12 kids subscription boxes that got us through quarantine
You can't beat age-appropriate activities delivered right to your door.
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Over the past year of being stuck at home we've had the opportunity to try out a lot of kids subscription boxes. After all, when everything is closed and you're desperate for age appropriate, screen-free entertainment, you can't beat a box full of cool crafts and activities showing up at your front door.
These are the 12 kids subscription boxes that helped our families get through a year of quarantine—and that we'll still love even when (if?) life ever goes back to normal.
1. A kit that teaches fancy tie dye
Similar to tie-dye, Shibori is traditionally made using the dye from the Indigo plant. Terra Create simplifies the process by including a fiber-reactive dye that bonds to the fabric and is safe for a toddler to chew on. Terra Create is geared towards kids 8-to-12 who are looking for a real-world, adult-like craft experience. We had a wonderful time with this project and the finished pillow covers are gorgeous.
2. A kit to inspire young girls
Designed specifically with girls in mind (though boys will enjoy it too), Girls Can Crate wants to inspire children by sharing stories of empowered women. Our crate activities were inspired by Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to the environment—specifically planting trees. My daughter and I both enjoyed learning about Maathai and the corresponding planting activity was a creative tie-in. The scientific method was plain and clear: You plant two seed-pots and place one in full sun and the other in shade, then observe and record daily changes.
Essential to the Girls Can Crate experience is the included pamphlet. It provides information about your monthly super woman, a word scramble around the theme, MadLibs, matching games, and a paper doll. There was an emphasis on taking care of the earth, and the second craft was an upcycled wind chime that used bottle caps, bells, paper clips and a jar lid. The kit provided everything shiny and new, but you get the idea that a child could collect these things and reuse them to make a second wind chime later on.
There's also a digital component to the Girls Can Crate subscription—ours linked to a video of a sprouting seed—and I was inspired by the layered lessons that this box provides. I also love that the company donates a portion of the profits from every box sold to support nonprofit organizations.
The book Rad Women Worldwide celebrates accomplished women too, but the Girls Can Crate activities allow a child to interact with the information in a deep, thorough way. At age 8, my daughter was able to work with this box independently.
3. A kit that's all about crafts
Doodle Crate is a craft-focused version of the ever-popular Kiwi Crate. Geared for kids ages 9-to-16, a subscription to Doodle Crate provides a variety of fun projects. We tried out the faux leather portfolio project, which was a simple and satisfying activity consisting of sewing and decorating a cute leather pocket that is the perfect size for an iPad.
The kit included detailed written directions and a video link, both of which helped to foster independence. My daughter said that she was planning to start and finish the project in one sitting, but it ended up being more like two. The finished portfolio was impressive and useful.
4. A kit that teaches kids to cross stitch
A monthly subscription kit designed by the founder of Spot Your Colors, the Rag Tag Box is a wonderful way to develop cross stitch skills. The brightly colored thread, the fabric, and the design all interested my daughter from the outset. The directions were clear and we found a link to a Spot Your Colors video to start us off. We searched further and found another video with a kid-friendly way of threading the needle and knotting the thread before beginning to sew.
I like this activity because it fosters patience and works on fine motor skills, but be warned that this is not one that gets finished quickly. My daughter likes it but can only do a little at a time before she finds it tedious. At first she thought it was too hard, but after a short pep talk and a little parental assistance, she overcame her self doubt and went from kind of grouchy to smiling and feeling “good.”
5. A kit that blends art and literature
Kid Art Lit is meant to engage young readers with beautiful books and a thoughtfully related craft. The ideal age range for this kit is probably 3-to-7, nevertheless my 8-year-old enjoyed the books and had fun with the art project. We didn't already own the books—The Seedling and How The Stars Came To Be—which I feel is too often the case with book boxes (we have a lot of books). I liked that the art kit included enough supplies for two kids, so my daughter could do it with a friend, and the materials were environmentally friendly and of good quality. We love this sweet box.
Even more reasons to order a Kid Art Lit Box: A percentage of the sales is donated to One Tree Planted and each box is packed and shipped by CSS, a nonprofit that employs adults with developmental disabilities. Each box is recyclable and reusable.
6. A kit for budding artists
Paletteful Packs are art supply kits meant to inspire creativity. The contents of this box are top-notch and offer the chance to experiment with new and fun materials. Each monthly Paletteful Pack box includes a thematic selection of art supplies—ours was focused on creating scratch art—and a quick google search led to easy tutorials. My daughter was interested in the process and learned about shading, and she also loved adding the coloring inks to her scratch art masterpiece. If you have a kid who is a budding artist, they will flip for Paletteful Packs.
7. A kit for kids who want to knit
Hearts on Fiber is meant to excite both the expert knitter and the rising knitter alike. The yarn in this box is so special and the hand-dyed wool makes you want to start the project right away. The needles feel good and the cat-eared stitch markers are like jewelry. There are only 60 Hearts on Fiber boxes available every month, and the boxes alternate between knitting and crochet projects.
My daughter did not know how to knit before we tried Hearts on Fiber, so we sat together and passed the project back and forth. We alternated rows and it was a fun way to work together and for me to share skills. This is a great subscription if you already know how to knit because each month you get a unique skein of yarn and a simple project to work (some stitches would challenge a beginner). If you are new to knitting, this box is a wonderful way to make a one-skein scarf each month. In other words, a brand new knitter can ignore the project and make a skinny scarf while developing the skills to move on to the included patterns.
8. A kit with a focus on Black innovators
The focus of Brown Toy Box is inspiring young Black innovators. With three different age levels—4-to-6, 6-to-8, and 9-to-12—Brown Toy Box is great for kids who need more STEAM projects and activities. Each Brown Toy Box includes toys, books, games, and a branded T-shirt sized for your particular child.
Our box included the Blokko Ancient Sphinx building set and a memory match game on Black inventors. Bricktropolis, and a scholastic book titled Five Brilliant Scientists rounded out the box and my daughter got so much out of it. She read the books to our neighbor and struggled to build the Sphinx by herself. As a white mother, I am interested in creating space for non-white perspectives, and I loved the activities and lessons included in Brown Toy Box.
9. A kit for beginning bakers
Baketivity boxes are meant to encourage family time with simple, wholesome ingredients and fun cooking projects. Our "Positivity Cookie Project" included almost everything we needed to whip up some delicious cookies—all we had to add was one egg and some coconut oil to the pre-measured ingredients.
The kids were excited to have complete independence, and they loved mixing and kneading and cutting out the cookies with the included cookie cutter. They enjoyed smashing the candy to bits, mixed them all up and enjoyed watching the solid candy turn to liquid and then cool to a crunchy sheer center. The dough was yummy, but the kids didn’t love the candy center—maybe due to mixing all of the flavors.
The kit included a Baketivity-branded chef’s hat and apron which the kids were not interested in, however they were absolutely interested in the message of positivity, an overall plea to embrace differences, come together, and respect one another.
10. A kit that brings magic to your front door
Owl Crate Jr. kits kit contain “Magic in every box” and are designed for readers ages 8-to-12. Our Owl Crate Jr. crate included an autographed copy of Quintessence by Jess Redman. It came with a booklet where the presence of the author is wonderful—she shares her personal connections to the story, and asks a few questions to encourage the reader. There was also an interview and a bookmark that looks like a map, as well as some book-related keepsakes that tied into the story (ours included fairy dust). I love these details that help the child make connections and engage the book, and my daughter really enjoyed the book.
11. A kit that delivers the world
Little Global Citizens is one our favorite subscription kits for kids. Each box brings a new country right to your child's front door, and it's filled with crafts, activities, and even a picture book. We've "visited" Kenya, Peru, England, and China over the course of the past year of quarantine, and it's been a great way for our kids to learn about other cultures and countries—and add a few destinations to our "must go" list once we can travel freely again.
12. A kit that teaches kids to cook (and eat)
Turn the cooking duties over to your kids with a subscription to eat2explore. These kid-friendly culinary kits include three recipes, corresponding sauces, a kitchen utensil, and a sheet of fun facts about whatever cuisine is being prepared. If you're having a tough time getting your child to eat more than just plain pasta, eat2explore may inspire them to try new flavors. We tested the Japan-themed box, and our kids really enjoyed preparing—and eating—the teriyaki salmon that they made (mostly) by themselves.
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