Ani painting her first diarama
The subscription service business sector is exploding the online retail market. You can now buy toys, pet products, clothing, stationary, beauty products, eco-cleaning supplies, and even organic snacks all in monthly packages with excellent branding. While print magazines are slowly fading away, a new type of subscription purchasing is taking place in droves--for those who are too busy or depleted to run one more errand (hand raised here), you can get a fun surprise on your doorstep for a decent price. These are excellent as curriculum because all the work of planning and gathering has been done for you! Now it's just up to the child to execute and enjoy the process.
I have tried a few subscription services as either birthday gifts or a trial run for homeschooling, and let me tell you there are some awesome businesses going up! I want to highlight a few of them for you that can be used as homeschooling curriculum for elementary grade kids. With each I'll let you know if I, myself, have tried it, will try it in the future, or if I know someone who has tried it, or none of the above.
Little Passports -- Little Passports is a geography adventure covering a country each month and has three age groups to choose from.This is one of the first educational subscriptions I'd heard of--years ago-- and it's a reigning champion. I have a friend who has tried it and really loves it. It looks like a great way to explore the world without leaving your home. Plane tickets are expensive these days! Included are imaginary play items like a boarding pass and letter from pen pals Sophia and Sam, links to online games and crafts.
Pley -- I have tried this subscription service (when it was called Pleygo) and LOVED it. It works just like netflix--you pay for the 'level' you want (in this case, which type of LEGO sets you'd like to receive), the kids play for however long they want and then send the LEGO set back to get another in the mail. If you choose to keep a particular set, you just notify Pley online and the next one in your queue ships out! Suitable for kids 3+.
Animal Trackers -- This is a new one to me. I hadn't heard of it before researching educational boxes for this post, but it looks like it could be really fun for PreK-2nd graders who love animals. Each month is a new animal to learn about and 'track' and if your son or daughter is a huge Wild Kratts fan, this may be right up their ally.
Raddish -- This subscription box is for the mini baker and wee chef in the family. This branding and packaging is excellent. It really is a beautiful box (I'm not going to lie, it makes a difference to me) and comes with recipes, shopping lists, a craft or activity, a Raddish patch for each month and online extension activities. Okay, so the food doesn't come with, but I am considering this for next year's Health curriculum for Ani, who loves participating in the kitchen. Suitable for kids 5+.
Groovy Lab in a Box -- This is a science related experiment kit that looks really great. The branding is similar to Mental Floss, so already my interest is piqued. I have not tried this but I am going to get a small subscription for Lukka to try out next Fall. I know he'll love it, and we'll compare it to our experience with Tinker Crate. It looks like you get a lot of items for experiments, but my hesitation is that most of these items are things you'd already have around the home. The interesting thing is that there are more than 1 activity per box, thus making the subscription last longer each month.
History Unboxed -- This is a new-to-me subscription kit that I saw on SimpleHomeschool.net, a blog I read online that has introduced me to many a good resource and I trust their opinion of educational materials. It looks like this is a brand-new service, because they only have a few to choose from, and all of them are about cultures from long ago. I am interested to know more about this one for our homeschool curriculum (history sometimes being the hardest to come up with excellent lessons, for me anyway), but I want to wait a bit so I can see that they have more than just three or four ancient cultures to choose from.
Green Kid Crafts* -- This is another reigning champion of subscription boxes for kids. I've heard about this one for years though have never followed through on getting a box to try out. I find that I have so many art supplies at home, I don't need any more that a subscription kit could offer, but I know that many parents or child-care givers don't want to accumulate the amount that we have, either! This is a great option for the kid who loves to craft.
Tinker Crate -- Tinker Crate is a STEM-related educational subscription and it is awesome! We had a 3-month subscription that turned into a 4 monther because of a snafu and miscommunication. It wasn't the easiest for my school, HCOS, to get a subscription for my son, nor for us to get in touch with TC about the issue, but once we made contact they gave us a free month to rectify, which I appreciated. TC is a branch of KiwiCrate, which is another popular crafty subscription. They also have Koala Crate (PreK) and Doodle Crate (9-16yo). I often call my son "the Tinker" and so this box was perfect for him. He loved getting this every month and didn't need my help at all to figure the projects out. They come with a blueprint, a Tinker Zine (great info and more projects related to monthly topic with at-home items), all the materials, which I found to be top-notch quality, and an online video tutorial if you can't figure it out. Suitable for kids 7 or 8+.
Love the idea of a subscription service for your kids' enjoyment or homeschool curriculum but didn't find the type of activity they're into? Check here for a large listing (also includes clothing and toy subscription services).
*The GKC website seems to be down, the link isn't broken. Check back in a day or too if you're interested.