The best subscription boxes for children
Subscription boxes – packages full of goodies that are delivered to your door once a month – are a hot new trend, with a whole range of options ranging from chocolate to beauty products.
There's a wide choice of subscription boxes aimed at primary school children, and they make the perfect gift for Christmas or birthdays. Many of them can also be ordered as a one-off if you don't want to commit to a monthly subscription.
We ordered 12 of the bestselling boxes and used them with our children. Read on to find out what was inside!
Best for Bake-Off wannabes
What’s inside? Each box includes all the ingredients for a baking project; a recipe card so you can recreate your bake again and again; materials for a craft project; a baking and craft activity book, giving instructions and inspiration; and the chance to enter the monthly Star Baker competition.
Our Halloween-themed box contained the ingredients to make cinnamon donuts decorated with icing cobwebs, instructions for making a (non-edible) witch’s brew using things from the house and garden, instructions for making marshmallow slime, and a craft activity to make bat and pumpkin pompoms.
Best for budding scientists
What’s inside? The Explore box includes everything you need for three to five science experiments and explorations, adding up to one to two hours of fun. The bigger Investigate box, for ages 8+, contains everything in the Explore box plus additional investigations and collectible lab kit.
We tried out an Explore box with a Hidden Rainbows theme. There were three activities: a chromatography experiment using sweets and inks, make a pair of rainbow glasses, and make rainbow spinners. All we needed to add was water!
Best for tight budgets
What’s inside? There are three types of toucanBox: Petite (delivered fortnightly or monthly) contains one craft project and a themed activity box; Grande (monthly) includes the equipment for two craft projects and an age-appropriate reading book; and Super (monthly) contains four craft projects and a reading book.
A nice touch is that for an extra fee, you can order craft materials for a sibling to complete the projects, too.
Our Petite box had a Pirate Adventure theme and included the materials to make a feathered cardboard parrot puppet and a tea-stained treasure map. The activity book suggested other craft projects, including making a pirate’s hook from household items.
Best for learning about the world
What’s inside? The Geo Journey starts with an Explorer Kit, which includes a personalised letter, wall map, travel journal, passport, activity booklet, stickers, and a travel ticket, all packed into a hardwearing child-size suitcase – my daughter loved packing her case for a trip to Edinburgh, and filling in her journal while we were there.
From then on, each month, your child will receive a package focusing on a different country, including a personalised letter, photos, fact postcard, stickers, activity booklet, travel ticket and a souvenir, such as a boomerang from Australia.
Best for sharing stories
What’s inside? Each package includes two carefully chosen, age-appropriate books, a card giving related activity suggestions, and a small gift. The Happy Book Club also makes a charity donation for every box purchased. The theme is kept secret so that each month, there’s a surprise for your child.
Our box had an Environment theme, and was beautifully packaged with lots of shiny autumn leaves confetti. We received copies of Dr Seuss’ The Lorax and All the Wild Wonders, a poetry book by Wendy Cooling. There was also a wooden leaf-shaped wind chime to decorate, and suggestions to make an autumn collage and autumn play dough.
Best for environmentally conscious kids
What’s inside? These boxes have a different seasonal theme each month, and include at least three activities, which could include craft, baking and puzzles. There’s a sticker chart, with stickers to add each month, and instructions for an extra monthly recycling task using household materials.
We tried out the Enchanting Woodland Creatures box, which contained a feathered ‘flying owl’ craft activity, a 3D squirrel magnet to make, and a woodland sticker scene. Our recycling task was to make a badger out of a toilet roll tube.
Overall, we found the instructions less clear to follow than many of the other subscription boxes we tested – and our poor squirrel sadly fell apart!
Best for craft lovers
What’s inside? Every Weekend Box promises something to make, something to bake, something to explore, and more. There are two options: the Bumper Activity box for 3-8 year olds with four activities or the STEM activity box for 7-12 year olds with three science, technology, engineering and maths-based activities.
We tested the Halloween themed Bumper box, which included a pumpkin paper lantern craft, a window frame ghost craft, a coloured chalk bats craft, and a rice crispy ghosts baking activity. There were also fun facts, colouring sheets, sweets, stickers and a certificate to colour on the inside of the box.
Best for voracious readers
What’s inside? This is a subscription box with a difference: each month, you’ll be sent one, three or five age-appropriate and completely personalised books for your child, depending on your subscription level. The box also includes educational activities and stickers. You can choose which books you’d like to receive online, delete books you've already got, or let the Bookabees team select books based on your child’s age and interests.
There's a subscription to suit every budget: you can choose to either keep the books forever or return them for free in the pre-paid packaging. There are thousands of titles to discover, from classic Bookabee favourites to hidden gems.
Our ‘Bigger’ box contained five fiction and non-fiction books: The Little Mermaid, Stories of Mermaids, The Great Fire of London, The Wizard of Oz and Camille and the Sunflowers. There was also a craft activity to make a cardboard money box.
Best for making history fun
What’s inside? Mysteries in Time boxes each feature a personalised ‘time machine’ box filled with activities relating to a specific period in history, including a story, history booklet, puzzles, sticker sheet, colouring pages and more. The first box also contains a wall map and timeline to add to each month.
We tested the Bumper box, which also includes a history themed craft activity and gift. Our Ancient Egypt box included timeline sticker, Max and Katie’s Egyptian Adventure story, a quiz and puzzles, a craft to make and decorate a clay amulet, colouring sheets and pencils, and a replica canopic jar to keep.
Best for learning a language
What’s inside? One Third Stories is a language-learning programme for kids, available in French and Spanish. Each box includes a book that’s written predominantly in English, but introduces more and more foreign words as the story progresses.
There’s also a code to download the audiobook, vocabulary flashcards and an activity book. Our French pack contained The Duck’s Journey, and a book of activities including a die to make and games to play with it.
Best for literacy
What's inside? Technically, this isn't a box but a personalised letter from Banjo Robinson, a globe-trotting cat who writes to your child twice a month from a different geographical location each time. The letters can be personalised with details about your child's life, such as where they live and the name of their pet. The aim is that, after reading their letter from Banjo, your child will want to write back. They then pop their letter into the enclosed envelope, add a special stamp (provided), slide it under the sofa and wait for it to be collected by Cat Mail (AKA Parent Mail!) overnight.
Each letter comes with reply stationery, stickers, a colouring activity, and the occasional surprise, and the first package also includes a map of the world so your child can mark off every location that Banjo visits using a special pawprint sticker.
What's inside? The Curiosity Box is a science-themed subscription box that comes in three sizes: Pico, which contains one activity, Nano (two activities) and Jumbo (three to four activities). Each box contains activities linked by a theme, such as Forensics, Spooky Science and Sublime Slime.
The box we tested included four science experiments, with all the ingredients and equipment needed to complete them: edible baubles, thermodynamic putty, galaxy tube and homemade snot. There was also a plastic molecule model to put together.
A particularly nice touch is that the box contained two postcards, one profiling a scientist from the past, and the other a modern-day scientist (who happened to be female), providing great role models for kids.