There's a new kid in town, I mean, a new craft-in-a-box. Called iNbox, the latest is by the educational toy store Smart Alley. I think it makes logical sense for them to jump on the bandwagon. They are already selling educational craft items at their store, so iNbox is an extension and reinvention of what they offer, delivered right to the doorstep. So how does iNbox's creativity, functionality and educational value fare?
The folks at iNbox ensured that the box was addressed to EV - a nice, personal touch that can be extremely meaningful and exciting for young kids. Upon opening the box, much to the delight of EV and AA on a bright morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find the box seemingly packed with materials for the activities. There didn't seem to be much empty space left in the compact box. And then as I proceeded to take some photos of the whole box, as all mum bloggers do, I gave the activities a preliminary assessment.
In the Colour Scientist theme box, there are about five activities, which includes an additional bonus activity and an illustrated story book. Now this story book element is promising. So far so good. The true test is when EV gets down to it.
What I do like is the notice 'Parental Involvement Required' in the top right hand corner, which plays an integral role in reminding parents to do the activities together with their kids, even if the kids are old enough to independently do the activities on their own. What matters is bonding time that parents and kids will have together.
So on to getting dirty.
I like the fact that this iNbox is extremely thoughtful in providing an art apron to protect the kid's clothes and a plastic sheet to protect the working surface. These aren't the best quality, but it's the thought that counts. There is only one apron, so AA got to wear it. I think in the first My Colour Lab activity, these items are very important, because it can get dirty. The activity requires the kid to be a scientist of colours. The idea is great: put two paint colours into a plastic 'test tube', use a pipette to squeeze drops of water into the tube, screw on the top and then shake. AA joined in the fun too, so the siblings took turns to put in and shake the colours, as they discovered how to mix different colours to make new ones.
There's even a nice little tray to line all the tubes of colours, just like a scientist would.
EV got a little carried away at the end; she started mixing all the colours together into a dull blue. Important thing is, my little colour scientist had fun creating colours, making a mess and cleaning up after. So looks like a big stamp of approval from her.
The second Magical Kaleidoscope activity needed a little more help from mummy, as EV still wanted to experiment with her paint colours. What got her, and AA, interested were the stickers that they get to stick on to the circular disc. That was the simple part. The actual folding of the cardboard and the putting together of the kaleidoscope had to be done by mummy. And then it was as easy as turning the disc around to see the patterns through the eye hole. This teaches kids how things can look different, if one looks at it from another perspective. Here, stickers on a circular disc become beautiful patterns.
Excitement grew again during the Spray Painting activity. EV clearly loves painting, so it was nice for her to discover another way to paint - using a toothbrush. After that, she created her own activity by pasting the cut outs onto another paper to create her own picture.
The last two components of this theme box is rather rare: a board game & a story book. The board game uses the recognition of colours making it easy for kids to understand and play. The story is about a new animal who bullies other animals into doing things for him. It teaches kids about bullying and that if you really need something, all you have to do is ask nicely.
The iNbox we got is indeed an activity-filled box that kept EV occupied for about three hours. That's rather good, considering the fact that there are ways to extend the activities even further.
The activities do not just stretch kids' creativity and imagination, they are also educational with specific areas of learning such as sensory, gross motor and cognitive. These areas are clearly indicated at the front page of the instruction manual in pictorial format.
On the last page, there is a more detailed explanation on the skills that the activity develops, the conversation topics that parents can engage their children in and how they can extend the activity in other ways. This is helpful for parents.
At $28.90 per box (plus $3.35 regular shipping) or $84 for a three-month subscription (free shipping), iNbox, with its activities, is economically priced and value for money.
Now the key is for future iNbox boxes to be as good as this one. If so, the iNbox concept could be here to stay for a long time.