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Tinker Crate (Ages 9-16): Is This The Right KiwiCo Box For My Family?

Brandi Dowell
ByBrandi DowellApr 20, 2021 | 0 comments

Tinker Crate (Ages 9-16): Is This The Right KiwiCo Box For My Family?

Tinker Crate (Ages 9-16)

Is This The Right KiwiCo Box For My Family?

We have explored a lot of different concepts through various Tinker Crate boxes, and while my children are much younger than the targeted tween age range of 9-16, they have certainly enjoyed these projects, too!

Since KiwiCo has so many different lines to choose from, I wanted to share our experience over time with you and highlight some of our favorite projects so that you can decide if this is the right crate for your child!

COUPON: Get 50% off your 1st month! No coupon needed - just use this link.

by Brandi Dowell, Mother to 3 Curious Kiddos
April 20, 2021| Leave a comment

About Tinker Crate

The Subscription Box: Tinker Crate

The Cost: $19.95 per month + free shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.

COUPON: Get 50% off your 1st month! No coupon needed - just use this link.

The Products: Innovative hands-on STEM projects for kids, plus the materials and detailed instructions your child needs to complete them. You’ll also get a “Tinker Zine” full of educational information and additional activities.

Ships to: The U.S. for free, Canada for $3.95 per month, and worldwide from $4.95-$6.95.

Interested in the monthly box? Check out our past reviews here.

Pros & Cons

The Pros

  • There is a great range of projects that are engaging for children.
  • You get to explore STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) concepts and problem-solving with a hands-on approach.
  • While they guide you through the project, there is usually a lot of open-ended time afterward for “tinkering” and exploring the concept independently.
  • This box would be great as part of a homeschool curriculum.
  • The boxes are well-organized, the materials are high-quality, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow.
  • They provide all of the materials for you, it’s rare to need anything from home for these.
  • Some projects can be easily adapted for younger children with some assistance from the adult, but older kids should have no problem completing these mostly independently.

The Cons

  • There aren’t a ton of extras with this subscription. Once you’ve built your project, it’s up to your child whether or not they want to continue exploring further, which is great for some, but might be harder for others who aren’t as easily motivated!
  • While the age range goes up to 16 and they are age-appropriate, I think that some projects might be too simple to keep an older child engaged as long as it would a younger child.

Is It Worth It?

  • Yes, this is a great way to get some STEM exploration in and learn a little while having fun!

I’d Recommend This If

  • You have a child with an interest in STEM.
  • You are looking to engage your child with educational materials.
  • You have a child that likes to tinker and work with their hands to create.

How Does it Work?

Each month you’ll receive a box delivered to your door containing all of the high-quality materials you’ll need for that month’s STEM project inside (with the exception of water or other household items). Crates are assigned based on your history so that you never receive the same crate twice.

What’s in Each Box?

The materials you will receive each month will depend on the project you receive, but each box will include an instruction sheet along with your Tinker Zine which is full of educational information. Each box also has a page that you can access through your account, which includes a video tutorial and extras related to your projects.

How Will I Know What To Do?

This full-page sheet of instructions provides directions that are broken down into steps along with a list of the contents in your box. The steps are illustrated and there are helpful tips and checkpoints along the way to help make sure you are on the right track.

Is This Actually Educational?

Yes! The Tinker Zine they provide includes tons of great educational information related to your project and the concept you are exploring. They make it engaging and relevant and even provide some suggested reading and videos at the back if your child wants to continue learning more.

Do I Need Anything From Home?

No! They really do provide everything for you and it is so neatly organized making it easy to find the pieces you need. Everything fits together easily; often times there will be spots marked where you need to place adhesive pieces, and other helpful details to ensure a successful build. They even include batteries if your project requires them, which is very convenient!

What Types Of Concepts Will We Explore?

We have done such a great range of projects with this box. We have explored the concepts of light, sound, pulleys, mazes, lasers, 3D design, and more. They always find a project that helps us explore these STEM concepts with a hands-on approach to really see it in action. Seeing these concepts applied makes for a lasting learning experience.

Fun With Machines

Throughout our time as subscribers, we have built a lot of machines that have been fun to play with. Who doesn’t want to build their own Walking Robot? My daughter had a great time with the Flying Disc Machine, and was able to explore the ideas of distance and velocity in a really fun way. The Spin Art Machine was another really cool project that allowed us to turn our STEM into STEAM, which I always appreciate as someone who loves art. They had so much fun with it and it’s much cooler to build your own than to buy one at the store!

Fun With Light

There have been a lot of fun and creative projects that had to do with light. We were even able to create our own Planetarium! We had a ton of fun with the Glowing Pendulum and its glowing designs, but one project that we still use and have displayed is our Bubble Lamp. It’s our very own little lava lamp that we operate with a pump and it’s so soothing and relaxing to watch and play with!

Questions You May Have

Can I use this with multiple children?

  • This is a box best suited to one child unless your children are really good at working together and sharing! Since my children were younger, I would usually do the build by myself, and then let them play and explore separately and independently.

Are the projects engaging even though they are educational?

  • They really are! They take a STEM concept and apply it to something fun which makes it incredibly engaging and creates a lasting learning experience.

How much knowledge of STEM do we need?

  • None! The Tinker Zine gives you all the relevant information so that you can discuss the concepts at hand without doing any prior research. Then the instructions sheet provides all of the steps to build your project.

Will this work if my child is younger than the intended age?

  • Some projects are simple enough for younger children to participate in, while others would require some adult assistance in order for them to complete them. This just depends on your comfort level and how willing to get involved you are!

How much work is in it for me?

  • There is no planning necessary on your part, but some supervision and occasional assistance may be needed. Otherwise, the box is pretty open and go!

How long does each box take?

  • The amount of time it takes per box really differs, but typically the activity requires about 45 minutes. Then children can spend longer tinkering with their project and operating it after they are finished, so this time could extend for longer depending on their interest and creativity!

Is everything I need in the box?

  • Yes, everything you need (with the exception of a few things from home, like water or scissors) is included in the box.

The Verdict

Tinker Crate really finds a way to make STEM exciting for any child no matter what their interests are! We have explored very basic concepts like pulleys, sound, and light, but in fun and creative ways that often show real-life applications which make them engaging and relevant for children. They send you everything you need in a box that is well organized, with instructions that are easy to follow, and they even send a whole Zine full of educational information to help them understand the concepts. While some children’s learning may not extend past the build a little bit of tinkering, other children may find themselves incredibly inspired and take this knowledge further. That’s what makes this ideal for a homeschool curriculum. Any child interested in STEM or who likes to learn by building with their hands will appreciate this fun and creative box!

If this isn’t the monthly subscription box for you, check out some of the other KiwiCo boxes for different age groups:

COUPON: Get 50% off your 1st month! No coupon needed - just use this link.

What do you think of Tinker Crate?

Tinker Crate inspires kids to explore and learn about science, engineering, and technology—and have fun doing it. Every month, a new crate to help kids develop a tinkering mindset and creative problem solving skills. Suitable for children ages 9 and up.
Brandi Dowell
Brandi Dowell
Brandi has loved the idea of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013. Now that she’s a mother of 3, she loves finding unique boxes to educate and entertain her kids while enjoying some more pampering boxes for herself. Her favorites these days are Lillypost, KiwiCo boxes & Wicked Good Perfume!

Brandi Dowell
Brandi Dowell
Brandi has loved the idea of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013. Now that she’s a mother of 3, she loves finding unique boxes to educate and entertain her kids while enjoying some more pampering boxes for herself. Her favorites these days are Lillypost, KiwiCo boxes & Wicked Good Perfume!
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Our reviewers research, test, and recommend the best subscriptions and products independently; click to learn more about our editorial guidelines. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.