Everywhere you turn as a parent you are warned about too much device time for your kids. Yet despite all the warnings, there are few realistic alternatives offered, leaving parents to figure it out as they go. So, I'm constantly researching and preparing activities for Gates, and was excited to try out Kiwi Crate, a themed monthly subscription for 3-8 year olds that includes all the materials and inspiration for two to three activities - art, science, games, imaginative play, and more.
We try to limit Gate's screen time. So, this means we need engaging, hands on activities at the ready--a tough order and why I'm always researching and creating ready-to-go activity kits ahead of time. But, honestly constantly coming up with engaging activities is tough. When cubes and Todd headed off to IKEA to pick up Gates' big girl bed, Gates and I cracked open her Kiwi Crate for over two hours of hands on play.
Before Gates and I sat down with the Kiwi Crate, I opened it to evaluate whether any of the activities would be too old for her or pieces truly a choking hazard. (I recommend all parents always examine toys and activities before their children as each child is different and manufacturers do not always get it right.) Both activities had small pieces and/or components that I didn't want Gates to accidentally put in her mouth (for example, the soil pellets). By getting an idea ahead of time of what was in the box, I was able to prepare workspaces where we could work safely. It turned out I really didn't need to worry about the soil as our indoor organic strawberry gardening project from last year had satisfied her taste for soil. She only wanted to poke the soil with one of the sticks.
I especially liked that each instruction booklet gave a rough idea of how much parent involvement would be needed and whether or not the activity was messy (allowed me to set up appropriate workspaces ahead of time). You can also see what skills the particular activity is building.
Because Gates is only 29 months old, not yet two and a half, I was paying attention to what she was doing and guiding when an activity didn't come easily the first try so there was more than minimal parental involvement. I loved how she didn't get frustrated and had a sense of accomplishment when she completed a task she initially thought she couldn't do without my help.
Because the instructions were clearly laid out with visuals, Gates was able to take the lead on how she wanted to tackle the project. She grouped all pieces for a given animal using the instruction pamphlet as a guide, an exercise in matching that she initiated. And she organized all her puppets in a row so that she could apply all of the googly eyes at once.
One thing that was a little disappointing, but expected at this point with activities for children, was that the main character for the box is a boy. The only company that gets this right is Highlights (their monthly Which Way USA puzzle book club features BOTH a girl and a boy). We haven't yet read the 16-page Explore! magazine (cubes and Todd returned with her bed first!) so I don't know how much of a role he plays in each month's crate. The activities themselves were gender neutral.
Special Offer for Readers of The Road to The Good Life
Kiwi Crate is giving new subscribers 25% off their first month subscription, when you use this code: RGL25. You also receive free shipping plus a bonus welcome kit which includes a really nice pair of Fiskars kids scissors. Kiwi Crates ship to both the US and Canada.
If you subscribe to Kiwi Crate by Wednesday, September 17, you'll get the Time Traveler Series featuring catapults, The Wild West, and dinosaurs.
For us, $19.95 a month for two+ hours of play is a good deal (if you sign up for six months or twelve months the price drops to $18.50 and $16.95, respectively). Because cubes and Todd came back with Gates' bed, I don't know how long this crate would have ultimately held her attention. I couldn't believe over two hours had passed and Gates was still busy playing. I do know that I've been spending about three to four hours researching and preparing my own activity kits, some of which are a hit and others not so much, so roughly $10 for over an hour of fun that doesn't involve a screen is a steal for me. (If $20 a month is out of your budget, they have activities listed by age range (toddler / pre-school / kids) on their site that you can source supplies for and make yourself.)
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary Kiwi Crate for the purpose of this review. All opinions presented are my own.