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- KiwiCo has subscription boxes for kids of all ages that contain fun and educational activities designed by child development experts.
- Its newest box, the Panda Crate, is a subscription box for babies and toddlers (0 to 24 months).
- I tested Panda Crate with my toddler, and she didn't just engage with these toys once — she wanted to go back to play with them again and again.
- Depending on your subscription, prices currently range from $20 to $30 per crate.
As a work-at-home mom, I often feel overwhelmed by making sure I'm teaching my daughter everything she needs to know and appropriately stimulating her to help her development. She doesn't go to daycare and she's not old enough for preschool, so it all falls on me.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, up until age 5, it's important to talk, read, and sing with your child every day. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for regular play "because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children."
So, to support Ellie's development, I make sure we get those four things in daily: talking, reading, singing, and playing. Even though I know those are the activities we should be doing each day, I still sometimes run out of ideas and activities.
This is where play subscription boxes like Lovevery and KiwiCo come in handy. I was excited when KiwiCo launched its new Panda Crate subscription box for babies and toddlers (ages newborn to 24 months). They sent me a sample box to try out, and here's what it was like for me and my daughter to explore the activities in the box.
What is the KiwiCo Panda Crate?
KiwiCo offers different versions of the Panda Crate for five age bands: 0 to 2 months, 3 to 6 months, 7 to 12 months, 13 to 18 months, and 19 to 24 months. Each box has fun and educational activities designed specifically for your child's age.
The boxes are created by experts, including former educators and child development professionals, and also tested by kids. This certainly makes my life easier, knowing I can spend less time researching which activities are appropriate for Ellie and more time playing with her.
Because the crates are designed by experts, they deliver activities in your child's zone of proximal development. This is a fancy way of saying the activities provide a little bit of a challenge so your child learns — but not so much of a challenge that they shut down and give up. It's the sweet spot of learning, and as a former teacher, I've seen how students flourish in this zone.
What it's like to use
The box definitely hit the sweet spot for Ellie. She is currently 18 months old, and her "Solve With Me" box came with four different activities, all designed to help her learn shapes: a peg puzzle, lacing beads, squishy shapes, and beanbag shapes. It also came with the book "Poppy's Shape Search."
Ellie immediately started exploring the activities, attempting to stack shapes onto the correct peg and playing with the large plush shapes that can be used for multiple games and activities.
When Ellie plays with her box, she rotates through the activities pretty evenly, but she seems to gravitate toward the lacing beads. Many other lacing toys are too difficult for her at the moment, but these beads are designed to perfectly hit that zone of proximal development and allow her to have success. For that reason, the lacing beads are my favorite activity in the box, too.
Ellie also really enjoys playing with the large squishy shapes. The magazine in the crate provided a song to sing about the three shapes (circle, triangle, and square), and she often holds the shapes and dances while we sing the song.
What makes it stand out
While each activity in the crate has a specific purpose, my favorite thing about the Panda Crate is that it comes with so many ideas for playing with the toys and activities included in the box. There is an activity card for each toy that explains how to play with it, but the box also comes with a an issue of "Wonder Magazine" and "Beyond the Crate" cards that offer many additional ways to play with your child and support their development.
When my brain is fried from sleepless nights or I'm just not feeling very creative, these ideas are a lifesaver. After Ellie was done exploring the box on her own, I used the ideas and instruction provided in the crate to encourage her to learn more.
Open-ended toys like the ones in the Panda Crate help extend play and ensure that kids won't just engage with toys once for 15 minutes and then toss them aside, never to be played with again. Ellie and I continually come back to her box to learn and play more.
How the subscription works
When you sign up for a subscription, KiwiCo will send you a Panda Crate every two months that is specifically tailored to meet the developmental milestones of your child's age.
Because it's a subscription-based service, you can save money by purchasing a longer subscription. Depending on your subscription, box prices range from $15.50 to $39.90 each. For an extra $9.95, you can also upgrade your box to include a book like the one I received in my box.
The bottom line
Babies and toddlers don't need a lot of stuff, and you don't have to spend a fortune on toys to make them happy. Play with them, read to them, sing to them, and talk to them, and you're setting them up for success.
Sometimes, though, we all need a little help when it comes to planning and setting up activities that will enrich our kids while they have fun. If you're like me and you want some structured ideas for play and to encourage proper development, the KiwiCo Panda Crate makes it easy. It will give you the confidence and peace of mind that you're continually providing educational activities for your child at each stage of their development.