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This Christmas I decided to add more STEAM toys into our Christmas gift mix. I surprised my son and his cousin (who is also 4 years old) each with their own three month subscription to KiwiCo’s Koala Crates. I’ve seen this advertised in my Facebook news feed and have been interested in trying it out with my kids for a while. I thought this was a great time to get started.

KiwiCo sells monthly subscriptions to hands-on science and art projects in crates for ages 0-16+. They have a Panda Crate for ages 0-2, a Koala Crate for ages 3-4, Kiwi Crate for ages 5-8, and several more crates for kids ages 9 up 16+).

On the KiwiCo website a quote that stuck out to me is, “We make STEAM accessible, engaging, and fun. Our goal is to inspire kids to see themselves as scientists, artists, and makers.” Now that’s a mission I can get behind! That is my goal here on Engineering Emily too.

Our first crate had a rainbow theme – which got my kids excited from the start. I shared a STEAM for Kids experiment all about rainbows last year, so I was interested to see how this compared. These activities were completely different from my experiments, and much more focused on the art aspect of STEAM, which was really neat.

The crate came with 3 activities: a cloud pillow (the easiest and our favorite), rainbow tote bag, and stained glass art, along with a magazine all about rainbows.

I let my son look at the instructions for all three activities and decide which one he wanted to do first. He selected the cloud pillow. This was a super easy and fun project for him. He was proud because he could do all the steps himself, and it wasn’t messy (#momwin).

The only snag was when my daughter wanted to help stuff the pillow, but my son wanted to do it all himself (#momlife). He did eventually end up letting her help and they both enjoyed this activity.

My son loves his finished rainbow pillow, especially because he made it himself!

The second activity my kids selected was the rainbow tote bag. Since my daughter had been upset about not getting to help with the pillow my son told her she could have the tote bag. This made her very happy and I was so proud of him that he wanted to share with her.

The three of us worked together on this project, and we have a beautiful finished product, but the process was not easy for me with two kids.

The colored paper squares were very thin and hard for my son to hold and place on the wet bag. They kept sticking to his hand, moving, or getting crinkled, which was upsetting him. So I patiently helped my son learn how to place the squares delicately, but I ended up placing many of them myself.

The kids did, however, enjoy using the dropper to spread water over the squares. They both were able to do this step independently and had fun doing it.

Once the bag dried and we removed the squares my daughter added the clouds. She absolutely loves her new tote bag!

The third activity we worked on was the stained glass art. The crate came with a small container of colored squares to be used for 2 projects. Unfortunately, I hadn’t read this instruction before doing the tote bag, and we used almost all the colored squares on the tote (and I scrunched up and threw in the trash bin the remaining squares). Once I read I still needed colored squares I ran to the trash bin to try to recover as many scrunched up squares as I could. Luckily, I recovered enough squares to mostly cover the area needed.

My son had trouble punching out the shapes himself and got frustrated, so I ended up doing that step for him.

Also, it was difficult for him to place the shapes on the sticky paper. Once something stuck to the sticky screen it was there permanently, with no room for mistakes. So when my son wanted to move a shape after placing it, he couldn’t and got upset. However, when we were finished he was proud of his colorful artwork.

Overall, my kids loved the activities and their finished products, but we had a few bumps along the way. This was likely due to three mistakes I made:

My first mistake was letting both kids participate in the Koala Crate box. My daughter (who is 2) was too young to really understand what to do and caused my son (who is 4) and me a lot of frustration.

My second mistake was letting them do all three activities in one sitting. Since you get one box a month with these subscriptions, I would recommend trying one activity per week so that it lasts you all month.

My final mistake is not reading the instructions for all three activities at the beginning, because sometimes the crates come with materials that need to be split between several activities (as discussed previously in the stained glass art section).

The box also came with a really cute magazine all about rainbows. It featured more information about rainbows, a few more experiments you can try at home and some cute stories. My kids get the Highlights magazine and love it, so when I told them the crate came with a magazine, they were really excited and enjoyed reading this magazine with me.

After writing the review about the rainbow crate, we have received our second box which was dinosaur themed. My kids enjoyed the rainbow crate, but the dinosaur crate was 100x better!

We completed all three projects with little to no fighting between the kids, they were all very kid-friendly and age-appropriate (my son could do all the steps on his own!), and the experiments were all no mess this time!

I also learned from our mistakes with the first crate and read through the instructions of all three experiments before we began, and we did not do all the activities at the same time. We spread them out over several days.

We were much happier with our second crate and now I’m really looking forward to finding out what we get next month in our third crate. If we like the third crate as much or more than the dinosaurs crate, I’m planning on getting a longer subscription so my kids can continue to do these fun projects every month.

We have completed two Koala Crates now, and I would recommend this as a STEAM toy or activity for kids. The crates came with fun activities that allowed me to spend educational play time with my kids. It is convenient and affordable. I didn’t have to spend time looking for activities on Pinterest and track down materials. If you’re interested in trying out a KiwiCo Crate you can subscribe by clicking one of my affiliate links in this post. Subscribe to KiwiCo here.

Have you tried a KiwiCo crate? What did you think of it? Would you be interested in this or another similar STEAM for kids subscription?


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