Skip to main content

The Best Craft Subscription Boxes for kids

After spending 17 hours researching and testing 14 different craft subscription boxes, we are recommending two made by Kiwi Crate Inc.: the Koala Crate for preschoolers, and the Kiwi Crate for kids in early elementary school. Both include more original projects than in other subscriptions—our nine kid testers loved them—and we like that educators and child development experts vet the ideas. The kits are well-priced and developmentally appropriate, and the easy-to-use website makes these subscriptions a simple way to gift the kid(s) in your life a fun monthly package in the mail.

A Koala Crate kit comes with three activities each month and, unlike with some other subscriptions, everything you need is right in the box. We think the quality of the materials is on a par with those from other craft subscription services, but the project ideas themselves are more creative. The activities are fun and right on target for this age group. It feels like a special piece of mail arriving for your child, with vibrant supplies and designs produced in-house.

Our 5- to 8-year-old testers found the projects in their Kiwi Crate boxes among the most engaging, and parents liked that they seemed better thought out. These kits don’t focus on traditional crafts, but rather on hands-on activities exploring concepts of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (an educational approach referred to as STEAM that helps foster skills like critical thinking and problem solving). The projects are creative and often artistic. For example, one uses acids and bases to make art. Another gives kids the materials to make a glowworm to learn about phosphorescence. Kids will need a grown-up’s help most months, but we think this subscription offers up challenging and completely original boxes. Like Kiwi’s Koala Crate for younger kids, this one is also among the most affordable we found.

Aimed at kids ages 3 to 7, the projects in the monthly Little Loving Hands boxes (like a sock monkey or superhero cape) are meant to be donated to a charity once completed. You’ll pay more than you would with a Koala Crate subscription, and the projects themselves aren’t as interesting—our test boxes were mostly painting and coloring. But we like that this subscription gives kids a chance to learn about kindness through making. Each box contains one or two projects, along with a prepaid envelope for kids to mail their finished work to a different charity each month. We confirmed with three of the charities involved that they have been happy with the results of the collaboration, and they have received hundreds of useful donations.

The projects in a Green Kid Crafts box are less creative than those in our top pick for elementary school kids, but they are craftier. Papier-mâché dinosaur eggs and DIY space sand might appeal to families who’d like to add a little more science into their craft-loving kids’ lives. This subscription is targeted for kids 3 to 10, but we think kids 5 to 8 will like it best, and like Kiwi Crate, it incorporates STEAM concepts. While it’s the same price as a Kiwi Crate subscription, here you have the option, for an extra $10 a month, of buying another set of materials for a second child, and most of the projects can be completed independently.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

We spoke to Sajith Joy, a licensed occupational therapist at Advanced Therapy of America in Iselin, New Jersey, about the developmental benefits of crafts for young kids. We also spoke to Melissa Wiley, a children’s author and homeschooling mom of six, who has tried a lot of subscription boxes with her kids. She’s reviewed several of them over the years for GeekMom. And Holly Homer, co-author of 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!, has reviewed several craft subscriptions for her Kids Activities Blog.

I have a 5-year-old, who is right on the edge of the two age ranges we covered for this guide. I’m a published quilter, and we do a lot of crafting together. I was also a public school teacher (an elementary librarian) for more than seven years and a children’s librarian in a public library for a year before that. I have about a decade of experience programming and lesson planning for kids in this age group, which very often involves crafts, and I know what’s age-appropriate.

Who should get this

Craft subscription boxes are an obvious draw for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or family friends looking for a gift for young kids. Homeschooling families wanting enrichment activities may also enjoy a subscription. Many boxes have an educational element. Melissa Wiley told us, “We have enjoyed the ones with themes, several projects connected to a science or history theme for example, so there was a learning component to the experience.” Many boxes cost about $20 per month, and we think most people would have a hard time buying all of the supplies—let alone spending the time finding ideas—for that price.

You might also consider a craft subscription if you’re looking for activities for young kids who need extra help with their development of fine motor skills. Occupational therapist Sajith Joy told us that arts and crafts check all the boxes for visual motor coordination (using hand movement guided by vision), bilateral coordination (using both sides of your body in conjunction to complete tasks), and fine motor coordination (coordinating the small muscles of the hands and fingers). “Motor skill development is different for every child, however it is appropriate for these skills to begin development in their early 3s and increase development with simple crafts until they are 6,” Joy said. “Most of these skills required for simple arts and crafts will be developed by age 6.”

How we picked and tested

Our top four picks for both age ranges. From top left: Green Kid Crafts, Kiwi Crate, Little Loving Hands, and Koala Crate. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

We combed through three sites that review subscription boxes and sell them—My Subscription Addiction, Hello Subscription, and Cratejoy—to find art supply and craft boxes aimed at kids. We read Holly Homer’s subscription box reviews on Kids Activities Blog and Melissa Wiley’s for GeekMom, and we referred to articles on Mess for Less, She Knows, PopSugar, and Dodo. Google searches helped us find any we might be missing.

Overall, we considered about 50 subscription boxes. From that lengthy list, we began weeding out offerings from companies that are no longer in business. Brandy O’Grady, a customer service representative at Hello Subscription, told us that the company is constantly checking its database for defunct companies but it doesn’t remove them from the site. “We keep the entries up (as closed subscriptions),” she told us, which helps existing customers find out what happened to a company. After coming across dozens of out-of-business subscription companies, we concluded that they close frequently. So we avoided any that don’t have active social media accounts or answer our emails.

After talking with our experts, we decided that a $20 to $25 monthly price was a good range. Wiley said $20 a month is her top price for a craft subscription, and she expects all project materials to be included. “Don’t make me scrounge for stuff,” she noted. Also, projects should take more than 10 minutes to complete, and they shouldn’t recycle tired ideas month after month. “In an age of Pinterest boards and Michael’s coupons, a craft box has to really rise above the pedestrian to make it worth the money,” she told us.

Homer told us that easy ordering and canceling are key. She stresses that ordering should be done completely online, with no need to call, and canceling should be a hassle-free online option. This seems obvious, but we were surprised to see some subscriptions that require phone calls or convoluted click-throughs to order, or don’t have proper e-commerce sites established. We immediately crossed those companies off our list.

We also looked for subscriptions that engage kids creatively, with projects and supplementary materials that seem more interesting than what we could put together ourselves with basic craft supplies (no paper plate projects, please). We kept an eye out for crafts that physically challenge younger kids (ages 3 to 8), with a variety of building, cutting, and creating involved. We looked for kits that are pretty gender-neutral. And we considered art supply, fiber art, and sticker options for older kids, who have outgrown the crafts that are so appealing to kids in preschool and early elementary.

After eliminating defunct companies, those that didn’t respond to emails, and those that didn’t meet our craft criteria, we had 14 subscription boxes to actually test. I did an initial evaluation of all 14, checking the contents inside, noting which had good directions and interesting supplies for the money, and noting which seemed the most age-appropriate. During this round we learned that there just aren’t many craft boxes for kids in the 9+ age category, and we decided to focus only on the boxes we had for kids in the 3 to 5 and 5 to 8 age ranges for our kid testing round.

I scheduled playdates with several kids across the two younger age groups. For the preschool group, we had a 3-year-old boy, four 5-year-old girls, and a 5-year-old boy come in to look at five different subscriptions. For the 5 to 8 group, we had the same five 5-year-olds, a 6-year-old girl, and a 7-year-old girl and boy. I laid out the boxes for each group on a table, let the kids open them all, and noted which they went right past and which they wanted to play with immediately. They answered simple questions about what drew them in, and how hard the projects looked. I timed how long the crafts kept their attention, how long it took to complete a craft, and how much help they needed from parents to finish.

Hannah and Harper work on the sock monkey project from our preschooler runner-up pick, Little Loving Hands. DoodleBug Busy Bag projects on the far right. Photo: Jackie Reeve

I took notes from five moms on which boxes they would spend money on, which activities they thought were kid appropriate, and what they would look for in a subscription box. My 5-year-old daughter was one of the testers, so after all the kids had a chance to play with the test boxes we went back and checked to see if we could find hidden gems or eliminate kits that didn’t have broad enough appeal. We tried a few more projects together, and after about a week total of testing I was able to narrow down our picks.

Companies sent us all of the original boxes we tested, but in order to assess the experience of actual subscribers, we ordered our top contenders to see if the websites were up-to-date, if cancellation policies were clear, if it was easy to give the boxes as gifts, and what the subscription options were. I also reached out to those companies to confirm and clarify any questions we had about refunds and cancellations.

Our pick for ages 3 to 5: Koala Crate

The Koala Crate packs the most original projects we found for the 3 to 5 age group. Each kit comes with great instructions and extension ideas. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

We think the Koala Crate from Kiwi Crate Inc. is the most creative, fun, and well-designed craft box subscription in the 3 to 5 age group. Although the quality of the materials are on a par with other offerings, the Koala Crate’s designs are more original. The projects are better vetted and perfect for this age group. We also like the magazine and other extras that extend the play in this subscription. Kiwi Crate Inc. also has the most user-friendly website of all the boxes that we tested.

Everything from the packaging to the craft materials are thoughtful and have been designed specifically for the Koala Crate target audience. Felt stickers and pipe cleaners aren’t the most original materials, but they’re appropriate for this age, and in this case used to enhance really good craft ideas. The monthly themes, like rainbows and camping, were appealing to our kid testers. The two boxes we tested were filled with colorful project ideas we hadn’t seen anywhere else, like a play campfire with tissue paper fire, or a tote bag dyed with tissue paper and water, and everything needed to complete them was in the box. A booklet contained clear directions for the “grown-up assistant” and noted how messy the project was and what developmental skills it used. None of the directions in the other boxes included that extra information.

Other boxes we tested, like DoodleBug Busy Bags and The Preschool Box, have themes like spring, or the alphabet. These are standard, perfectly good concepts little kids need to learn in school, but they’re less inspiring for a child’s at-home play time. And DoodleBug Busy Bags included repackaged activities that could be purchased at any craft store. Koala Crate really did provide new-to-kids projects that parents couldn’t find easily otherwise. And we feel that it’s well worth $20 a month.

Materials like felt decorating stickers and precut project pieces were typical of most boxes we tried, but the Koala Crate’s projects—like those from their reptile-themed box, pictured—were just a little brighter and a little more interesting. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Kiwi Crate Inc., the company behind the Koala Crate subscription, is one of the most established of the kid craft subscription companies. It’s not the oldest company on our list (Green Kid Crafts is two years older), but it develops its projects with input from educators and child development experts. And it’s been well-funded since its early days. Brenda Grunewald, the director of marketing at Kiwi Crate, told us, “We run kid testing every week to vet themes and concepts, and QA all materials. Kid feedback is a critical point in deciding which projects make it through to our subscribers.” Most of the other subscription companies we evaluated are much smaller operations, and don’t have the same level of vetting for their concepts and safety precautions. (One doctor-themed box we tried, from Bramble Box, included play prescription pills and a prescription pad, which our parent testers were understandably concerned by.) For this age group especially, we appreciate the resources a bigger company has to really edit and check their products for safe materials and safe play concepts.


The Koala Crate was the only subscription for this age group that combined full craft projects, imaginative play, and extra ideas that use stuff you probably have lying around the house.

The Koala Crate projects were age-appropriate for preschoolers, but honestly, this was true of all the boxes we tested for this age group. Most of the boxes had appropriate materials for small hands, with precut pieces that were easy to manipulate. The rainbow kit we tested had a simple fleece cloud pillow shape and the stuffing to fill it, with an easy velcro closure so kids can make the entire pillow with little to no help. Sticky felt rainbow pieces could be stuck right on the cloud, and within maybe 15 minutes kids have a finished craft that they can actually keep and use. Other projects in the boxes had more steps to challenge preschoolers than the other subscriptions we tested for this age, but they also taught new, interesting techniques that most of our kid testers hadn’t tried before. Even though many of the projects will need adult hands to help the youngest makers, one of our staffers has a Koala Crate subscription and confirms that her 3-year-old can sometimes (very proudly) finish a project or two by herself.


Our kid tester Hannah works on a rainbow-dyed tote using water and tissue paper squares. This Koala Crate project needed a little parent help to set up, but she made the tote all on her own. Photo: Jackie Reeve

Kiwi Crate also includes an issue of its Imagine! magazine, full of stories and additional activities tied to the month’s theme, and offers several other DIY project ideas on its website. The Koala Crate was the only subscription for this age group that combined full craft projects, imaginative play, and extra ideas that use stuff you probably have lying around the house.

Many of the crafts in the Koala Crate kits tie into the extended play activities in Imagine!, which might extend their shelf life. Others are practical items kids can use, like the rainbow pillow. We think the useful projects will outlast projects in other subscription boxes. But it’s probably inevitable that at least some of the Koala Crate projects will end up discarded, like a rainbow picture made using tissue paper squares. Aside from our runner-up pick, Little Loving Hands, which collects your child’s completed craft to send on to a charity, most craft subscription boxes for this age will likely result in some crafty litter.

Kiwi Crate was the easiest website to use for ordering, and its Help Center page goes well beyond typical FAQs. The software is current, and it’s simple to order the box as a gift. Subscribers can log in and cancel at any time with a month-to-month plan. If your child outgrows the Koala Crate projects, you can contact customer service and switch to a Kiwi Crate subscription instead.

Flaws but not dealbreakers
All of the Koala Crate’s and Kiwi Crate’s plans are prepaid and auto-renewing. There is a month-to-month plan, along with three-, six-, and 12-month plans. You cannot cancel until after your first auto-renewal, so while you can save some money on longer term plans, you might miss out on refunds if you sign up for three months or more and find that you want to stop subscribing. The themes are a surprise, so you cannot choose a theme or opt out of a particular month’s theme. If your child isn’t wild about a certain kit, you just have to wait and see what comes next month.

Runner-up for ages 3 to 5: Little Loving Hands

Our runner-up pick for ages 3 to 5, Little Loving Hands, includes a card explaining the month’s charity and why we should help. The language is simple and won’t scare young kids. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

If you’re unsure about having crafty clutter in your house, if you’d like some simpler craft projects for your preschoolers, or if you’re interested in a subscription that helps teach your kids about giving back, we suggest you consider Little Loving Hands, which we think is great. The Koala Crate crafts are more fun, and they’re definitely more inventive, but our testers were able to work on the Little Loving Hands projects a little more independently, and there was a clear motivation for finishing each one. Every month your child receives the supplies to make one or two crafts, and then they donate them to a charity.

We think kids will have an easier time completing Little Loving Hands projects on their own than with the Koala Crate crafts, but since children give them away as gifts parents may still want to supervise. We tested two different boxes, and our testers did more coloring than anything else, decorating a pre-assembled monkey doll with markers for one, and painting maracas for the other. But our testers were excited to make them, and happy to have projects they could start and finish with very little input from the grown-ups.

At around $25 a month this is a pricier option than Koala Crate, and the company has only been operating for a couple of years. We don’t know yet if Little Loving Hands will stay around the way Kiwi Crate and Green Kid Crafts have. The projects are simpler than the Koala Crate’s, with less thought put into child development or inspiring creativity. They’re designed to be practical for the charities involved, which limits the creativity for the kids making the projects. Each box includes a card that carefully explains the charity of the month, and why the people receiving these projects are struggling. We’d love to see a little more about the charities involved and and how previous donations were distributed.

A box from Little Loving Hands includes one or two portable projects to complete and send off to the month’s charity. Each box also includes directions, information about the charity, and a certificate to give kids after they’ve finished. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

We reached out to three charities Yeh has worked with—Operation Sock Monkey, Miracle Foundation, and Ronald McDonald House—and they all said the donation process was positive. Ashley Haustein, the marketing and development Manager for Miracle Foundation, received superhero capes for the orphans they support overseas. “Lily was easy to work with, and she made sure she found a craft that would be easy for us to transport to India, and useful for our kids,” she told us.

Lindsey Hodgson, the founder of Operation Sock Monkey, said the response from Little Loving Hands subscribers was overwhelming. She is sending a batch of the projects to India, for girls from low-income families who are receiving education assistance. “The sock monkeys from Little Loving Hands are small and fit inside a school bag/backpack that is distributed to participants,” she told us, “along with a monkey-shaped note of positivity/encouragement from an American child.” Both charities said they’ve received a couple hundred completed projects so far, and they are still arriving.

One of the parents thought the idea of donating was wonderful, but it did add extra pressure to try to get the projects finished on a timetable. “I love this, but I wouldn’t want to do it every month,” she told us. Parents do have the option of logging into their account each month to see which project and charity is coming next, and they can suspend the subscription and pick it back up next month. Subscriptions can also be canceled at any time. Families are asked to finish projects before the next box arrives, but Yeh told us the charities will still take them whenever you get them in the mail.

Each box is tax-deductible for the grown-ups and has a certificate of achievement for you to fill out for your child when they have completed the month’s project. It’s designed for kids ages 3 to 7, so it could grow with your kids beyond preschool.

Harper and Hannah working together to make an Operation Sock Monkey project from Little Loving Hands. Photo: Jackie Reeve

A prepaid shipping envelope is inside the box to send your child’s creations directly to a new charity each month.The main box is secular, but Little Loving Hands also offers a Jewish edition, with an extra card that includes lessons and stories from Judaism.

There are no extras to extend the activity, but there are instructions for each project. Our 5-year-old kid testers loved decorating the sock monkey we were given. And the idea of teaching young children about helping others was universally popular with our parent testers. “I love the idea of making something and then sending it to somebody,” one mom told us, adding that her 5-year-old daughter loves making crafts, and a chance to combine that with a lesson on giving back to others was really smart. “That’s amazing!”

Our pick for ages 5 to 8: Kiwi Crate

A Kiwi Crate subscription offers less craft-based kits than other services, with a well-rounded focus on science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Our kid testers were drawn to that mix of subjects. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

For the best balanced projects that excite older kids, Kiwi Crate is a standout pick as the best craft subscription box for kids ages 5 to 8. It incorporates whole STEAM activities, not just crafts, and the projects are better thought out than those offered by any other subscription we tested for this age. It’s well-priced, it kept our kid testers engaged, the activities had a purpose after they were completed, and we appreciate that the packaging and projects are gender-neutral.

Our older kid testers had strong ideas about what subjects and activities they like, compared with our preschool testers, and this definitely drove what kits they were drawn to. We had two 7-year-old testers, a boy and a girl, who both like science and math. They loved the Kiwi Crate pinball machine, which gives all the tools and materials needed to build a small, analog pinball game kids can actually play. It also included supplies to decorate the game’s backboard using a specific art technique described in the instructions. Another Kiwi Crate kit we tested was a chemistry lab, which might not feel crafty, but it included experiments for making color-changing drawings and secret messages using acids and bases. Projects like these went well beyond the techniques taught in the other boxes we tested for this age, and we think they kept the attention and focus of all of our testers because they weren’t strictly craft-based. We liked the way each kit covered several subjects, and all of the activities were fun and appealing to kids who have different interests.

A group of materials for building the Kiwi Crate pinball machine project.

Everything needed to build the Kiwi Crate pinball machine, which was incredibly popular with our young testers. Kiwi Crate has fewer projects each month than its competitors for this age group, but it kept our testers engaged and playing long after the project was built. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Other Kiwi Crate boxes have focused on the science of flight, with experiments and a kite you can make and decorate yourself. Or the human body, with felt organs you sew together and place on an anatomy chart. These were all ideas and projects we hadn’t seen anywhere else, and like the Koala Crate for younger kids, each box has a magazine with activities and play ideas to extend the box’s theme. None of the other subscriptions we looked at for this age came with a magazine. Some of the competitors had extra activities online, but these projects can get messy. We prefer having a booklet of extra ideas over keeping a computer near a messy workspace. Our parent testers were more impressed with the range of ideas in the Kiwi Crate kits than in any other box we tested with this group.

The price here is the same—$20 per month—as a Koala Crate subscription and our runner-up for this age group, Green Kid Crafts. Those crates come with three or more projects, compared with one lengthier project or two smaller ones in a Kiwi Crate kit. But we still think a Kiwi Crate subscription provides a lot of value for the money. The single projects here are more time consuming than in other boxes, and the educational content is deep. We like that kids learn how to make something, and then get some explanation of the science behind how it works.

Seven-year-old Charlie gets started building the pinball project. Photo: Jackie Reeve

All of the boxes we tested required some parental guidance, but Kiwi Crate’s parent involvement is more about collaborating, getting kids started with a project, and helping them troubleshoot than managing messiness and helping with pieces that aren’t easy to use. Some of the concepts and sections of a project can be completed alone, but not the entire box. This was definitely true with the chemistry lab, which we tested with a 5-year-old. She got the hang of the techniques, but we would never leave a child in this age range alone with the acids and bases included.

We also found that kids were more engaged with the Kiwi Crate completed projects than with the other kits we tested. If you’re interested in a subscription box that will get your kids playing independently, many of the Kiwi Crate projects, and the magazine that comes in each box, will give them great ideas and objects to play with. My 5-year-old was still playing with the pinball machine two weeks after we tested it.

Our Kiwi Crate kit kept three of our kid testers, ages 5, 6, and 7, busy and working together for at least half an hour. Photo: Jackie Reeve

We really appreciate that Kiwi Crate isn’t gender-biased, and we observed that our testers appreciated that, too. Subscriptions aimed at this age group generally had more challenging projects and techniques, and they often went beyond simple crafts into engineering and science or art experiments. We looked at strictly craft kits for this age that felt gendered, with colors and marketing aimed squarely at girls, and we wanted a pick that was appealing to all kids, including girls who don’t like pink.

Flaws but not dealbreakers
Just like with Kiwi’s Koala Crate, multiple-month subscriptions are prepaid and automatically renew. If you want to cancel your subscription, according to the Kiwi Crate website, “Auto-renewing subscriptions (pay every 3, 6 or 12 months) are only eligible for cancellation after the initial prepaid term has been completed.” You have to stay on top of your subscription and cancel at the right time if you decide not to continue. And if your kids don’t like this box from the start, you’ll have to wait until your credit card is charged again before you can cancel.

Runner-up for ages 5 to 8: Green Kid Crafts

Green Kid Crafts offers more craft projects in each box, plus an option to order extras for multiple kids. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Like Kiwi Crate, Green Kid Crafts offers craft projects with a STEAM focus. But the concepts aren’t as unique as in the Kiwi Crate kits. We felt that Green Kid Crafts focused on information and general science themes, like space or dinosaurs (the two that we tested), which is honestly fine (and really fun!) for the younger side of this age group. But the Kiwi Crate kits were higher-level, giving kids more of a chance to explore scientific concepts, like the physics of flight, something new for most kids this age. The Green Kid Crafts projects and materials were less visually appealing to our kid testers. They really enjoyed the projects once we explained them and got started, but they didn’t gravitate to these boxes when we first opened them.

The boxes are intended for kids from 3 to 10, so if your kids fall in different age ranges they can still work together. Each box is about $20 a month, same as Kiwi Crate, but for an extra $10 a month you can buy an additional set of all the materials for a second child. We liked that option for siblings who may not want to share projects.

Up to eight activities come in each box, and each comes neatly packaged in a separate bag with all the materials and instructions. It’s easy to pick a project, grab a bag, and get started. If you have a playdate, or a family holiday with lots of kids, there are enough interesting projects to share a single box. If you subscribe, you’ll find extra activities and suggestions online for each month’s theme, plus a host of unrelated DIY projects. A Kiwi Crate subscription also includes DIY project ideas online; none of the other boxes we tested for this age had those extras.

A typical Green Kid Crafts box has a variety of projects, plus everything you need to make them—including the scissors. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Penny Bauder, the founder of Green Kid Crafts, is an environmental scientist, and she does incorporate some environmental awareness into the projects. Green Kid Crafts advertises that it is a “green” company, which we know is a tricky claim to make. The company’s website has a list of steps it has taken to justify the claim, like offsetting 100 percent of the carbon dioxide it generates. But the environmental aspect isn’t what we liked about this subscription.

The company offers more gift options than Kiwi Crate, with about 16 “discovery boxes” you can buy separately from a monthly subscription. Plus the subscription option to double the materials for $10 if you have another child. Both companies make it easy to give a subscription as a gift, but we can see the appeal in the extra choices from Green Kid Crafts.

We think at least one project in each box can be completed independently by the youngest kids, and that was a bonus. The dinosaur box had a “paleontology kit” with clay and macaroni to use as dinosaur bones, and we think most 3-year-olds would be able to do this one without a grownup (if they’re past the stage of putting small objects in their mouths). Our 5-year-old tester was able to complete most of the dinosaur box on her own. And most of the projects feel a little more like a craft (like making papier-mâché dinosaur eggs) than in the Kiwi Crate boxes, which offers a lot of building and experimenting.

But, again, the ideas from Green Kid Crafts aren’t that original. Clay and macaroni fossils feel like something you’d find on Pinterest, and some of our parent testers just didn’t think that it was original enough to subscribe. And the box contents had less visual appeal than the Kiwi Crate kits. But it’s incredibly convenient to have several themed craft projects with supplies already assembled for you, ready to go with educational materials included. The website is straightforward to use, but it also looks less modern than Kiwi Crate’s. After you receive your first box you can log in and cancel your subscription at any time. Green Kid Crafts has been around longer, since 2009 (Kiwi Crate was founded in 2011). It’s a good alternative if you’d like more activities in a subscription box, or if you have multiple kids.

The competition

Doodle Crate is Kiwi Crate’s craft box for kids ages 9 to 16. In the end we opted not to test boxes in this age range because there just wasn’t enough good competition, but we felt like this was a true craft subscription for older kids. We received a soapmaking kit to test, and we liked that the final product was useable. Some other Doodle Crate box themes have included ink wash painting and making a wooden clock. Based on what we saw in one box, we’d recommend this subscription if you’re looking for a gift for pre-teens and teens.

Outside the Box Creation offers the best art supply box we tried for kids ages 5 through 11. Each box includes all the supplies to learn a new art concept, with clear instructions and a picture book. Some of the projects, like the printmaking box we tested, are messy and need parent setup so they don’t ruin the kitchen table.

The youngest Ann Williams subscription box, aimed at kids ages 6 through 8, was extremely well thought of by our 6-year-old tester and one of our 5-year-old testers, both girls. The projects were fun and creative, but everything felt marketed straight to girls. None of the boys wanted to go near this box in testing. We opted for boxes that were more gender-neutral and easier for early elementary hands.

Bramble Box was a huge hit with our 3- to 5-year-old testers, but our parent testers and Sweethome staffers had serious concerns about the doctor’s office kit we tested, which came with play prescription pills (pompoms) and a play prescription pad. None of the parents we spoke to wanted a toy that might encourage kids to play with real pills at home. Even if the kids loved these boxes, it wasn’t worth the risk. These boxes are more dress-up, pretend play than crafts, but the biggest issue was the editing process.

The Preschool Box had great educational materials and crafts that kids could complete themselves, but it felt more like a box of lesson plans than a fun crafting treat. But if you’re looking for an educational box for preschoolers that will help them with numbers, the alphabet, and many of the concepts they’ll need to know for kindergarten, this would be a fantastic subscription for your family.

Pipsticks is a sticker-only subscription that can really be customized for kids of all ages. And it’s only about $10 a month. But for the two age groups in this guide, most of our parents worried that it would just be more stickers cluttering the house. We actually think it’s a great bet for older kids, who may want to customize their school supplies and won’t necessarily attach stickers to every surface in the house.

DoodleBug Busy Bags from Kidable Adventures is a tote bag filled with seasonal crafts for kids ages 3 and older, and we were excited to test it for our 3 to 5 age group. But everything in the bag came straight from Oriental Trading, complete with their directions. We wanted original content.

We looked at Think With Art for our 5 to 8 age group. It had a fair number of art supplies for the $30 price tag, and it came with an open-ended storybook that invited kids to continue the story through art. But we didn’t like it as much as the Outside the Box Creation kit we tried.

The older Ann Williams subscription box came with a fun project that was purely crafting and would keep kids 9+ busy for a while. But again, these feel heavily marketed to girls. And the older box comes with only one project, which makes it feel less like a craft subscription and more like a single project kit you could order online or pick up at a craft store.

The Young Artist box from Paletteful Packs was one of three art supply subscriptions we looked at. It’s also the third box we considered for kids 9+, but it didn’t arrive in time for kid testing. It came with no instructions, just a few good quality art supplies, and we were really looking for something to give kids more guidance. For $30 we wanted just a little bit more.



  1. Melissa Wiley, author and homeschooler, email interview
  2. Holly Homer, co-author of 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!, email interview
  3. Sajith Joy, occupational therapist at Advanced Therapy of America, email interview
  4. Editors, 5 Developmental Benefits of Arts and Crafts, North Shore Pediatric Therapy
  5. Grace Hwang Lynch, The Importance of Art in Child Development, PBS