Mamas, have you heard of these things? These by-mail subscription packages where a box of kid-friendly projects (for ages 3-7) is delivered to your house?
They. Are. Awesome. And perfect if you (like me) are dreading the after-Christmas influx of crappy toys. (Really, we don’t have the room.) Instead of _____ (fill in the blank with annoying toy), how ’bout the relatives get your littles something that is not only super-crazy-fun but also helps to keep you sane during the dark days of winter? A win-win if ever there was one, Mamas.
I had the opportunity to try two of them: Wonder Box and Kiwi Crate. Which one is best for you? Here are my thoughts on each…
We received our Wonder Box first. Both boys freaked out – it was like Christmas came early. Wonder Box sent us the Once Upon a Time box. This box contained three projects:
1. A Story Cape – you draw (with the included fabric crayons) on the provided cape
2. Build Your Own Puppet – they included all of the supplies shown below, as well as a bottle of glue
3. Story Cards – you use the hand-drawn cards to make up a story together
Wonder Box is geared to the 3-6 year old crowd, but Pax (age 2) was also loving it. Which is something that I wasn’t counting on (silly me). So there was only one cape, one bottle of glue, one puppet…but enough other supplies that we could make it work.
But here’s what I really appreciated: Everything worked. Really, really well. The fabric crayons were nice and dark on the fabric. The glue bottle was easy to squeeze (even for Pax). The assortment of puppet-making supplies was varied enough to be exciting.
In terms of longevity…the puppet didn’t last long. Not surprising, for felt and glue. And both boys were totally uninterested in the story cards – I put them away for another day. But the cape? That Pax scribbled on and Raines drew a “dreadful tank” on? That baby is still in play:
You can order one month’s worth of Wonder Box here for $25, or three for $60 (always free shipping and they don’t do that annoying auto-renew).
Like Wonder Box, Kiwi Crate has various subscription packages, for identical prices (the individual Kiwi Crate is $20 + $5 shipping…so $25 total, just like Wonder Box). There are a couple of key differences, however:
A. In addition to the monthly box, Kiwi Crate offers specialized boxes. These include a nice supply of holiday-themed boxes, as well as a space hero box (geared towards boys) and a fairy box (for girls). Additionally, they offer mini crates ($5-$12) that can be used for birthday parties, etc.
B. The biggest difference? Kiwi Crate offers a sibling option, for an additional $8 per crate. And Mamas, it is $8 well spent.
We were sent the December box, with the sibling add-on. It contained:
1. Penguin bowling – decorate cardboard penguins, then set them up and bowl with the balls provided
2. Aurora postcards – decorate thick postcards with watercolors and oil pastels
3. Ice Experiments – use the included silicon tray and booklet to perform a set of experiments on ice
Like Wonder Box, I loved the high-quality materials. The scissors (two of them!!) were Fiskars – the only scissors worth buying, in my opinion. The watercolors (two packs) were Sargent, the oil pastels were Pentel. As someone who is insanely picky about her art supplies (even her kid’s art supplies) I loved that both Kiwi Crate and Wonder Box are committed to high quality products.
The boys were mad about penguin bowling. I was surprised at how long they spent decorating the penguins – with mainly stickers and a black marker. Although, to prolong the process, I busted out colored pens and crayons to keep their creative juices flowing.
Can you tell which penguins are Pax’s?
The postcards were also a big hit. Which wasn’t surprising – both of my guys love to paint. Raines is currently having trouble sending the postcards however, because he “loves them too much”. Christmas is doing a number on him, poor thing. The emphasis on getting (“what do you want from Santa??) is just overwhelming. Pax studiously worked to turn his watercolor pad into one big mess of brown. But you know, playing is learning, so that’s OK. Thank goodness he had his own set. R would’ve freaked out.
In terms of longevity…we now have a couple of pairs of scissors, balls, silicon ice molds, watercolors and a set of oil pastels that will last a loooong time. And those darn cardboard penguins, now the bane of my existence, are still providing a ton of fun.
(Happily) Sadly, they are becoming slightly bent and broken down, so their days are numbered. Such is the life with two boys under 5.
Which Box is Best?
So here’s the deal: If you have more than one kid, Kiwi Crate’s sibling option is pretty hard to beat. Not that you can’t work it with only one box, but the extra materials makes your life a lot easier (Wonder Box, are you listening?).
The main difference between the two boxes (and this is just my opinion, obviously) is this:
Wonder Boxes seem to be geared more to academic learning: our box focused heavily on reading preparedness (storytelling)…and other boxes are heavy into science (I’m totally intrigued by the box that has you grow your own greenhouse in a balloon).
Kiwi Crates, on the other hand, has some of that as well, but their focus tends to be more art/exploration related. Even their science-heavy crates (grow your own garden, for example) contains at least one art-based project (decorate a pot with colored clay).
For someone like me, who is trying to entertain both an almost-5 year old and a 2 year old…the extra dose of open-ended exploration provided by Kiwi Crate is crucial. While Raines did love his Wonder Box, Kiwi Crate did a better job of providing fun for both Raines and my littlest guy (who, admittedly, isn’t in their target age range). It really depends on your goals as a parent.
But Mamas, you can’t go wrong. Both Wonder Box and Kiwi Crate will inspire creativity and provoke your kid’s curiosity in really fun ways. Just go with your gut. These boxes ‘o fun are perfect for rainy (or super cold) days, or – even better – extended stays over the holidays. You bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be ordering one (or more) over the holidays. It’ll keep the crazy boys a bit calmer at Nana & Grandpa’s. And that, my dears, is priceless.
ps. I was sent, gratis, a box ‘o fun from each company to try. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. I just love, love, love these products.
pps. Want more gift ideas? How about some high-quality musical instruments for kids (we did this last year – click the link for pics of our rockin’ Christmas morning), our hands-down favorite blocks and building toys (don’t forget about these gorgeous blocks), or these toys you’ve probably never heard of?
Thank you! Just ordered a box for my 4 and 5 year olds. Your review was super helpful and I am so excited to get this!
I so wish they had something like this for older kiddos- my guys are 6 and 8. They would LOVE something like this- and so would I. I am all about experiences and creating versus “stuff”. That being said, this is going to be a great birthday gift for some littler ones I know!!!
These are a great deal!! My mom was “the best grandma ever” yesterday by sending a box like these companies provide….She made it herself for my kids…. Even with going to the dollar store, she was over $25 with shipping it to us. Thinking these will be on our birthday wish lists for sure!
Thanks for the reviews!! 🙂
Thanks for the reviews! Signed up for the Kiwi Crates for my 4 yr old. Have you heard of any of these subscription services that are geared towards the 8 and up crowd? I signed my 4 month old up for the Little Pnuts subscription and now that I’m trying the Kiwi Crates for my 4 yr old I’m pretty sure my 8 yr old is going to feel left out! : )
I have had a kiwi crate subscription for my now 3.5 year old for the past year. (Excellent grandparent Christmas present!) It has been a huge hit and gives us something different to look forward to each month. I usually try to extend the life of each crate by spreading the projects out over 2-3 days. The only problem I’ve encountered is that sometimes the projects require a much higher level of dexterity than the typical 3 year old possesses, so I end up doing a large portion of those projects myself while the little dude “supervises”. Otherwise, I highly recommend!
These crafts look awesome! I have to ask, where did you get your child size table and chairs? They are so cute!
Amanda – One of my good friends just signed up for the Magic School Bus science kits. She says they are pretty good…you can find links to them (and another option) here: http://theyoungscientistsclub.com/
Chelsea – they are just Circo, from Target! I painted the top with chalkboard paint after it got all scratched/messed up.
Target no longer carries them…but I kinda like this one. It’s a little different, but still has a modern feel, and would look cute with chalkboard paint as well.
Sing it, Kam. Last I checked, both Kiwi and Wonder boxes were sold out for the holidays, so I tried to recreate at Michael’s. $60 later….UGH.
(And now they are back in stock. I’m am RETURNING my Michael’s crap!)
Beth – did you see my comment above? Check this out: http://theyoungscientistsclub.com/
I’d love to know what you think….
Yay! Thanks, Emily!
Thanks for the feedback, Heather!
I have been getting Kiwi Crate on and off for a bit over a year now and I LOVE it! I have tried a bunch of the other monthly boxes and this one is by far my favorite (a couple others are close seconds). I have a 5 and 3 year old and they both get super into it.
This is a helpful review, comparing Kiwi Crate to Wonderbox. We received our first Kiwi Crate in December and loved it a lot for my 4yo, and surprisingly my 2yo also had fun. I’m going to do the sibling add-on for the next box since she will want to be involved and a few more materials = good.
Part of me wonders if I could just take the $20 (or now $28, as it were) and get a great craft book (know of any?) and materials myself…but the quality of materials is excellent, the ideas are fun and age-appropriate…so really how much money would I save, if anything?
I also liked their extension activities and web links. We finished out the Arctic Adventure by watching some penguin-themed movies on Netflix and reading some wintery books.
Kacie – thanks for the feedback! It just so happens that I recently created my own kiwi box type crate. Both kiwi and wonder box completely sold out right before the holidays, so I hit Michaels and the dollar store to create my own. $60 later, I had an awesome crate put together. Sigh. For $20-$30, I would've been able to include a project or two….but not as many diverse projects as the ones that show up in the crates. I'm sure with more effort and time I could've done better…but I was pretty impressed with both wonder box and kiwi crate after that. 🙂
Sent from my iPhone
Hi S! Just want to thank you for the review. I ordered the Kiwi crate to have some fun projects over winter break. Jack loved them. Penguin bowling was a big hit. He also loved all the ice experiments. Just want to mention on the Kiwi crate website they have a ton of great craft and project ideas. Their Pinterest site is fab and has kept us busy with projects through the looonnnggg winter break!
Wow! This is exactly a review I was looking for! Thanks a ton! I cant wait to get our Kiwi Crate! I was nervous about how “worth it” it would be but this answered my questions 🙂
weird, i just went to look for wonder box, and the site says they are no longer available! it recommends kiwi crate! they must have JUST went out of business because i’m posting this in March 2013, and you posted this in Dec 2012! http://www.education.com/wonder-box/moving/
Love your review! We ordered a one-time Kiwi Crate to see what we thought and whether it was a good fit for our three-year-old, and I had many of the same thoughts. I was completely amazed by the amount of creative time she got out of ONE box. She took the projects and spun them into new and interesting things — we got the Safari box, and now have an entire zoo of homes in our front window, each crafted for one of the animals she found in the box. What great projects!
BYDWYR is the excellent website helpful in enhancing the creative learning and games for the children. Our main aim is to establish the learning in kids by providing them creative children’s baby story games & books online.
I ordered a subscription from Kiwico.com and my son received one box. After a month passed and the second box had not arrived, I sent them an email. After a week, nothing. I sent another email and waited. Nothing. I called and stayed on hold for 2 hours. The system said it would call me back. It never did. You can also not remove your credit card to prevent automatic billing. My advice is stay away. Not worth the trouble.