This is one of the latest subscription box for kids from Pley: the National Geographic Kids box! Each Junior Explorers box is designed for kids ages 5-11 and includes activities, toys & accessories, including educational digital games.
This box was sent to us for review purposes. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
This is a review of the Mission: Amazon Box, which is the 6th box a paying subscriber would receive.
About National Geographic Kids Box
The Subscription Box: National Geographic Kids Box
The Cost: $19.99/month + $4.95 shipping
The Products: Each box is designed for kids ages 5-11 and includes activities, toys & accessories, including educational digital games.
Ships To: US Only
One of the things I enjoy about the National Geographic Kids Box from Pley is the packaging. The suitcase-style box is super cute and really fun for imaginative and dress-up play. The case is just big enough for an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper inside, and about 1 to 1.5" inches thick... so it's not big enough to say, pack for vacation or anything. But it would be an awesome box for putting together your own road-trip activity kit!
Mission Amazon Booklet
The booklet is a larger format (the size of a regular coloring book) and contains all the info you need to access the online game. There are also some paper activities, like a coloring page and some puzzles.
The booklet encourages you to use some of the other items you'll receive, like your animal trading cards.
This month's mission is to locate a missing jaguar that has been displaced by deforestation in the Amazon.
Online Mission & Game
A big part of this subscription is not in the box at all: it's an online game. This is where the actual "mission" in each box happens!
The missions are a mix of narration and simple click-through type navigation. The storyline is designed to be very kid friendly, with some simple games to keep them interested as they progress.
Real photos and facts about the habitat and animal life are included as you go, too.
This is the heart of the mission this month: finding a missing jaguar.
And finally, there are some "just for fun" games to play, too. Some of these were more challenging than I expected!
Subscribers can log in anytime to access the games and past missions, so it's something your child can return to whenever they like.
Animal Fact Cards
These come in every box and are perforated so you can separate them and keep them. Most kids I know in this age range LOVE collecting things and learning fun facts, so these are always fun to look over together.
The back of the cards has a National Geographic and Pley graphic.
Stickers are typically included each month as well! There's not really an activity associated with them, but they are fun to use to decorate your case (or cut out and include in your geocache). My son loves stickers so we're always happy to see these, and to talk about all the animals shown!
This month came with a new IRL activity too: geocaching! My dad used to be really into geocaching with my little sister and my nieces and nephews, so I'm actually pretty excited to try this with my son. Not to mention, I'm happy this box that focuses so much on online content is trying to get kids outside too!
If you've never heard of geocaching, the basic idea is that it's a real-life treasure hunt! People all around the world hide small treasures and items and mark them online with GPS coordinates. Some of the caches are super elaborate, and others are simple containers containing small toys or notes. Then other people make a game of finding them and putting new treasures in their place!
The actual container included in the box is a small tin with a sticker label. I wish it were something a little more exciting I guess, but it does the job and this IS meant to be a fun and inexpensive hobby... you don't really need a lot of special equipment to go geocaching. If you have a smartphone, you don't even need a GPS device.
(I do however think I need this waterproof geocaching container shaped like a chewed piece of gum. Ha!)
Do you go geocaching with your kids? Share your tips and some fun ideas in the comments!
We have one more activity this month: origami! My son (3) is definitely too young for this, but this pack of brightly colored papers made me feel nostalgic. I used to LOVE origami as a kid.
It feels a little pre-packaged though, and like it's not super connected to an Amazon mission specifically. Would my niece love doing this anyway? Totally! But as a parent I was scratching my head just a bit about how this fits in with the educational storyline this month.
It comes with folding instructions to make your very own parrot! Which makes sense because:
National Geographic Kids Zebra T-shirt
The scarlet macaw is the star of this month's tee! Every box contains a t-shirt; you select your child's size when you sign up. (Unlike the other Pley subscriptions, these are branded for National Geographic Kids and not the box itself.)
These are some of my favorite subscription box kids' tees. They're always nicely designed and good quality, plus the educational aspect doesn't hurt either. 😉
Finally, you get a fun certificate of achievement for completing your mission!
Verdict: Overall, I thought this National Geographic Kids Box was good but not my favorite so far. While I'm actually super excited about the geocaching activity (I love it when boxes for kids encourage them to get outside!), thematically it just didn't seem to all tie together as well as it could have.
I've been happier with past boxes that include paperback books because those have a bit more value and are things that my kid will return to time and time again. Despite that, I think the mission of this box is a good one, and there aren't a lot of other subscription options for kids interested specifically in biology and the animal world. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I'd have LOVED to get this in the mail!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? If you subscribe to this box, the Amazon Box will be the sixth box you receive in the series. (All subscribers receive boxes in the same order, starting with box #1.)
Is the National Geographic Kids Box worth it? Educational boxes are tough because I always think a lot of the value comes from having a kid who is interested and likely to actually do the things in the box. That is totally dependent on your kid and their interests! If I assume the tee is worth even just $10 (on the low side for a branded tee), then I'm satisfied that the activities included (online mission, origami, geocaching, collect animal cards) are worth the remaining $15.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add National Geographic Kids Box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of the National Geographic Kids Box?