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So which subscription boxes are really worth it? They always look super cool, but with five kids (3 will be homeschooled- ages 6, 8, 10) I fear adding more clutter to the chaos or not getting around to using them. Can any be used fairly independently? Which would you not bother with?😁

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☝️ It’s all true. 😭
I had subscriptions to Magic School Bus science kits, MELChemistry, and KiwiCo. I can’t bring myself to get rid of the last 2 but they are taking up huge amounts of space.
 

There are some fun MEL kits but nothing truly meaningful in there. They were convenient. I don’t like that you can’t pick the one you want. At least the MEL safety glasses were comfortable enough to wear out to the store with my mask. 

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I have tried a couple of subscriptions. My kids aren't into them and the products aren't worth the cost to me. To recreate something like it would be expensive, though. I have looked into making some for FIAR type activities. What would be great is to get together with some local friends and have each person make a couple. You pay bulk bbn prices and divide everything out. People did things like that with busy bags. It would be cost effective and fun.

 

ETA: One example would be to buy a packet or two of origami paper and divide the papers out so that every packet had 10-20 papers. Add a few more activities or small objects and you've got a reasonably priced kit.

Edited by Meriwether
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We love Raddish Kids. It’s a cooking subscription box. Very few of the recipes have been duds. The cooking utensils are good quality (I snatch them a lot and use them) and the recipes are very doable with little supervision. The only ones I had to really step in was the kefta   rolls for the Moroccan box, but that’s because they used phyllo dough. The Moroccan box came with little rose shaped silicone inserts for muffin tins and DD made orange rose tea cakes for her aunts for Mother’s Day and they turned out great and delicious. She was very proud.

Edited by KrissiK
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I also wanted to mention Atlas crates. It’s from KwiwCo. I teach for a homeschool charter and one of my families who has a kindergartner used that as a spine for history, and it worked really well. They supplemented with library books, too, but I loved how they studied a different country of the world each month.

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We primarily use Kiwi/Tinker Crates. I do not help. It's just for them to have fun and figure it out and clean up after themselves. They do take up space though because my kids tend to reuse or combine pieces.

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13 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

We have enjoyed MEL science and Tinker Crates. The trick for us is, I pause my subs a lot to keep it special.

MEL became a drag when I saw them pile up- and some of that was my kids wanted to do the same experiments over and over, so I paused it. MEL gives you ample material to be able to repeat several times and boy, do they like to do that (and they like me to record them doing the experiments like they have a YouTube channel.) 

Same with Tinker- I just have to control the influx, and I pick the crates. And then I don’t feel bad to toss it when they’re done playing with it. They both have been very helpful for giving my son autonomy and practice following directions. I still oversee the MEL for sure, but they can still do it themselves for the most part. And Tinker has had some fun stuff. I just can’t see it being fun every month and not turning into a “have to”. They’re fun on rainy days though. 

Oh my goodness, my guys would love this, I don't know why I haven't done it. (Well, yeah I do. It's 'cause it kinda grates on my nerves after a few minutes. Still.) Good to know MEL gives a lot of material.

Are you doing the MEL junior (or whatever they call the one for younger kids) or regular? 

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Well my dd was older and had a monthly make-up/skin care subscription box (Birchbox, but there are lots of others now too).  She loved it!  Also, I'm now remembering that my kids had a geography subscription box quite a few years ago, probably upper elementary school age.  Doing a quick Google search, it doesn't seem to exist anymore.  But, they loved it!!  

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8 hours ago, Plum said:

I keep eyeing an art box subscription service for dd but I should know better by now. 
 

https://www.letsmakeart.com/

I have been really happy with it. I started by buying some single projects that were $15 each. My dd and I tried them together. Then we started the subscription for the summer. I am going to pause it for Sept and Oct unless there is a project that we have to paint. Then once school is back in a pattern, we should have more time to paint again.

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25 minutes ago, OKBud said:

Saaaame. The appeal here is that it takes all decision-making from my plate. But when we sit down as a family to draw or paint from YT tutorials, it's been most awesome. So we'd almost definitely like it. I don't like subscriptions re: how the money comes out of the account, either, though. It's a genius business strategy, putting spending on auto-pilot. 

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I wanted to add that  Talkbox.mom sucks! It sucks so much that I don't trust the reviews of any blogger/podcaster who favorably reviewed them. 

I love that Let’s Make Art releases the upcoming projects in the next box, and you can elect to not have it sent. 

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1 hour ago, OKBud said:

Saaaame. The appeal here is that it takes all decision-making from my plate. But when we sit down as a family to draw or paint from YT tutorials, it's been most awesome. So we'd almost definitely like it. I don't like subscriptions re: how the money comes out of the account, either, though. It's a genius business strategy, putting spending on auto-pilot. 

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I wanted to add that  Talkbox.mom sucks! It sucks so much that I don't trust the reviews of any blogger/podcaster who favorably reviewed them. 

What didn't you like about Talkbox.mom? I have a couple boxes and found it very useful and practical. My complaint would be it is too expensive for what it is but that's my complaint for many boxes.  

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1 hour ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

We have the regular one. I hadn’t even realized there was a junior! One of their favorite parts is it at first is the VR viewer and the app. I seriously think most of it (on the VR) is over their heads but they sure think it’s cool. 
 

And yes, the YouTube imitation can be super annoying, but it’s essentially narration I guess and my compromise with them, because I will not let them have their own channel! It also works for getting them to cook etc. “Why don’t you make a video of it?!” 😂 I should try it with asking them to clean the bathroom. Maybe that will work too! 

Lol I wondered if the VR would be a distraction or useful. 

That's a really good point that the video is essentially narration. I can use that to adjust my view of it, because they would truly love it. Haha Train them to do one of those "Clean with me" videos the mommy youtubers do. 😂

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I find that I generally get as much out of a curriculum or experience as I put into it. So, with something like a subscription box, I don't put much in and I don't get much out.

The exception would be if it is something my child is really really motivated to do on their own and that I just don't have the headspace to facilitate.

I liked my makeup subscription box. 🙂 BoxyCharm.

Also, I got a foreign language learning box for two months. We didn't do much from it, but it made me realize there was no magic product that would solve my problems and helped motivate me to design my own curriculum that we've now been using for 8 months with good success and happy children.

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34 minutes ago, OKBud said:

The disparity between what it costs and what it's worth, coupled with what it is touted as being, is absolutely absurd imo, not merely over-priced. 

 

I can understand that view, and I come pretty close to sharing it.

The thing is, though, what other resource is similar? At the time I was interested in it, I couldn't find a single other resource (besides one out of print book that I couldn't get a copy of, I don't now remember what it was) that easily provided so much practical, everyday language that we would actually *use*? I wasn't looking for conjugating verbs or colors and numbers type stuff, although I found tons of that. I wanted actual conversation, natural language phrases I'd say in normal conversation with the kids. 

Maybe there's something like that now, or something I overlooked at the time. But if you're offering something that's not too common, in this case something closer to native conversation than textbook, then I'm inclined to think it's ok to charge more. I don't like that it's so expensive, that's what keeps me from doing it regularly, but I can understand the reasoning. 

All that said, I do agree that the price isn't reasonable. It would be better received and more popular if they'd lower the price.  [ETA: They should drastically lower price and make it all a pdf.]  And it's not like they're including expensive materials or anything. It's just handily gathered together and happened to be exactly what I wanted at the time.

I'll also add that I would think it would be horrible for a mom who is unable to read the language. Hmmm . . . the more I talk, the more I agree with you. 😄 I can read the language, and the book is fairly sufficient for what I wanted. And if I couldn't read it, I wouldn't have been able to use the box well. (They do have an app now, I wonder if that helps?) 

Edited by Jentrovert
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12 minutes ago, OKBud said:

For the book, this one is better

$1 Spanish flashcards from the dollar tree taped to items (fridge, bathroom, whatever) . A show in Spanish (we did Sesame Street en espanol on Amazon). And songs sung.poems recited until they are memorized. And just remembering to do it every day, of course. 

The Charlotte Mason-based Spanish books are similar in intent as well Though I preferred See It and Say it over those as well, and gave them away. 

I agree with you PDF would be good, but I know that has its own pitfalls for the creators. 

I'd pay, at most, $20 for their box as it is. 

Yeah, it would've been easy if I had just needed the names of things, practice conjugating, or travel-based phrases. Those things abound. I wanted whole phrases I say normally at home, without having to look up verbs, etc. Talkbox did that very straight-forwardly. 

I don't remember looking at the Charlotte Mason-based books, I'll take a look - thanks.

The bolded - that's the kicker. <sigh>

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4 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

I find that I generally get as much out of a curriculum or experience as I put into it. So, with something like a subscription box, I don't put much in and I don't get much out.

 

 

Amen, @EmilyGF.  I can recommend the EEME boxes which are quite small (approx. 2"x2"x4").  But I made learning an electronics a priority in our homeschool, so we did the projects together as they arrived.  I believe EEME also has a pause button on their subscription.  

Folks pan BFSU science because it isn't all in one box.  You are expected to source and purchase all materials for nearly every lesson in the book.  But that research is part of the preparation.  Buying the materials on a piece by piece basis to fit with the lesson you are currently studying helps guarantee your commitment to using it when it arrives.  

In homeschooling as in other things, there are few shortcuts.  

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22 minutes ago, daijobu said:

 

Amen, @EmilyGF.  I can recommend the EEME boxes which are quite small (approx. 2"x2"x4").  But I made learning an electronics a priority in our homeschool, so we did the projects together as they arrived.  I believe EEME also has a pause button on their subscription.  

Folks pan BFSU science because it isn't all in one box.  You are expected to source and purchase all materials for nearly every lesson in the book.  But that research is part of the preparation.  Buying the materials on a piece by piece basis to fit with the lesson you are currently studying helps guarantee your commitment to using it when it arrives.  

In homeschooling as in other things, there are few shortcuts.  

 I agree with all this. My conclusions have been 1) find a time to regularly incorporate them into your week/month and 2) cancel quickly if they start to stack up.

I got an art kit for younger dd that she did during her at time at the table while the rest of us did other work. When we were getting that world geography one, we did that during history time. When we got MEL Science I linked them to our BFSU lessons, although some just waited until summer and we did them when my dad visited. This was when I learned to suspend or cancel when they started stacking up. I had some of those kids still around when younger dd got to that point in BFSU. EEME was great and younger dd did that for science while she was in the electricity parts of BFSU. 

All those kids were with it and worked out, but probably because I had a plan and they had good reviews. I will admit to having a few drawers jammed full with used art kits and MEL kits because there is enough to repeat them - but clearly, by now, I can see that is never going to happen. Oh, the inconsistencies inside us.

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@OKBudYes, I've met the EEME guy in person and he's great!  

I am guilty of overbuying too.  I bought a high school level physics textbook when my kids were in middle school because someone was selling it and ya gotta learn physics, right?  I didn't consider that the classes my kids signed up for would require their own textbooks (duh) and it sat on my shelf unused for years.  Then I adopted a new rule.  Don't buy anything unless you intend to use it imminently, like in the next month or so.  And definitely never buy anything years before you intend to use it.   

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I don't get it as a subscription, but we like Eat2Explore boxes as an occasional addition to our geography studies.  It includes three recipes from a single country, as well as spice mixes or sauces (non perishable items) to make them.  It's fun to make things with ingredients I might not have on hand, don't want to buy large portions of, or can't source easily, and my kids have been willing to try (with mixed results) the foods.

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I love love LOVE the idea of subscription boxes. I've tried a "few" and there were only one, really, that I thought was worth it - Ivy Kids. She does an amazing job! So, if I had little kids, that's the only box I would get.

Magic School Bus- I got it cheap, so it was OK, but after awhile, they are just boring

Kiwi stuff (for various ages) I got it cheap, so it was OK, but yep, just more trash to throw out after  2 seconds of entertainment.

Little Passports - Oh I was furious with what they sent for the price. I got a refund.

Raddish - I like it, but i I think it could be cheaper. My kid loves it and uses it, so it has been a holiday present for the past few years.

I *think* I am done for now. I would have loved to get a real science box, but everything I looked at just seems very fluffy to me. And really expensive. So, I am not doing it. I do reserve the right to change my mind 🙂

Edited by SereneHome
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On 7/29/2020 at 12:05 PM, SereneHome said:

I love love LOVE the idea of subscription boxes. I've tried a "few" and there were only one, really, that I thought was worth it - Ivy Kids. She does an amazing job! So, if I had little kids, that's the only box I would get.

Magic School Bus- I got it cheap, so it was OK, but after awhile, they are just boring

Kiwi stuff (for various ages) I got it cheap, so it was OK, but yep, just more trash to throw out after  2 seconds of entertainment.

Little Passports - Oh I was furious with what they sent for the price. I got a refund.

Raddish - I like it, but i I think it could be cheaper. My kid loves it and uses it, so it has been a holiday present for the past few years.

I *think* I am doing for now. I would have loved to get a real science box, but everything I looked at just seems very fluffy to me. And really expensive. So, I am not doing it. I do reserve the right to change my mind 🙂

Yes, yes, yes on Ivy Kids! So many activities, and every single thing included (as opposed to everything but the easily found household objects that are never easily found.) The sibling add-ons have the perfect amount of everything. 

I'm sad my kids have outgrown Ivy Kids.

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My youngest still loves Eureka crates... he uses the pencil sharpener on his desk all the time and the lap desk in his bed and I think he has stuff in the lockbox... and we all play with the ping pong thingy and that pinball table comes out all the time. 

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Subscription boxes don't work for us. I used to get kiwico boxes for my son but it was such a hit or mix. Sometimes he liked the activity, sometimes he wasn't interested. I've learned it's just easier to let him pick his own STEM kits from Amazon so there's no risk of him not liking it as much. Plus I like picking some myself to match what we're learning in science, like since we're learning about the sun I picked up a solar power kit from Amazon 🙂

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I've tried:

TinkerCrates: Great for the process of doing it-keeps them busy, but afterwards, it mostly just sits around.
Raddish: Ok, a little expensive, but great recipes, and mostly great tools.
Universal Yums: Great! We loved the different foods, but we ended up learning that we enjoyed European snacks, but Asian ones not so much. 

I think with any box, you either have to pause periodically, like some previous posters mentioned, or just plan to do it for a year or less before they get boring.

I really want to try out Craftsman Crates for my tweens, but maybe in the future.

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On 7/30/2020 at 4:20 PM, Jentrovert said:

Yes, yes, yes on Ivy Kids! So many activities, and every single thing included (as opposed to everything but the easily found household objects that are never easily found.) The sibling add-ons have the perfect amount of everything. 

I'm sad my kids have outgrown Ivy Kids.

It seems that Ivy Kids would compliment FIAR style learning. 

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On 7/26/2020 at 10:02 PM, Plum said:

I keep eyeing an art box subscription service for dd but I should know better by now. 
 

https://www.letsmakeart.com/

I'll let you know. I just got a subscription to this for my daughter with money from her aunt.

She loved Mo Willem's videos last Spring and the Painting with a Twist experiences (Which I'm unwilling to do right now) so this is the compromise and we'll see how it goes.

 

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