We tried a toy subscription box for preschoolers—is it worth it?
We tried Sago Mini's Montessori-inspired kits to find out.
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No matter how many toys a kid has, throw something new, shiny, and different in front of them, and they’ll always be drawn to it. The goal as parents is to make sure those shiny things are safe, durable, and somewhat educational. Parental bonus points are also awarded if those toys are creative, crafty, affordable, and socially conscious.
It’s a hefty burden, especially given the challenges so many parents are already facing. Wouldn’t it be great if brainy, cute, and mostly assembled toys just arrived at your door? Enter the Sago Mini Box, a service that aims to solve those issues.
What is the Sago Mini Box?
A monthly subscription box aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds, the Sago Mini Box was created by self-described “parents, programmers, artists, dogs, designers, and kids-at-heart who believe in the power of play.” Monthly boxes center around themes like fairy tales, the forest, and planes, and—in the company’s words—are meant to inspire “open-ended play and creative learning,” with the goal of creating experiences that “grow minds, spark creativity, and get giggles.”
How much does the Sago Mini Box cost?
Subscribers can go month-to-month for $19 a box, or pay for one year of boxes (12 total) for $180. New subscribers can use the coupon code 10FIRSTBOX to get their first box for $10.
Shipping is $3 extra per box, per month.
What’s in a Sago Mini box?
While the contents of the box depend on the theme, each box comes with three or so cute, crafty activities aimed at stimulating toddler brains, as well as a high-quality collectible figurine tied to the month’s theme. There are also letters from Sago’s characters attached to each activity, each of which roughly explains the concept of the activity.
What is Sago Mini like in real life?
For the purposes of this review, we were shipped two boxes to test out with our twin toddlers: “Robots” and “Ocean Swimmer.”
Robots contained three activities:
- Puzzle Bots: Puzzle pieces shaped like different colored robot parts (heads, legs, etc.) that kids can either put together by color or mix to make their own creations. Our kids liked this activity best, and thought the idea of, say, a robot with a chef’s head and a guitar leg was just hilarious.
- Dress Up Bot: A slightly flimsy cardboard robot costume meant for the stuffed animal of your choice. This one was fun to figure out—especially since we did it around Halloween—but our toddlers tore one of the cardboard shoes almost instantly, and the play didn’t really progress beyond carrying the doll around. A more advanced toddler or more robot-crazed toddler might be able to take it farther, though.
- Dance Bot: A series of durable cardboard gears you can attach to the Sago Mini box with provided dowel pieces to make a robot whose arms and legs move back and forth. Our kids were more interested in this when we removed the arms and legs and added additional provided gears, which they could sit and spin for 5 to10 minutes at a time.
Our Robots box also contained “Engineer Hugbot,” a solid plastic robot that’s about 3 inches tall.
Our Ocean Swimmer box, on the other hand, contained a cute little fish figure named “Fins” with color-changing capabilities, as well as four entirely different activities:
- A Whale House: Cardboard furniture you can assemble and then place inside the inside-out box as a home for “Fins.” (Our kids didn’t really get this one.)
- A cardboard shark hand puppet, which was extremely minimal (one piece of cardboard, folded in three, plus an insertable fin), but our kids seemed to enjoy well enough.
- A cardboard “snorkel mask” that you can attach to a piece of flexible clear plastic that you stick fish stickers on. The overall effect is meant to give snorkel-wearers the impression that they are underwater.
- A magnetic fishing activity themed around ocean cleanup, which tasks kids with getting various pieces of cute cardboard trash (a crushed can, a toilet paper roll, a piece of poop, and so on) off of a paper “sea” mat.
While a few of the activities required a little more parental finesse than toddler creativity—assembling the dancing robot, for instance, or making sure the snorkel mask’s elastic fit our kids’ heads—just the act of sitting with them to create and figure something out together felt productive. Our kids are on the younger end of Sago’s target age range, so we can only imagine what kids closer to kindergarten would be able to do with some of these projects.
We found that our toddlers most appreciated the activities in the box when they were doled out one at a time. We figured this out after a brief interlude in which we opened both of the boxes, only to be overwhelmed with pieces and parts, stickers and assemblies. When we picked one activity—the robot puzzle, for instance—our kids could focus on it for a longer period of time, like 20 to 30 minutes, which, for toddlers, isn’t bad. We kept the other activities out of sight, and then brought them out individually when we needed to throw something new into the mix, or just wanted to break up some burgeoning bits of bad kiddo energy. All in all, we probably got three or four hours of playtime out of the two boxes, which is pretty good—especially considering we’ll be returning to some of the activities down the road.
Given that all of the materials in the box, save the figures, are made of recyclable paper products, your mileage may vary in terms of durability. Some of the items in our boxes were cute, but not durable enough for two rough and tumble toddlers: The robot costume didn’t make it through the afternoon, and the snorkel mask was stepped on in short order. With a little care, though, we can probably keep the robot puzzles and ocean cleanup activity in our toy rotation. The plastic figurines, while cute, will probably just go in a bin with a bunch of other little similarly-sized figures that our kids play with occasionally.
Should you sign up for Sago Mini?
While Sago Mini Boxes might not stand up to rough play, the relatively low cost of entry and frankly adorable design make them a fun way to engage with young kids. Parents will appreciate the suggestions for play and thoughtful details like the way each activity is packaged separately in its own cute little envelope or box, and kids will love getting something entirely new to play with in the mail.
Every activity in every box might not be a home run, but the discussions and learning they can inspire—talking about why it’s important to keep garbage out of the ocean, for instance, or seeing how gears work—make Sago Mini Boxes a worthwhile investment for busy parents who might need a few tips from time to time.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.