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Do you have any mini mathematicians, aspiring artists, or future scientists in the family? It can sometimes feel like your kids are being pigeonholed into choosing a single subject to focus on, but STEAM allows for a wide range of focus to ensure your child has a well-rounded education.
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, and educators all over the world are raving about the benefits of introducing kids to its principles early on.
If you want your kids to get stuck on STEAM, KiwiCo is a kid-focused subscription box service that delivers creative, hands-on projects to your door every month. KiwiCo has projects for all ages that are carefully curated to celebrate kids' natural creativity and curiosity, and its themed Kiwi Crates are created for kids aged 5-8. All crates conveniently contain everything you need, along with inspiration for other projects on the box's theme. If you're particularly inspired by one theme or want to try a seasonal project, there's also the option to buy a one-off box in the KiwiCo store.
KiwiCo's hands-on projects are a great resource for at-home learning and are designed to promote important STEAM concepts to kids in a creative, age-appropriate way.
Why Is STEAM Important?
Research shows that STEAM plays a role in developing lots of important qualities in children. It promotes problem-solving, critical thinking skills, careful risk-taking, collaboration with others and working through a creative process. Through STEAM education, kids are encouraged to be curious, seek solutions and ask thought-provoking questions.
If you've heard of STEM but not STEAM, you may be wondering how they are different. Including the Arts is more than just adding an extra letter to the acronym. STEM focuses largely on learning concrete concepts and facts, whereas the Arts are known for teaching kids to investigate these concepts through curiosity and problem-solving. Focusing on these soft skills enables each child to gain more independence, confidence and the ability to find out the answer themselves instead of being handed it.
Why Use KiwiCo Specifically?
KiwiCo subscriptions are available in a range of lines to cater to different age groups and interests. Each educational subscription box includes all the supplies you need, so you don't need to worry about leaving the house for extra supplies. You'll find detailed kid-friendly instructions, and an educational magazine filled with content to learn even more about the crate’s theme.
Mom of two Amanda from New York had never tried KiwiCo before but was excited to find her first crate on her doorstep recently.
'My son, Burl, is a very curious and bright 5-year-old, who shows a real interest in math and spatial relationships,' she says. 'He also has a lot of enthusiasm for art, and so all things STEAM are right up his alley.
'I love the design of the box. Just by looking at the outside, my son got excited to see what fun might await him. I thought it was really cool that there were more than one activity within the box. So digging in together, my son seemed happy to be able to choose which part of the box to tackle first.' Their box was air-themed, with rockets, a kite, and a workbook based around the theme. 'I was most excited by the rockets, but he went for the kite, probably just to be contradictory,' she adds.
'I think it took us 45 minutes to complete the kite and the rocket sections. He hasn't done much of the workbook yet, but I know it's one of those things he will rediscover one day and enjoy.
'Since my son is on the younger side, he required hand holding most of the way. We were in kind of a rush to play before bed, however, so he may have had more luck doing it on his own, if we'd had more time. But it was a great mother-son project! He was very patient with it all and seemed to enjoy every step. Shooting off the rockets was, unsurprisingly, the highlight. We immediately lost one behind a shelving unit, alas.'
Elsewhere in New York, mom Deborah found that her 5-year-old daughter was much more interested in their KiwiCo box than her 8-year-old brother.
'Sydney is 5, she is curious and super bright. She wants to do everything and when this kit arrived, she was thrilled to open it,' Deborah explains. Their main project was a marble run, and there was also a second project, dip dye wood art, which was a quick activity that Sydney was able to do herself. 'She wants to understand and learn everything, and has the patience to do a kit like this.' She adds that the instruction booklet is useful but a parent may need to help younger kids with it, as she did with Sydney.
'I was reading the instructions and Sydney got all the pieces out. She’s very independent and was trying to do as much of it herself as possible. She was able to basically do it herself with some support from me as it’s mostly quite simple. Some of it was tricky so I did those bits and then when the marble run was built she was able to use it herself.'
Deborah understands the importance of STEAM activities and enjoyed watching Sydney embrace her problem-solving skills and complete a project.
'I loved doing the activity with her. I loved her feeling like she was engineering and experimenting. We have a book called Rosie Revere Engineer and so with that kind of encouragement she knows that building is exciting.
'It took around 10-15 mins to complete, so quite a quick activity. But I found it to be useful and educational, as you can revisit the activity.' She adds that Sydney felt a sense of achievement at the end and clearly enjoyed seeing her work come together.
Vicky's children Sam and Libby (aged 9 and 8) hadn't had much exposure to STEAM previously, so she wanted to see if they'd enjoy KiwiCo. Delivered to their doorstep in Brooklyn, in their crate was a rollercoaster cannonball launcher. She notes that it's a great activity for developing other skills, not just building up concrete knowledge of STEAM topics.
'It’s a great way to keep the kids entertained, especially during cold weather! The kids engage their brains, use problem solving and fine motor skills and have fun doing it.
'The instructions were easy to follow and the kids could build without much adult input. It was well designed and actually functioned when built. They came back to use it after and showed us when we got back from work. They played with it for the next few days too, and hopefully will continue to do so.' But it's not just for the kids; the kids-at-heart appreciated it too, with Vicky adding, 'I enjoyed trying their contraptions out post-build!'
As the holidays fast approach, Vicky is eager to share the joy of these monthly science and engineering projects. 'I would definitely buy this for friends and family and their young children,' she says. 'I may get a subscription for family members for Christmas.'
Over in Tennessee, Kristina and her son Hayden, aged 6, received a space-themed crate, which contained a solar spinner that allowed them to build a mechanical model of the sun, Earth and moon, and a light-up constellation lantern. As a previous KiwiCo user, Kristina already had experience with this type of subscription box.
'The design is great and my favorite part is the creativity behind the project,' she says. 'It's really very intuitive, though I wouldn't call it simple as it takes a chunk of concentrated time.' She goes on to explain that some aspects of the box required her help, while other elements were easy for Hayden to complete alone.
'For the constellation lantern I helped only a little bit. He loved using the star stickers and also the electrical component of the tea light and on/off switch. It was a bit tricky to put the insert into the frame but he loved inserting the lantern papers. Of course, he lit up when it lit up.' She adds that she needed to guide him more while he was making the solar spinner.
'I needed to help a bit more throughout and guide which parts go where, since there were tiny parts. He really liked the concept of the gears once they were in place and I think it helped him understand the mechanism behind how it worked. He felt a large sense of accomplishment with this one.' Overall, the box was a big success, and Kristina's younger 3-year-old son has even continued to play with the lantern too.
Kim is also a mom of two children and based in New York. Her kids are aged 5 and 8 and in her words, 'love to build, construct and "do science"'. It makes sense that KiwiCo is a great fit for them, and Kim has even given it as a gift before too.
'We received two projects: a robot snake that was a bit more advanced — although the kids could totally do it, led by my 8-year-old with minimal help by me — and another project that played with light and imaging,' she explains. 'The wiring for the snake was the only tricky part. I just had to remind them to slow down and read and look carefully.' STEAM projects like this are a great way to teach kids patience and develop their confidence with understanding slightly more challenging topics.
'They were incredibly proud and could not contain their excitement!' She says, mentioning how the snake project in particular has become a staple in their toy rotation after they spent hours driving it around the apartment. 'They assembled it in one sitting, but have returned to it several times, sometimes switching out the skins and making different mazes for it to move through.'
Mom-of-three Jen from North Carolina tested out two boxes for her children Sophia (age 8) and Connor (age 6). Sophia likes art, science and dance, while her little brother loves dinosaurs, cars and coloring. Together, they enjoy building LEGO projects, so STEAM projects are a great activity for both of them.
Sophia got stuck into a space-themed box, which contained the components for a solar system mobile, while Connor used the 'sweeper' box, which had all the supplies to make a mechanical sweeper. While she had tentatively high hopes, Jen was still surprised at how intuitive the instructions were for both her kids.
'I will be honest — I fully expected to have to help out a lot. I was trying to juggle working on our crates after a long day at school and work, and in between cooking dinner. I was very surprised how well my kids were able to build their projects — especially Sophia. I only had to help her find one foam piece, and the rest she did on her own.' She explains how well her 6-year-old handled the project too, 'Connor also did a great job following directions. I did have to help him manipulate some of the pieces and use the very tiny rubber bands, but he did most of it on his own.
'I really loved the step-by-step directions; including what pieces were needed, and drawings of how to assemble. I really liked how in the sweeper crate it had the green check mark by how it should look, vs. the red x. That was very helpful for Connor. The simplicity of the crates allowed the kids to take ownership of their products and put most of it together themselves.
'I think parents would be pleasantly surprised with KiwiCo. The boxes are simple and packed well,' she explains. For Jen, the value of KiwiCo lies in its convenience; how every box includes all the supplies you need.
'As a busy mom of 3 — I also have an 18-month-old — I love activities where I do not have to come up with a bunch of materials from the house. Everything that they needed was in the box. They were able to easily locate items they needed, as well as open the bags.'
Jen talks about how engaged and excited her children were, wanting to learn more about their topics and feeling accomplished when they finished their project.
'Both Sophia and Connor were so proud of themselves for building their projects. I heard "I did it all by myself Mommy!" many times. They even complimented each other on how hard they worked. I was very impressed.' She comments that Connor took a particular liking to his project and it even had to sit at the dinner table with them!
As an elementary school teacher, Jen understands the value of teaching kids STEAM and STEM skills. She appreciates the longevity of each project, and how it promotes further learning.
'I really loved the explore booklets included in each crate. There is so much more that can be done after the building of the products — so many extension activities to deepen learning and explore the subjects. I loved being able to do this with them — I wish I could dedicate more time to helping them. Thanks to the extension activities, I will be able to read those with them on the weekend and do more with them.' She gives her final stamp of approval, adding, 'I would definitely order another box. I would rather spend money on my kids to do things and learn rather than just buy toys.'
How Do I Get Started?
Unanimously, all reviewers said their children felt a sense of accomplishment and pride after completing their project. No matter your kids' ages or interests, there's a KiwiCo box for them to dive into, a STEAM concept for them to explore, and a project for them to feel proud of.
Like Kim, Jen and countless other parents who recommend a KiwiCo box as a gift, you can purchase a subscription or a one-off for the curious kids in your life. Join the huge number of parents who have tried KiwiCo already and get your kids stuck into these hands-on STEAM activity boxes.