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Oyster STEAM Subscription “Detective” Review – April 2020

Becca Peterson
ByBecca PetersonApr 15, 2020 | 2 comments

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Oyster is a monthly STEAM-based "profession" subscription for kids ages 5-9. Each month you will receive an educational kit made with the help of professionals and rigorously tested by kids, which includes equipment, information, and experiments to try out a different profession. According to Oyster, kids closer to 9 will be able to complete the tasks independently, while younger kids will require participation from their parents.

This box is being reviewed thanks to MSA reader request!

My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

About Oyster

The Subscription Box: Oyster Kit

The Cost: $39.95 a month + free shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.

The Products: A new profession to explore every month through STEAM learning materials, online tests, and DIY projects

Ships to: The U.S. only

Oyster "Detective" Kit April 2020 Review

While we have kept pretty busy the last month at home, Hank and Charlie were extra excited about this month's Oyster Kit to give us a change of pace. We have already become doctors, dentists, lab techs, artists, archaeologists, paleontologists, veterinarians, and animators so we couldn't wait to add detective to our resumes!


Safety first! This kit sometimes includes a lot of small pieces and is recommended for kids 5-9. The opposing side of the safety sheet includes instructions on how to use QR codes, which bring you to bonus material!

Onto the fun stuff:


Detective Pack

This month we received a "Top Secret" file that included a handy dandy pamphlet filled with information to teach us all about what a detective is, what they do, and how they find clues. It also included the information on how to put together the periscope craft, as well as the Morse code necklace. Along with the pamphlet, we received punch out pieces for a composite sketch, and items to aid in cracking the case! See how we used them below!

Hank was really excited to learn about being a detective, and even asked if he could read the instructions himself!


Case File

After we read the pamphlet about what a detective does, Hank was eager to jump into the case file. We received "The Curious Case of the Stolen Diamond" and got straight to work! In this thick card stock booklet, we received all the information needed to solve the case. First, we read the included report, and turned the page to find a list of suspects. The following page taught us about alibis, and had security camera footage to help us narrow down our suspect list. Next up is the really fun stuff!

MICROSHOT and Slides

For the first actual activity, we received a plastic MICROSHOT tool used to magnify evidence. We really loved the fact that it was portable - something every budding detective needs! We also received a set of 4 slides with evidence to help us solve the case.


Hank loved learning about evidence. He spent a good chunk of time examining the slides and had a great time taping them to his case file and labeling them. He truly felt like a detective solving a real case!

Magnifying Glass and Ink

On the following page we learned all about fingerprints. Hank was shocked to learn that no two people have exactly the same fingerprint pattern. He also was found it interesting that all detectives and police officers must have their fingerprints in the police database as well as criminals!

Our case file is really shaping up into something, isn't it?!

In the detective pack, we received a small fingerprint on card stock. The next step in solving our case was to look at the fingerprint, go back to the suspect page, and see if we could find a match. Lo and behold we found the first burglar! We were able to put his portrait in the "Guilty" section! One down, one to go!

Next, we learned about witnesses and statements. Because our first witness was worried about revenge from the burglars, they would only give their statement in code. We received a perforated card to place on top of the message to read certain words. This got one of our suspects off the hook!

The second witness also had a coded message, this time we needed to use the special red magnifying glass to solve this code! It too helped us narrow down our suspect list!


The third witness used Morse code! The booklet gave us a lesson on what Morse code is and taught us how to decode the encrypted message, which gave us another clue! Another suspect eliminated!


Morse Code Necklace Kit

Taking a break from solving the case for a minute, we received a black necklace cord and a bag of blue, red, and white wooden beads. As part of our Morse code lesson, we received these supplies to create our very own necklace with a word or name on it in Morse Code!


Hank thought this was super cool and was really interested in this communication method! Charlie was jealous he didn't get to make one (he was napping) but they sent plenty of beads, so that is on the agenda for today!

And here are our suspects! We received the gate-looking stickers and I wasn't sure what they were for, but Hank knew exactly where to put them! I think he would make a much better detective than I would!


And just when I thought we were done, we flipped the book over and found the "Wanted" poster we needed to fill out using the punch-out pieces. While the directions say to use sticky pads to attach it, we only received a small roll of tape, so we used a glue stick instead.

Tape Roll

We received this roll of tape in our kit, and  I'm not quite sure why. I know the composite sketch says to use sticky pads to attach the portrait pieces, but I found a glue stick to work much better. It seems like washi tape with little house tops on it, which is cute and will be a great addition to my craft bin!

Periscope Pieces

While we didn't need this piece of equipment to solve our case, we learned that some detectives use periscopes to help keep an eye on suspects. Hank knew all about this, as we recently watched an episode of "Curious George" that involved a homemade periscope, so he was pretty pumped to make one of his own!


The assembly was kind of tricky with this project. The tabs didn't quite fit how I would have expected them to, but after a little bit of bending, I ended up getting it together. Once we put the mirrors on the end pieces, it held everything into place perfectly, and now Hank can spy on his brother to see what he's up to!

Verdict: Oyster Kit was so much fun this month. Hank mentioned this was the best month ever! While we didn't receive a ton of physical items, the entire experience of solving a case and learning about various topics really had Hank intrigued. The entire box took us about an hour and a half to complete. Not only did this box give us valuable information and keep us engaged, but the MICROSHOT, slides, magnifying glass, and periscope have been involved in hours of detective work outside of this box. Plus Hank loves his coded necklace and has been wearing it daily because he thinks it's pretty awesome!

While I'm sure you could come up with a case to solve using the web, the way this month's box was curated was fun, educational, and laid out perfectly. It was awesome to see Hank getting into it and really using his brain to find out who was guilty and who wasn't. I also liked the items they included that are able to be used around the house. It has really made staying home a lot more fun, and I think it was definitely worth the $39.95 price.

To Wrap Up:

Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Possibly; it depends on kit availability.

Check out all of our Oyster Kit reviews and our list of 2020's best subscription boxes for kids!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

What do you think of Oyster?

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"We create boxes related to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) professions for kids 3 – 12 years old. We help parents spend quality time with their children and develop their child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills and as well as their creativity through play. Each kit p... read more.
Becca Peterson
Becca Peterson
While I am taking a time-out from being a Clinical Laboratory Scientist, I am currently staying at home with my 2 sweet boys! My first subscription was Julep thanks to happening upon the MSA website, and it all went downhill from there! I have subscribed to Ipsy, Boxycharm, Degustabox, Julep, Graze, Bluum, Walmart, and more because I love a good surprise! I truly am a subscription addict!

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This is my favorite sub and I don’t even have any kids, lol. I love following along with your boys, great review!

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Thank you so much Marie!! ❤️❤️❤️ I really appreciate that!

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