Product Review: Subscription Boxes

I’ve ordered several subscription kits for my daughter now, and I wanted to give a brief review of each in case other parents out there were looking at them. The products I’ll review in this post are: Little Passports: Early Explorers and World Editions, Highlights: Top Secret Adventures, and Kiwi Crate.

Little Passports: Early Explorers

From the manufacturer:
Every month, your preschooler will receive a package in the mail filled with fun activities, educational toys, stickers, trading cards, and learning games. Each package has a unique theme (like Art, Music or Food) and teaches your child about the world! For example, the Oceans package contains an educational fishing game that teaches children about different sea creatures, a salt water science experiment, and a beautifully illustrated booklet that has fun facts about each of the world’s oceans – along with the stickers, trading cards and other bonus materials that come in every package. Each package is carefully designed to make learning fun and engaging for young toddlers and preschoolers.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
My daughter loved this subscription! She would get so excited to find her passport envelope in the mail, and we would spend hours looking through the contents. Each month had a different theme, like art, food, architecture, money, animals. And each theme would have examples from all over the world. There were hands-on activities like building puppets or playing a fishing game, each unique and engaging. Then there was a booklet with simple puzzles like mazes and spot-the-difference pictures. Honestly, the puzzles were well below my daughter’s level (that’s where this kit lost its 5th star). I understand the age range makes it hard to offer a challenge to the advanced while not stumping those who aren’t quite there, but I felt they were entirely too simple. There was also a postcard with a cultural reference, a letter from Max, Mia, and Toby (our traveling companions), a flashlight adventure that reviewed information learned in that months package and offered a clue to the next month’s theme. Then there were stickers that my daughter could put in her passport, on her “suitcase”, and on the heavy-duty map they sent. All and all, I’d say this subscription was well worth the money.

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Little Passports: World Edition

From the manufacturer:
Pull out your world map and explore a new country every month with World Edition! Every month, we send a package that helps your child “travel” the world alongside our characters Sam and Sofia, who travel by magic scooter and send goodies from each place they visit. Your child will receive a letter from Sam and Sofia describing their journey through the country, that inspires their imagination. They’ll also receive a souvenir that educates children about the country’s history, and activity booklets where your child will play learning games, recognize world geography, explore new recipes, and learn fun facts about the country.

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
After the fun we had with the Early Explorer subscription from Little Passports, I jumped right into the World Edition assuming they would be just as engaging. I was wrong. The “activity booklets” consisted of one cultural reference, usually a recipe, and one or two simple puzzles like a word search or letter scramble. They took about five minutes to finish. The “souvenirs” are cheap, not a high enough quality to justify the expense of the subscription. There are some online activities you can access, but my daughter showed little enthusiasm for them and I don’t really like just putting her in front of a screen (I certainly don’t need to pay to do that). The world map was not the durable, glossy paper from the Early Explorer edition, but simple paper that I’m afraid will not last. There was also a passport and country stickers to mark where we’ve been similar to what was in the other edition. When the package comes in the mail, we dump the contents, read the letter, do a puzzle, and we’re done. It doesn’t hold my daughter’s attention, and therefore doesn’t create the same kind of excited anticipation as the Early Explorer edition did. All in all, this is a great concept, but they need to put more effort into what they are sending to make it worth while.

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Highlights: Top Secret Adventures

From the manufacturer:
A Mysterious, Worldwide Detective Game for Kids!
Your child can explore the world, capture a villain, solve a mystery and still be home in time for dinner with Highlights Top Secret Adventures club!
Each mystery kit is a kid’s world travel guide, puzzle challenge and detective game all rolled into one.
The carefully designed activities, games, puzzles, facts and photographs bring the wonders of the world to your child one country at a time.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This kit is slightly above my daughter’s level at the time of this writing, but that’s to be expected since it’s recommended for children 7+ and she just turned 6. However, with the exception of a little help researching answers in the country guide book, she has taken to it with great enthusiasm. The work book is a collection of puzzles that range from mazes and word searches to math problems and pattern recognition. There are pages that require you to find information from the guide book included with the kit so that the child must read about the country they are exploring to find the answer. (This is the part I have to help with since it’s above her reading level.) The kit also comes with a handful of colored cards depicting possible villains, a world map on thick, durable paper, and a high-quality key ring to commemorate each country you “visit.” The idea of making the child a secret agent on a mission is a great way to get  kids engaged and excited, and the variety of puzzles ensures that enthusiasm carries through. All in all, money well spent.

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Kiwi Crate

From the manufacturer:
What you get:
Maker Project
Hands-on fun to explore art, science, and engineering
Creative LearningCreative Learning
High-quality materials and kid-friendly instructions and ideas for tinkering
explore! Magazine
Extend the fun with comics, experiments, and games
Online DIY IdeasOnline DIY Ideas
Online tutorials with tips and tricks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
We got a 3-month subscription of Kiwi Crate as a birthday gift, and it was great! The three boxes we received were My Body, Secret Agent, and Arcade. With school starting, I think I’ll take a little break, but I will definitely buy more of these boxes in the near future. Each box contained a magazine with a comic, experiments, and educational information. Then there were several hands-on projects to create and explore. There’s also a weekly email that includes fun puzzles and projects to do on your own.
As an example: The first box we got was the body science box. It included materials to stitch together plushy organs of the brain, heart, and stomach, which could then be attached to a life-sized poster of a person that showed various systems like digestive, skeletal, nervous, etc. There was light-sensitive paper and instructions for making “x-rays.” There was a dry-erase chart and pen so my daughter could give check-ups and collect information. There was material to build a working stethoscope from scratch. And there were instructions to build a working model of a lung from household objects. The contents of that one box kept us busy for weeks, and we had so much fun! My daughter is very proud of all the things she built and has them on display around the house. I’d highly recommend this kit for kids who love hands on projects.

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Other products I’ve looked into that I would love to try out:

Tinker Crate

Green Kids Crafts

BitsBox

Stem Reads Book Club

 

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