While there are plenty of toys available for toddlers, not all of them are educational.   Some are purely for your child’s enjoyment.

We were recently given a free review Panda Crate – formerly called the Tadpole Crate.  Our goal – to see if our reviewers thought this project box was BOTH fun and educational. 

Is the Panda Crate the best toddler subscription box on the market? Is it right for your daughter or son? Read on to learn more.

Note: KiwiCo was kind enough to provide us with a free crate to review.

Who Is The Panda Crate Subscription Box Made For?

The Panda Crate is targeted at children under 3 years of age.  It is their toddler subscription crate available in the market in 2022.  Kiwi Co has a variety of different subscription products and options available for kids of all ages.   Our staff has been quite impressed with the quality of their crates – so much so that we’ve gone through and reviewed all of their product line.

You can view our Kiwico subscription box reviews here for more detailed information, but the short version is:

The Entire KiwiCo Crate Lineup

As mentioned above, the Panda Crate (formerly Tadpole Crate) is designed for babies into their toddler years.  This age group has different needs than other kids – so the projects are different too.  They are designed not only to keep your child entertained, but also to make sure YOU can enjoy your time together with your toddler.  I think they do a good job pulling off this goal.

Each Panda crate has enough activities for 2 months.  Our crate was an old Tadpole crate that has since been rebranded as a Panda Crate.  It contains some of the activities that might be in a Panda Crate – but not all.  I am assuming a normal Panda crate is at least double the crate we received.

Will KiwiCo Ship The Panda Crate Overseas?

Absolutely!  The Panda Crate currently can be shipped to 42 countries.  Shipping is free in the United States, and varies between$3.95 to $6.95 for other countries.  You can find all the information on their support page.

The Toddler Vs. The Panda Crate: Our Box Review

The Panda Crate is a newer product line from KiwiCo.  The original product line for toddlers was the Cricket Crate.  In 2018, that was rebranded as the Tadpole Crate.  Starting in 2019, we know this product line as the Panda Crate

I no longer have any children in the toddler age group; all of my children are teenagers.  Therefore, I had to rely on the help of one of our Friend’s of Fractus to review the crate.  His son is just over two years old. 

I interviewed him – the father, not the toddler :)  – to get his take on the crate quality, entertainment value and educational value.  When I am

Our Month The Theme Was "Ride With Me" - Toddler Crate Review

Unlike the other KiwiCo Subscription boxes for older kids, the Panda box comes with the activity fully constructed.  That’s no surprise – toddlers aren’t yet developed enough to read or build a functional toy – so a fully-created project just saves parents the time and effort of building one themselves.

ride with me steering wheel

The theme for our month was car related.  Inside the box, a fully-assembled car dashboard awaited our review family.   The knobs, steering wheel and blinkers are all made of wood, while the remainder is constructed of heavy-duty cardboard.   It felt quite sturdy to me.

Our reviewer said he initially was concerned that his child might be able to break off a piece, but after seeing how well the construction held up he soon wasn’t worried.  His son played with the wheel HARD for over 35 minutes at the first setting, and has continued to abuse the dashboard since.  He now likes to have it in his car seat and play along while saying VOOM VOOM!”  He gets a real kick out of this.

Wonder Magazine Adds To The Experience

Every monthly project comes with a fun-to-read magazine called “Wonder Magazine”.  Inside you’ll find information related to the theme of the month.

The magazine is very colorful, and contains tips on how to get your children engaged with the theme.  There’s also advice on where to find additional information to learn more about the theme of the month.  It’s helpful as the parent to bring yourself up-to-speed on what the subscription is about, and how to help present the information so they can understand it.

inside panda crage wonder magazine

Our reviewer thought there were a few good pointers in our featured edition of the magazine.  His child is really into matchbox cars, and a few of the suggestions were about things to do with the mini-cars.  They built the garage together with some supplies they had around the house.  Both had fun spending time together.

The Book Was Fun To Read Together

Kids of this age aren’t able to read, but they do pay attention to how much YOU read.  That’s one of the great things about the Panda Crate.  It includes a sturdy board book that you can read together.

panda crate included book

There are lots of great, colorful illustrations that help keep you toddler engaged and entertained.  As this was part of the Tadpole line, our month has the adventures of Olive the Frog.  In the book, she learns the importance of following directions and how it’s an important part of growing up.

Learning to follow directions was this month's theme for our project

Our reviewer thought the book was well done.  As all parents of toddlers can attest, you get to consume A TON of board books while helping your kid to learn to read. 

He thought it was smart the way the book had built-in discussion points.  You see one in the picture above.  This gave his son a chance to talk about what they had just read, and also to DO something (press the red stop sign in this case). 

He felt it kept his son more interested and engaged than many other books they’ve read together.  It was a pleasant surprise.

Secondary Activity - Build A Stoplight

Along with the steering wheel, there was an activity that our reviewer had to build.  Staying on the car theme, this project gave directions for building a Signal Box.

All the pieces are included to put it together.  Our reviewer said it took him less than 10 minutes and was no problem at all. 

There are suggestions on how to best used the signal box.  They primarily used it to play a toddler version of Red Light, Green Light for awhile.  That sounds like fun!

The Verdict: The Panda Crate Is Fun and Educational


5 out of 5

Our tester family thought the crate was a lot of fun.  There’s replay value for his toddler, and it allowed the two of them to spend some quality time together having a good afternoon.  Really, what more can you ask out of a $30 monthly subscription box?

When asked about what Kiwico could improve, his only suggestion was he thought the signal light took a bit longer than it should have to put together.  Otherwise, he felt the quality of the parts and the length of activities were a great fit for his 2 year old son.

Some Panda Crate FAQ's:
What's The Difference Between The Tadpole Crate and Panda Crate?

The Panda Crate is the new name for the Tadpole Crate.   You’ll still get high-quality activities with the Panda Crate as you used to get with the Tadpole Crate.  The product we reviewed was branded as a Tadpole crate but you could receive it in your Panda Crate subscription.

Is There A Difference Between The Cricket Crate and Panda Crate?

There is no difference between the Cricket Crate and the Panda Crate.  It’s the same great product, just under a different brand name.

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