Is there anything nicer than getting a package full of surprises in the mail? How about a package full of surprises in the mail once a month! I’ve noticed a growing number of monthly subscription-box services popping up lately; I decided to check out a bunch of them and report my findings here. Previously reviewed: Knoshbox and La Bella Box, two great gift ideas for adults. This time around, I’m looking at subscription boxes meant especially for kids.
1. WONDER BOX
I discovered Wonder Box when I was looking for a birthday gift for my three-year-old godchild, the brilliant daughter of my fellow GeekMom, Kristen Rutherford. When it comes to presents, I’m usually sort of a one-note giver — books, books, and more books — but this time, I wanted to give something different, something Kristen and Vivi could do together. Something hands-on, creative, and fun. The second I saw Wonder Box, an assortment of crafts and activities aimed at kids ages 3-6, I knew I’d hit a bullseye. You can order Wonder Box as a one-time gift, or sign up for a monthly subscription.
Sample contents: The Once Upon A Time theme box contained materials for three projects: a Story Cape (cape and fabric crayons); Puppet Play (felt puppet body and decorations); and illustrated Story Cards. There was also a Stone Soup storybook with pictures to color in, and a recipe for Stone Soup. Other recent themes include the very enticing Mad Scientist box and a Nature box. The projects are simple and appealing, and the materials are high quality. As for how it went over with the birthday girl, here’s what Kristen wrote me:
“THE WONDER BOX IS AMAZING. We have melted crayons and painted with this crazy powdered paint. I’m going to subscribe to this. I’m absolutely buying them as birthday presents for some folks coming up…”
Age range: 3-6 years.
Cost: Single box: $30. 3-month subscription: $75. Ongoing monthly subscription: $19.99/month.
UPDATED! Use code HOLIDAY5-03 at checkout for $5 off one order now through January 13.
Gift subscriptions available? Yes. You’ll include your recipient’s email in your order, generating a “you’ve got a Wonder Box” notice for the giftee (or presumably, her parent).
Well, after my soaring success with Wonder Box, I became curious to know what other kids’ subscription boxes were out there. My search led me to BabbaBox, and this one was a tremendous hit with my own daughter, age six. Rilla is my little artist; there is truly nothing she enjoys doing more than some kind of painting/drawing/cutting/glueing project. She was pretty much in heaven when the BabbaBox arrived.
Sample contents: This box’s theme was “Awesome Artist” and it included a paperback picture book about Monet. The art projects were a Land Art sculpture (foam block, pipe cleaners, feathers, buttons); a Create-Your-Own Impressionist Masterpiece kit (oil pastels); and a rather cool Pop Art T-Shirt kit that included a white cotton shirt, fabric paints and brushes, and a foam stencil for making a print. (That’s Rilla’s shirt up at the top of this post.)
Age range: The website says ages 3-6, but the box we sampled seemed most appropriate for the top of that range and maybe a little bit beyond. I know plenty of seven-year-olds who would enjoy these activities.
Cost: Single box: $39.99 (and while I was pleased with the quality of the materials, I have to say this strikes me as rather steep). Monthly subscription: $29.99/month. Annual subscription: $19.99/month, but you have to pay for the year up front.
Gift subscriptions available? Yes, same options and pricing as above.
3. KIWI CRATE.
Next to arrive was Kiwi Crate. This was one of my favorites of the subscription boxes we sampled — the crafts were clever and original, and we did a lot of giggling as we crafted. There was something to appeal to all my younger kids — my boys ages three and eight as well as six-year-old Rilla. Kiwi Crate’s angle is arts, crafts, and science projects, and I was impressed by the quality and inventiveness of the activities.
Sample contents: The theme for this particular box was “Robot Rally.” Projects included creating some robots (the little tin you see in the photo becomes the body of one of them), guiding your robot through a maze with a magnet wand, and other activities. The materials were great: scissors, metallic markers, gluestick, clothespins, stickers, paper shapes for decorating your robot, and project cards. As a busy mom of six, I appreciated not having to rustle up our own glue and scissors.
Age range: 3-7 years.
Cost: $19.95/month or $220/year. Add extra materials for a sibling for $7.95/month.
Gift subscriptions available? Yes: three-, six-, and twelve-month options; or you can send a gift card in various amounts.
4. LITTLE PASSPORTS.
Little Passports is a geography-based adventure kit. There’s a World version and a new USA edition. Both versions have a narrative storyline; each month you’re following characters Sam and Sofia on their travels around the world or across the United States. In the USA edition, your first month is a traveler’s starter kit, and each month after that, Sam and Sofia visit two different states.
Sample contents: The USA starter kit contained a disposable camera, a United States field guide, a USA scratch art book, and a map. Subsequent months will include a travel journal, stickers, postcards, pop-out models, and access to online activities.
Age range: 7-12 years. (The World edition is aimed at 5-10-year-olds.)
Cost: 3-month and 6-month options are $13.95/month. A 12-month plan billed all at once is $10.95/month.
Gift subscriptions available? Yes.
5. GREEN KID CRAFTS.
Last but certainly not least — I’m ending on a strong note — is Green Kid Crafts. As the name suggests, this company has an eco bent, and they promise minimal packaging and recycled materials where possible:
“Some of our favorite green products include recycled felt, recycled paper, and recycled ribbon. We also love to include natural materials like wool yarn, colored sand, clay, canvas, noodles, cruelty-free feathers, shells, jute twine, cotton fabrics, and wood. We avoid craft foams and plastics and provide instructions that are intended as a jumping-off point for kids.”
Their crafts kits have a nature-and-science flavor that suits my family very well. Of all the subscription boxes I looked at, Green Kid Crafts is the one I’d be most likely to subscribe to myself. I liked the abundance and quality of the materials, the unique crafts, and the educational angle. The art projects were truly original and appealed to the very wide age range I’m working with in this big family.
Sample contents: The Dinosaur Discovery box contained three projects: “Prehistoric Puzzle Pet” (3-D wooden dino puzzle, mini stamp pad, recycled corks for stamping; quite cool); “Fossil + Bonus Dino Sculpture” (paper pulp clay, a new experience for my gang; noodles, recycled paper, wooden matchsticks for creating two projects); and “Dinosaur Tail” (felt, stickers, ribbon).
Age range: I’d say 3-8 or thereabouts. The felt dino tail was just right for my three-year-old; the other projects appealed to my six- and eight-year-olds, and even the eleven-year-old was intrigued.
Cost: $19.50/month for one kid, $29.50/month for two; annual subscriptions for $214.50 (one kid) or $334.50 (two kids).
Gift subscriptions available? Yes, in three-, six-, and twelve-month options. They also offer less expensive single-box craft kits, including a holiday-themed one.
Bottom line is: all five of these subscription services were genuine kid-pleasers in my household, and I loved the ready-made opportunities to do some art with my little ones. And I totally know what my goddaughter is getting for Christmas.
Sample boxes provided for review. Coming up next: artsy-craftsy subscription boxes for adults.