Looking for a KiwiCo Koala Crate review from a mom who’s used it for several years? I’ve got you!
KiwiCo crates are art and science-based projects delivered to you each month. They’re hands-on, screen-free, and created based on age.
So… is the KiwiCo Koala Crate for ages 3-4 worth it?
I’m taking you on our full journey with KiwiCo, including some background on the company, how much KiwiCo crates cost, and our experience with the step-by-step crafts included in each box.
2024 UPDATE: I originally published this Koala Crate review in November 2021. Since then, KiwiCo has made changes to the Koala crate and the age ranges of a couple of crates, so the article has been updated to reflect those changes. I also added a few more insights from over a year of additional testing.
I was not paid to write this Koala Crate review, and I bought the KiwiCo crates for my 3-year-old daughter with my own money (not sent any product from the company).
Now that that’s out of the way let’s get into some background on the company and my honest review.
What is KiwiCo?
Before I get into the full Koala Crate review, here’s a little background on the company.
KiwiCo was founded in 2011 by Sandra Oh Lin, an engineer and mother of 3. She wanted to develop creative, hands-on projects for her own kids, but like the rest of us, her best intentions often fell short.
Finding the time to dream up project ideas and gather all the needed materials is nearly impossible. We have diapers to change and dinner to make, after all!
Sandra started KiwiCo with a vision to help parents bring enriching experiences to their children.
KiwiCo has undoubtedly grown since its inception with creative designers, experts who review the projects, and even a community of kid testers who make sure every crate is fun and engaging.
One fact that blew my mind is that the KiwiCo team spends over 1,000 hours conceptualizing, prototyping, testing, and perfecting every crate.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely do not have 1,000 hours to dream up art activities for my 3-year-old.
To date, KiwiCo has shipped 25 million crates.
How much does KiwiCo cost per month?
KiwiCo crates are shipped on a monthly basis, and you can purchase one month, 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months at a time.
I personally thought the 6-month subscription was the best option, but that decision is up to you.
Here is the cost of the KiwiCo monthly crates if you purchase 6 months:
- Panda Crate (for ages 0-36 months): $18.50/month (each crate for this age includes 2 months of products and activities; they ship every other month, so a 6-month subscription would actually last you 12 months)
- Koala Crate (for ages 3-4): $19.95/month
- Kiwi Crate (for ages 5-8): $19.95/month
- Atlas Crate (for ages 6-11): $19.95/month
- Yummy Crate (for ages 6-14): $19.95/month
- Doodle Crate (for ages 9-16): $19.95/month
- Tinker Crate (for ages 9-14): $19.95/month
- Maker Crate (for ages 14-100): $28.95/month
- Eureka Crate (for ages 12-100): $28.95/month
You could get one month to test it out, but the cost savings to go for 6 months was a no-brainer for me. A whole year seemed like a pretty long commitment, and the cost savings to go from 6 to 12 months isn’t that significant.
How much does a KiwiCo crate cost?
If you want to buy a single KiwiCo crate, you could choose the 1-month subscription option, which you can cancel anytime.
For most of the crates, including the Koala Crate, the cost is $23.95 for a 1-month subscription.
You can also buy single KiwiCo crates in the Store area, which is separate from the subscriptions. Here, there are all kinds of projects to choose from, from a domino machine to an astronaut starter kit.
The cost of these individual crates varies, depending on how complex the materials are.
I imagine the Store area would be ideal if you’re doing any Christmas or birthday shopping.
There’s a handy feature in there that lets you sort by age, and you can also select interests, so if your child is interested in Animals & Nature, for example, you can filter out the crate options.
Giving a gift card can be boring when you want to see a child’s face light up on Christmas. I love that you can buy single crates for gifting, and it’s also a nice option if you want to test out a project before subscribing.
Can you cancel a KiwiCo subscription?
The KiwiCo subscriptions allow you to cancel anytime. Remember that if you buy a 3, 6, or 12-month subscription, you prepay for all of those months. However, you could stop it from automatically renewing by canceling before your subscription period is over.
The 1-month subscriptions are month-to-month, and you can cancel anytime.
KiwiCo also offers non-renewing subscriptions. You’ll just have to pay a bit more.
Are the KiwiCo books worth it?
With KiwiCo subscriptions, you have the option to add a supplemental book that goes along with the month’s theme.
For example, a doctor-themed kit included a book called Kellan to the Rescue, which is about an animal that loves bandages and thinks he can fix anything. He’s met with adversity when there’s an issue he can’t fix.
I personally decided not to include the supplemental book in my kits. I’m not opposed to it, and the books look like a great way to extend the activities.
However, at the time, I was already getting a lot of books from other sources, including our local library and a Literati book subscription. I didn’t need more books, and adding a book to each crate greatly increases the cost.
Adding a book is $10.95 per crate, so for a 6-month subscription, my one-time cost would’ve been over $60 more. It didn’t seem worth it to me at the time, but I may change that when I renew our current subscription.
UPDATE: I have since added the supplemental books to my monthly subscription box…. and I don’t think the KiwiCo books are worth it. They’re cute stories that do go along with the month’s theme, but they’re paperback.
I’m not a big fan of paperback books because they get destroyed a lot faster than hardcovers. We’re still going to enjoy the books we’ve gotten, but I’ve stopped adding the books to future subscriptions because it’s just not worth it for my family. We prefer getting our books from the local library and Literati book boxes.
What ages are KiwiCo crates good for?
KiwiCo was originally developed for ages 5-8, but the product line expanded over time. Now, you can get something from KiwiCo for literally any age range (0-100).
That said, my personal feeling is these hands-on activities are ideal for ages 3-10ish.
After age 10, kids are so involved in other things, like sports or other recreational activities (and school); I don’t know if they’d be super pumped up about getting this kind of crate.
I could definitely be wrong, though – if you love KiwiCo for your older kids, leave a comment below.
Are Panda Crates worth it?
I would pass on the Panda Crates for ages 0-36 months. They include developmentally appropriate toys and products for babies, but they’re not the best option on the market. I actually dislike most of the toys included in them.
I’d personally pivot to something like Lovevery if you want a subscription based on your baby’s age.
The Panda Crate is fundamentally different from the rest of the kits in that it’s not hands-on projects to do and explore with your child – it’s products and baby toys.
Lovevery’s subscription is so much nicer, with higher-quality items that will last and you and your baby will love. It’s more expensive, but I’d rather put my money toward those play kits than the KiwiCo version.
Our KiwiCo Koala Crate Review
We have done over a year of KiwiCo projects, and I am subscribed to the Koala Crate for ages 3-4.
I think we may have gone through most of – if not all – of the themes, so I’m definitely ready to share all my thoughts for this Koala Crate review!
I primarily use this with my 3-year-old daughter, but my nearly 2-year-old son often joins us. He does a bit of destroying, but sometimes, he follows a direction or two, which I think is great practice.
Here were the themes of the Koala Crates during our subscription:
- Glowing Nature
I love that each crate has a different theme with three simple projects that tie into it. It gives me a chance to talk about a new topic with my daughter, and she’s expanding her knowledge and vocabulary.
The best part, though, is doing the hands-on activities.
- In the rainbow crate, we created a rainbow pillow, a stained glass image, and a rainbow tote bag.
- In the farm crate, we put together a barn, farm animal finger puppets, and a vegetable matching game.
- In the musical-themed kit, we created a xylophone, a tambourine, and a dancing streamer.
In the rainforest crate, we made a felt butterfly, a tree, and a musical trunk.
I documented every step of our experience with the Music-themed box, so I’ll take you through what’s involved, what to expect, and if these kits are worth it.
KiwiCo Koala Crate Review – Unboxing (Music Theme)
The box is relatively small, which is nice – having huge packages can create a lot of waste, and it’s harder to get rid of.
Inside the box, we get:
- Materials needed for three age-appropriate activities
- Instructional booklet with step-by-step directions
- Another booklet with games and additional activity ideas within the crate’s theme
Practicing Directions and Steps
After I opened up the box and snapped a few pictures for this review, I wrangled up my kiddos, and we got to work on the first activity.
I showed my 3-year-old daughter the three activity options, and she was quick to choose the xylophone project.
I opened up the instructional booklet and showed her each step before I helped her complete it.
She definitely needed guidance, but that’s what makes these kits so fun.
It’s a collaboration between parent/caregiver and child, and the difficulty level was just beyond her reach. I love activities like this that push the limits and ask her to go further.
And when she can’t? She can ask me for help.
Here’s the completed xylophone:
And here’s a look at the tambourine assembly:
And finally, the easiest project that even my 21-month-old could do, the dancing streamer:
Best of all, my kids were so proud when they finished assembling these musical instruments. They had a lot of fun playing with them, as you can see!
KiwiCo Customer Service
I wasn’t sure if I’d have anything to report about customer service for this Koala Crate review, but one of our boxes had a minor issue.
The green stamp was pretty much dried out. If we pressed really hard and twisted it, we got the outer ring, but it was mostly not usable.
My kiddos couldn’t apply enough pressure for it to show up, so I pressed as hard as I could and was able to get some pigment to show.
I wasn’t planning on reaching out to KiwiCo customer service because it’s really not a big deal. The stamp probably cost 50 cents, and we made it work.
However, I wanted to know how they’d respond to a concern like this, and I am honestly shocked.
They emailed me back in less than 30 minutes and immediately applied a $15 credit to my account.
KiwiCo really went above and beyond – they basically gave me a credit that’s almost the cost of the entire kit, all because one of the stamps was dried out.
And their response time was amazing! I would’ve expected a response in 1-2 days, and they got back to me within the hour.
It’s always nice to know how a company will respond to issues – because issues happen! – and I can say from experience that KiwiCo does an incredible job.
A Look Inside More KiwiCo Koala Crates
I documented the Music box for the purpose of this review, but I did snap some photos throughout the months as we got new boxes.
Here’s a brief look inside a couple of those and some of the activities we did.
In the Camping crate, our favorite project was creating this bonfire. It was a simple activity with a big payoff.
Our toddlers were obsessed with this, especially the little tealight that lights up the bonfire!
They also put together some hot dogs to “roast” over their campfire, which was fun.
The Bugs crate was another favorite as the kiddos created a butterfly costume. And what toddlers don’t love a good costume?!
They were able to work together on this project, and while they fought a bit over who got to wear the costume, it was a good lesson in taking turns.
The Bugs crate also had a really cute ladybug activity that my daughter particularly enjoyed. You decorate a pouch to look like a ladybug with little felt stickers and googly eyes.
She was so proud of her creation when she was done, and she had a lot of fun filling up her pouch with random things from around the house.
We had a ton of fun with the other crates, especially the Wind and Reptiles crates! I didn’t take photos of these, but that’s partly because our nanny did these crates with our kids.
And that’s another huge plus for us – it helps foster fun activities during the day when you’re at work and a caregiver is at home.
KiwiCo vs Lovevery
Several readers have asked me how KiwiCo and Lovevery compare.
I did an in-depth review of the Lovevery play kits, and now that I’ve had a chance to test out KiwiCo, I can adequately compare them.
And the honest truth? The KiwiCo Koala Crate and Lovevery play kits are not comparable. They are very different products.
Yes, they are both subscription services based on your child’s age. But to me, that’s where the similarities end.
The KiwiCo Koala Crates are hands-on crafts that require following step-by-step directions to achieve a final product or toy. You’re paying for the experience, not necessarily the toy at the end.
Lovevery play kits are toys meant to be used in open-ended play that support healthy development in infancy and childhood. They’re not step-by-step crafts that require assembly.
Lovevery vs KiwiCo Panda Crate
The only exception is the Panda Crate for under age 3, which appears to be competing with Lovevery, albeit they’re not doing an awesome job at it.
There’s no question I’d rather put my money toward Lovevery. I would skip the under 3 crates from KiwiCo as they are a cheaper, lower-quality version of what Lovevery does so well.
I’ve gotten a year of them to test it out for this review, and I really do not like them.
- Not as much intention behind the toys as Lovevery
- Materials are lower quality (cheap wood instead of sturdy, heavy wood)
- Toys aren’t as open-ended
- There’s a lot of filler in each kit (one toy is cool and the rest are garbage)
Here’s a look at some KiwiCo toys next to Lovevery ones:
In sum, Lovevery is ideal for ages 0-5, and I believe KiwiCo is ideal for ages 3-10.
Pros and Cons of KiwiCo Crates
I think I’ve said enough in this Koala Crate review, so I’ll keep this section short.
Pros of KiwiCo:
- Saves time: done-for-you craft ideas with clear instructions and only the materials you need (no excess clutter or waste).
- Inexpensive: each kit costs less than $20 when you get the 6-month subscription.
- Collaborative: the crates are a great way to interact and do something fun with your child.
- Fun: my kids get so excited for these projects, and they are proud of their hard work when they see the finished result.
- Educational: following directions is a tough skill to master, and these crates help reinforce it with at-home practice; in addition, they learn about a new topic with each crate (farm, music, rainbows).
- Incredible customer service: if you have an issue, it’s clear to me that KiwiCo will go above and beyond to make it right. That’s important to me when giving my business to any company.
Cons of KiwiCo:
- Not durable: I can’t reiterate enough that you’re paying for the experience of doing the activity with your child. The final product may last for a few days, but not much longer. The materials are not made to stand the test of time. [The xylophone is made out of cardboard, for example, and one of my kids sat on it (don’t judge me), and it squished the sides in.]
- Subscription-based: It’s easy to get carried away with subscriptions. When looking at a budget, I feel like subscriptions are often the first thing to go. While I appreciate the nature of this one, be mindful when deciding what subscriptions are worth it for your family.
- A bit wasteful: Because the projects are not durable, I find myself tossing them once they rip, tear, or fall apart. I’m trying to be conscious of how much garbage our family produces, and while these kits are small, it’s still trash. I should note we don’t have recycling where we live – you may be able to recycle some components of these crates, such as the shipping box.
- Paying for time savings: The materials included are not worth the $19-20 price tag. You could get the same items from your local craft store for way less (or a higher quantity for the same cost). You’re paying for the time savings. To me, that is WELL worth it, as I just don’t have the time. But if you do, the KiwiCo crates may not be worth the cost for you.
I think I’ve thought of just about everything! I hope this in-depth KiwiCo Koala Crate review was helpful.
Please leave a comment below if you’ve tried these – especially any moms, dads, or caregivers who have tried other age ranges. I would love to hear your experience and if you think they are worth it!