Island Camp in Lake Victoria. We spent three days by the lake, enjoying the waves, the breeze, and getting into island life. (Claire has started calling herself “Lake Girl.” Ha!) Here are some photos, if you’d like to see… Continue reading

Posted in Travels | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Great camping hack for kids – a bucket and rope!

Bucket and rope

When camping, I usually pack a bin with a few crayons and coloring books in case the kids need some activities beyond climbing rocks, hiking, and running around in the long grass. On our last trip, I decided to also bring a bucket and some rope. I wasn’t sure whether the kids would be into it, but it turns out this was the best camping activity ever! Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Parenthood | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Rhino Charge 2017: Adventuring in the north Kenyan bush

Rhino Charge

As you guys know, a couple of weeks ago we participated in the Rhino Charge, a charitable race that supports the conservation and protection of Kenya’s wildlife and mountain range ecosystems. This year, chargers raised a staggering 153 million shillings ($1.5 million dollars) to support Rhino Ark Trust’s conservation works, and a further 4.4 million shillings ($44,000 dollars) to support the Songa Community Conservancy. Jesse fulfilled a lifelong dream as a runner for Car 51, The DeRanged Rovers, and the Rhino Charge was raging success! Continue reading

Posted in Travels | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy birthday, Claire!

Happy birthday to this sweet, smart, sassy girl – Claire turns 6 today! We will be celebrating out in the bush, at the Rhino Charge. We got her a new board game and two new books for her birthday – I hope she loves them! Continue reading

Posted in Parenthood | Tagged , | Comments Off on Happy birthday, Claire!