Ever since we had the opportunity to review KiwiCo’s entire line of educational subscription crates, we’ve been waiting to see what new product they would come up with for this holiday season.
The wait has ended. The Atlas Crate has arrived.
Is it as good a value as the other subscription boxes made by KiwiCo? More important, is it as fun?
Read on to find out.
I’ll begin by sharing some information about the Atlas Crate, but scroll down if you want to hear more about our team’s own hands-on experience with this geography-focused gift box.
Who Is The Atlas Crate For?
The Atlas Crate is targeted at children aged 6 and up. The website recommends this box for kids up to age 11, while the packaging states 6+. Our hands-on review was done by a child 10 years old who thought older kids would enjoy it.
Made For Geography Lovers
This particular subscription is focused on learning more about people, places and cultures in the world around it. The primary subject focus is geography – the subscription explores places around the world. It goes much deeper than just a cursory look at a country or area.
Instead, there’s plenty for the history or social science lover to enjoy as well. Atlas cards provide interesting facts and trivia about each month’s location. There are cool photos for the visually-driven learner. Readings help to bring the people and culture of each area to life.
If you child likes history, geography, or reciting lists of facts they’ve learned – this is a good choice for them.
Who Should Look Elsewhere?
While there are activities that involve building, it’s not a crate dedicated to building for building’s sake. A science-focused child could learn from this subscription, but might not like it as much as other ones available. If your child doesn’t like the social sciences, this probably isn’t the right one for them.
I’m not sure high school children would enjoy the Atlas Crate for very long. Check out our 2200+ word guide for more options for children in that age group, or who have a burning passion in another area
What Is the Atlas Crate?
As with all KiwiCo products, the Atlas Crate subscription is mailed to you monthly. Inside you’ll find nearly everything you’ll need to construct that month’s creative creations. Our box came with nearly everything we needed to complete the projects. Since there was a recipe for trail mix included, we needed to get our own food ingredients to cook that project. (This isn’t Amazon Fresh – it’s a monthly activity box.)
The kit pieces were well made. The items that needed to handle more stress are made of plastic or solid wood. Sometimes kit manufacturers will try to cut down shipping costs by using heavy cardboard as a material. This can work but ultimately isn’t as durable as going with plastic. It was a nice touch in our kit.
The pieces that snapped together were impressive. Neither myself or my son were able to unsnap them once the globe was put together. It’s one example of how well engineered KiwiCo products tend to be.
The instruction booklet was well written. Instructions were clear – in a nice, colorful format as well. If your child can put together a Lego Kit, he or she can handle building projects with the Atlas Crate.
Our Hands On Atlas Crate Review
As with all subscription box services, a Atlas Crate membership provides different themed projects shipped to your door every month. KiwiCo highlights three different boxes on their website. One involves building a flutter fish windsock. Another is about Peru – so crafts are centered towards exploring that culture.
As we mentioned earlier, the Atlas Crate is for geography fans. My 10 year old son enjoys history and geography, which tend to travel together at this age. We therefore tackled the crate together. I’ll include a mix of my and my son’s opinions in this section. We were provided a free crate to use for our review.
Our review will cover one of the projects from our crate. Since he’s 10, I decided to take a very hands-off approach to my involvement in building our project. I was available if he needed my help – but since I was taking pictures the entire time I was a bit busy, and just let him decide if he needed any adult hands.
Inside all the parts for the project are nicely laid out. He decided to tackle building his own globe. He took out the instructions and followed them step by step. The only issue he had was opening one of the sealed plastic bags. I didn’t have a scissors handy and he wasn’t strong enough to rip it open so he needed my help. It was a little weird that all the other plastic bags were resealable except for that one – but that’s more of a curiosity than a complaint.
As he was adding the land-mass felt stickers to the globe, he would let me know some fact about the area. “Dad, did you know Greenland was named Greenland to get more people to settle there?”
“Did you know Africa is the second largest continent in the world?”
He then went on to building the frame that holds the globe. Through some pretty cool “felt-sticker engineering”, he was able to make a well-built, sturdy globe. You can see in the video below it how you can spin it pretty fast without any wobble or worries of it breaking.
What We Liked The Best
Here are the highlights of this geography crate from both a Dad and son’s perspective:
What I Liked Best As A Parent:
- I really liked that my 10 year old was able to tackle the projects without really needing my help. He had a little trouble with a plastic package (and we didn’t have a scissors handy), but other than that setback was able to build and complete the non-cooking projects by himself. (I’m not quite ready yet to run my own experiment to see if he’s ready to use the oven solo.)
- The instructions were really well done. They were written clearly and organized logically. This is a must-have feature for a product where the child can work on projects mainly by themselves. While I’ve come to expect this from Kiwi products, it’s really a strong point in their favor.
- You can feel the quality of the pieces included in this activity. The border, backing and pinball parts were top-notch. I don’t see anything breaking in this set for quite some time.
- The time to completion was right on the money. Since this subscription delivers monthly, you’d like to have the activity take enough time to make it feel like it’s worth the money. Our Pinball Machine crate succeeded in that regard. Both me and my daughter agreed this feels like a good value.
What The 10 Year Old Liked About The Crate:
- He felt this project “looked cool, and you can do a lot of stuff with it.”
- “Excited to put the globe in (his) bedroom, cool to have on the shelf.”
- “It’s a fun way to learn about different places around the world.”
What Would We Change?
There aren’t any glaring defects in the Atlas Crate. I thought the time to complete all the projects was just about right – and since you had a few you could break them up into 15-30 minute intervals when you had time. The skill level seemed reasonable for a wide range of kids. Most of all, the projects were fun to build and play with afterwards.
Time will tell what my son does with his homemade globe, but for now he’s pretty stoked to have it in his room.
My son’s one recommendation was to make sure all the bags were easy-open. As I said before, that’s not a big deal but it would be easy to fix. Considering the project didn’t require a scissors to complete otherwise, it’s not a bad recommendation.
The Atlas Crate is a fun activity kit. It’s a great tool to allow kids to learn more about the world and people in itwithout much outside help from a parent. If you do get involved, you should expect some interesting conversations as your child shares her knowledge. The items in the crate are well-made, and in general the kit feels like someone put thought into the whole package.
If you know a school-aged child that could use some fuel for their geographic and history-buff engine, the Atlas Crate is a good choice for you.