Kiwi Crate Review
Around Christmas 2016 I kept getting advertisements for Kiwi Crate on my Facebook feed and elsewhere (no data mining going on anywhere, right? I am sure I had "geeky mom who likes gadgetry" out somewhere and Kiwi Crate was a great hit for me)!
I use Ebates, and with Ebates and Kiwi Crate I ACTUALLY ended up paying nothing for the kits. So, I got all I could. As of now, it looks like you can get 7.5% cash back right now for ordering a Kiwi Crate and two codes I believe work to get a discount on the monthly box are SHARE10 (should be half off the box making it $10) and SHARE30 (30% off). I cannot guarantee these work, but according to coupon sites on the up-and-up they do.
Ok, onward, troops...review time.
Essentially Kiwi Crate has 4 different subscription boxes. They run $20 a month at the time of this writing (you can buy them individually for a larger amount if you don't want the subscription).
Koala Crate is for Pre-schoolers. They are relatively easy to do and the materials are not complex.
Kiwi Crate is for early to middle elementary. The projects are ones that can almost be done without any hand-holding for an 8 year old.
Doodle Crate is for middle elementary to 16+. The projects have a more artistic focus. Some may say they are geared toward girls, but it depends on your kid.
Tinker Crate is the most STEAM of all of them and is also middle elementary to 16+.
KOALA CRATE: I got this one for K-Bug. She was technically a few months shy of the 3-5 year age range on their website. But, what this mainly consisted of was 3 little projects:
Project 1: Laminated Chameleon body and googly eyes (to show that their eyes move a lot) to stick on it and one of those things you blow into on New Years Eve to show the chameleon's tongue. It had little bug cardboard things it could stick it's tongue out to hit as a game.
Project 2: Turtle box that was all sticking felt pieces to a cardboard (decent quality paper) box. It had a piece of velcro to hide the legs and head and such to show that turtles can pull all that into their shell.
Project 3: A Snake that you had to stuff and decorate. There was also some significance to it's design to show what a snake does, but it eludes me at the moment.
The projects came with a book about reptiles and I think it was very cute. But, the things aren't super high quality, so I kind of would love to see that particular box a little cheaper than the other three. I know it had three projects in it, but I am not sure I would spend $20 a month on it. I really love the premise and the information/thought put into it. Maybe I am just a cheap skate.
KIWI CRATE:The rest of these crates were gotten for C-Bear.
This crate came with a project called "ARCADE." You were to make an arcade-style "claw" like you would see in one of those impossible claw-that-never-picks-up-the-animal-and-just-eats-your-money game. Or maybe you do get the animal...you never get the really good stuff, though. Anyway, This project uses some thin, but fairly sturdy wood to make the claw. C-Bear really didn't need help with it until it was time to make the little "stuffed" animal alien-type guys. Then, he needed help. They are essentially just pom-poms.
Our kit came without a really important piece to the claw, so we ended up waiting many many weeks for a replacement. You can take that as a light criticism of the process. I have a creative kid FOAMING at the mouth to build, build, build, and is then thwarted by the smallest of plastic pieces being missing. They sent a complete new kit, but it didn't make the old one useful...until he broke the claw doing something foolish with it. Then, we had a spare piece, which was nice. This is one of two of our remaining kits we got. Longevity is an issue...part of that is because we don't like to collect a lot of clutter and some of these things end up just looking cluttery. We need a different system! HA!
DOODLE CRATE: We ended up getting three doodle crates. At first, I was very not keen on the fortune teller one. It ended up being a favorite and we didn't use it to tell fortunes but as a gum ball type machine. You can put chores on the little balls in it and have those pop out! Why didn't I think of that before?
"You are bored? Go use the gum ball machine and see what it tells you to do!" It was basically a lot of wood glued together and one piece turns and pops out a ball at a time. Doodle crates are more "artistic" in nature so this one was mainly about beautiful handwriting on the little messages in the ball. C-Bear didn't care to do that.
We also got one that was a decorative clock. It was ok. You could get really artsy and creative with how you put the clock together. The second hand was broken almost instantly (more tears...my biggest criticism of these is if you have a child who likes to keep things perfect this may challenge your patience as the materials are fairly cheap.
The item I will actually share with you was one of our favorite items. It was a spirograph. The doodle crates, by the way, take some help by an adult to put together. Less so than the tinker crates, but you need to be watching younger kids who may not read directions and just want to power through. The spirograph was really neat and we still have it. It is interesting to see how placing the pen in different locations change the patterns. I think it is my favorite.
TINKER CRATE: I love this crate as an engineer. It was pretty frustrating, though. The quality was good, but C-Bear couldn't contain himself with excitement and tried to build it by himself. Yeah, he built one piece backward and in trying to rectify his blunder we destroyed it. It was an Automaton and it worked by having stepped-up blocks (smallest to largest in size) being turned by alternating cams that basically made them step. Pretty cool. I love how I got to talk with him about cams and ellipses (because he was listening *eye roll*) and some other cool STEAM things. But, we utterly destroyed the shaft that had all the cams on it. Kiwi Crate was really cool about it, though, and sent us a new one. We built it to perfection...until he had it on the floor and tripped over it (we keep a pretty clean house and this was totally a freak accident). The other cam shaft broke. I tried multiple methods to fix it and they were all in vain. So, that got thrown out, but it was pretty cool!
OVERALL VERDICT: Personally, this isn't something we can do every month. Every $20 counts for most households. If we just had oodles of money this would be a really great thing because, though I am very crafty, I don't do crafts with our kids very well. This is what made me realize a lot of the super hands-on curricula would be the death of me. You could call me lazy, but I prefer very much to read. This fills a "void." So, I would ask for it as a gift, I would also use the links above to get some introductory inexpensive kits to try out and see for yourselves how worth it these are to you. If you as looking for a gift for Christmas/birthday, these are great! A crafting and science (in one) kit every month. C-Bear really loves them, but we dealt with some frustration with perfectionism and having them be a little on the fragile side. I think these are great! They would be something that would be occasional for us, though, in our current financial and life situation.