2.05.2014

How to Choose a Kids Subscription Box


It is a sad day here in the Miller household.  My beloved BabbaBox sent an email saying they are no longer going to do a monthly subscription.  (They say big exciting changes are coming, but I want a monthly subscription and that is going away!) So now begins the quest to find a replacement.

We already subscribe to Little Passports, but it is so focused on geography that it's not going to fill the void left by BabbaBox.  But my daughter does love it!

What I'm Looking For

What I loved about BabbaBox, as compared to other boxes out there for kids (and check out my BabbaBox reviews to see examples of these characteristics):

(1) Emphasis on Play: The emphasis was on creative play and not on crafts, numbers/letters, science, or math.  I think kids in the 3-5 age range that mine are in should be focused on creative play and that's how they'll learn those concepts.

(2) Not too Crafty, But a Little Crafty: There were crafts, but they were crafts that led to creative play.  For example, one month we decorated a treasure chest, filled it with gold coins, then hid it in the house and went on treasure hunts.  The kids still use the chest and coins as part of their play.

(3) Easy to Complete: Nothing was too complicated for my kids to do almost by themselves.  I did a Kiwi Crate subscription through a Plum District deal and was overwhelmed by how much stuff was in the boxes (lots of small parts, etc.) and I had to do many of the steps for my kids, who really wanted to do it themselves.

(4) Includes a Book: Every month included a book (and they were great books).  This one is huge for me. It was so fun to read a book that went along with the box's theme.

(5) Age Range: My kids are 3 and 5, so I'd something that could work for both of them. BabbaBox was perfect, with an age range of 3-7 (sob!).

(6) App Included: We don't buy a lot of apps around here, so having a new one each month was a fun treat associated with the BabbaBox.

The Options

Part of the reason I started this blog was to share my obsessive compulsive research with others.  Here are the boxes I looked at in my search for a BabbaBox replacement, but this research will come in handy for anyone looking for a kids craft and activity subscription box.

1.  Kiwi Crate - this is the one that is most often recommended, but it's too crafty for me.  Too many pieces, no book.  They almost changed my mind with their last box, which included a stage for storytelling and playing. However, there's no way my kids can do the crafts on their own and that really bugs them.

2.  Appleseed Lane - this one is relatively new and has an emphasis on science and math.  I'm not sure if that's exactly what I'm looking for and it doesn't include a book, but it is definitely hands on, which is appealing.

3.  Green Kid Crafts - Craft projects and science projects, age range of 3-8 is great, too.  This one has a great price, but again, it's just crafts.

4.  The Happy Trunk - Craft projects and a science kit.  The age range of 3-7 is perfect, but again, too crafty for what I'm looking for, I think.

5.  M is for Monster - I'm not interested in what are essentially worksheets for kids, with some craft projects and games thrown in.  They will do enough of that when they get to Kindergarten! The age range is too young for my 5 year old, too.

6.  Kelly Kits - these are only art projects, so not what I'm looking for, but their website is adorable!

7.  Little Fun Club - now this is tempting because it's a box full of books and puzzles.  I have to remember I am looking for crafts and creative play projects, though, and keep looking!

8.  Little Thinker Box - more worksheets.  Sigh.  I'm giving up hope that there's anything out there like BabbaBox.

9. Mission UnBoxable - This is a kit of everything you need for a mystery or top secret mission.  Such a darn cute idea, but I think a little narrow in scope for us.

10.  SparkPlay - No book included her, but I think we might have a winner.  The price is right at 19.99 per month for a monthly subscription.  All the projects can be set up and put away in 90 seconds and they offer a Sibling Add On. They are speaking my language when they say the kits are "play with purpose” focused on play-based learning techniques.  The age range is also perfect at 3-7!  Maybe I could supplement it with Kiwi Crate or Kelly Kits to get the crafty aspect that this is missing.

11. StoryCraft - Oh wait, maybe this one is the winner!  It includes a book (check), crafts (check), and web based activities for enrichment (check).  But it's not a subscription service!  Darn.  I need to hit the easy button and just have it show up once a month, plus I like the discount on each box that I can get with an annual subscription.  So close.

12.  Xplore Box - This one has an age range that's a bit high, but I'll keep it in mind for the future.  It focuses on STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math) activities for kids 7-12.

13. Foldigo - there really is a box for everyone.  This box includes a short story, foldable characters, and a foldable pop out background for play.  Not what I'm looking for, but very unique!

14.  My Giggle Box - this looks promising, but it costs 30 bucks a month if you want them to include a book (which I do).  The Ultimate Membership includes 2-3 crafts and activities, The Giving Project (?), Activity Sheets (?), Outdoor Adventures (?), Parent & Me (?), Fun Facts (?), 1 Recipe Card, and a book. This sounds great, but all those question marks are there because I have no idea what those items are describing. The website isn't terribly professional and they have less than 1000 likes on Facebook.  When I look at this review, it just doesn't have the cool and fun look that BabbaBox had, but the activities look fun.  Not sold on this one, but it's a contender.

15. Gickey Box - while this one actually might be the closest to BabbaBox (minus the food and add in a recipe for kitchen fun), is hating the name a good enough reason not to subscribe?  Another stumbling block with this one is that the age brackets are small, so I couldn't get one box that was appropriate for both kids.  Pass.

16. Surprise Ride - Um, I don't want to get my hopes up, but I think this might be the one! Each box includes: (1) All the supplies needed to complete projects that explore the month’s theme; (2) A book, a snack, and other fun surprises to go along with the ride; and (3) a Surprise Ride booklet with lessons on the theme, interesting facts, and ways to continue the exploration. The only draw back is that the box is for kids 6-11. My daughter is almost 6 and I looked a bunch of past boxes to see if he would enjoy them.  I think he would, so this one is a go!

17. Space Scouts - sort of like Little Passports in space. This subscription focuses on STEM subjects and fosters a love of space and science for the 6 and up set. Check out my review here.

18. Animal Trackers - this is a reading skills box aimed at pre-readers (3 and up) with an emphasis on learning about animals on safari.

19. Peekapak - This is a big contender against surprise ride. It includes storybook, challenges, and 2-3 crafts. Nothing can be perfect, so the drawback for me here is that the storybook is a Peekapak-character themed book instead of a published book. I might have to try it out....

20. Kidstir - How cute is this one? It's a cooking kit for kids that includes a kit of delicious recipes, kid-size tools,games, and a premium ingredient.

[Updated 7/17/14 to add numbers 17-20]

Finally.  Did I miss any great boxes?  Are there any you would add to the list?


{This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy here.}

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