Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Playbox Subscriptions: Worth It?

It's fortunate that I have a day job, which allows my night-blogging to be without the pressure to earn.  Granted that I work in marketing and used to do the blog-sponsporing, nowadays as a reader I tune out from too many blogs for this reason.  (The irony of this has not escaped me)

For this reason I have decided that there aren't enough objective reviews out there, and being a single-job working mom gives me the luxury to do those.  The luxury of time is another story.  If I have any appetite to review something, it will be potential solutions for a busy working mom.   

In this case it's something very tempting : monthly play box subscriptions.  Are they worth it?

If you live in the Philippines there are two options: Kahone and Sandbox.  Wonderful idea, if you ask me.  But pricey!  Can't blame them, they're a business that needs to make maybe, 50% profit margin.  There are discounted subscription options but they require commitment.  Before you do, perhaps consider these three reasons:

1.  Can you DIY it?
In play box subscriptions, most of the activities are DIY-able.  I'm no creative genius, but I can certainly do an easy craft with my toddler/preschooler.  And you can do them at home with better quality materials.  Good markers and glue.  A glass jar instead of a plastic one.  You don't need more cheap stuff.  Or all that unnecessary plastic packaging used for the stuff inside. 

All you need to do is to invest in accessible craft materials around the house.  They'll pretty much last forever - longer than you think.  Buy the best you can afford and empower the kids to use them freely.

Make an accessible crafts shelf in the playroom with drawers full of stuff for creating
2.  Is it a special occasion or theme?
Kahone does a good job of special topics that would normally take a lot of time to research for DIY.  For Buwan ng Wika, I ordered a Filipino-themed box since I desperately want Ladybug to love her country and language.  It was also nearing her birthday so the package doubled as a special surprise.  

I just left it on her top shelf to discover after her bath.
She found it immediately and yelled "where did this box come from!?" 

I love the idea of gifting a play box and having kids get mail.  She loved seeing her name on the box.

3.  Will you make your child do all the activities?
Parenting style comes a lot into this.  Each play box will come with 4 activities or so, and the chances of consistent high interest in every activity will be slim.  Know that every box contains stimulus for play, but is highly parent-led rather than child-led.  If your child won't play, how will you react as a playmate?  As a parent?

My parenting style is child-led, since I've learned never to let the teacher role take over during playtime.  So that meant we only did half of the box and saved the rest for "later" (never).

The "sipa" activity was her favourite.  It was a great fine motor activity for her six-year old fingers, and a fun gross motor activity with the finished product.  We played with this for a week and it's still out in her shelf.
Some boxes seem to be very prepartion-intensive also.  We had to cut out the dresses to fit the paper dolls.

She did one at least, but lost interest in playing or talking about the traditional dress.
Sandbox seems to have less adult prep work needed.
The rest were too prep-intensive and even I didn't want to prepare them ahead.


The bottom-line when to pay for a play box:

... when kids will learn lessons more than just making "crafts" you can DIY
... when it's a very cool gift with no further expectations but to enjoy the moment

Personally here are the play boxes that I absolutely love investing in:

It's not a box, it's the panda's home in the River Safari zoo
It's not a box, it's the Antarctica continent
It's not a box, it's a treasure hunt chest
It's not a box, it's a "crystal palace"
It's not a box, it's some goods for our pretend toystore: "Fantastic Costumes for Cinderella"
It's not a box, it's an aquarium

Worth every peso, worth every minute.


Drop in a comment to share your own views!  

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  1. How old was she when you started making the craft materials accessible? Because if I do that now, I think the whole house will soon be covered in crayons/markers/chalk/what-have-you :)

    1. At two!:) Even washable crayons, different papers, price stickers of different colors are a great start as long as it's accessible anytime. Doesn't have to be the heavy stuff until you establish some boundaries! But accept the inevitable crayon mark or two;)

  2. Mommy! You have posted a lot of projects that I want to do with my 5 year old. For many reasons I haven't gone back to my DIY Arts and Crafts anymore. I will look into the playbox subscriptions and try to do some of my own. Thank you so much for your posts. They are really very helpful. :)

    1. Hi Shey! Thank you! I guess arts and crafts are admittedly intimidating sometimes. It's nice to go with the flow and just whip out a box when creativity strikes!

  3. LittleHuman_Co@yahoo.com10/26/2014 11:08 pm

    I love the diy sensory/play boxes ☺ I have a 2 yo toddler, we keep a "craft can" filled with paper, scissors, glue, etc. And our room walls are painted of stickers, pencil-crayon-marker-chalk marks! Childhood only happens once ❤

    1. True! It's so liberating when you just shrug off the potential marks on the walls haha! I hope this comment makes it through, replies through my phone don't seem to!


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