It's fairly obvious to anyone who reads this blog regularly that I like to do craft activities with The Boy. He loves making things, it's therapeutic to create something from nothing and it develops a whole host of skills including hand-eye co-ordination, problem solving, fine motor skills. It's also fun!
Therefore I was more than happy to receive a Toucan Box recently to review, and we've had great fun getting to grips completing these themed activities.
Toucan Box are one of a few companies who have recently started up, supplying art and craft activity boxes to parents at home. In the case of Toucan Box it started when a mother of two (one a newborn, one a pre-schooler) was asked by her daughter to help her create an activity that had been demonstrated on television. Not having "24 lolly sticks" to hand and not able to nip out with a newborn in tow, the concept of having a box delivered to houses (with all the necessary equipment included to create the enclosed four activities) was born.
Toucan Box is a subscription based service and subscribers can choose from joining up for 1, 6 or 12 months. Each box is themed and contains a story book and four activities aimed at 3-6 year olds based around that. All craft resources are provided: colouring pencils, glue, glitter, paper, paint, templates, plus additional resource sheets like colouring or activity sheets. The only thing that doesn't come in the box is a pair of scissors and I'm pretty sure that every house has some they can find to use!
The box we received was the first box in the series: the aptly themed box about birds! It comes in a briefcase style recyclable cardboard box with an illustration of all the activities to be completed on the inside lid. At a glance, the child can see what they will be making. The materials and resources provided are neatly stored in compartments and it was a real treasure chest for The Boy to open up and investigate!
There is a high-glossy easy-to-follow instruction manual to accompany the activities, and take it from someone who often ignores instructions (because I'm a kinaesthetic learner and need to be shown) they are incredibly easy to understand and follow. Each activity page shows the materials required, the skill being developed and the time-scale involved. Obviously with younger children they are going to take a little longer than expected or need a little more help from parents, but they are so well thought out and creative that each one held The Boy's attention and he only turns 3 next month.
To start the themed activities off, there is a storybook in each box. For the Birds box it is 'Dazzle Duckling', for the Safari box it is 'Squeak The Lion'. The four activities in the Birds box are: a bird feeder, a toucan family, a bird glider and a peacock collage. There are also 12 colouring in pictures and 'How to draw birds' diagrams.
Activity 1: Bird Feeder
Very simple and straightforward, incredibly easy to do with The Boy. We had a brilliant discussion about how we care for the birds, what we can do to help them at different times of the year and what they eat. We talked about the different birds in out garden and what colours they were. Toucan Box include birdseed as well. In the booklet there are extension activities associated with this one.
Activity 2: Toucan Family
This was the trickiest of all four activities to do, but the one that has captured The Boy's imagination the most. Due to drying time needed, we spread it over several days but it also meant that he was desperate to finish it. The booklet implied one hour to make this, I'd say it's definitely more than two with younger children, we took a little longer than that in total.
Activity 3: Bird Glider
This was the only one of the activities that wasn't a from scratch with sourced materials provided; it was a kit from Baker Ross. However it was appropriate for the box and makes complete sense to me to include it. It also demonstrated to me that The Boy had far better colouring skills than I realised, as he coloured it in within the lines and with great concentration. Three weeks later and it's still going strong.
Activity 4: Peacock Collage
The Boy thoroughly enjoyed cutting out the feathers for this activity and then covering the peacock in glue. It's a simple activity but really kept his attention and made me realise that sometimes the simpler activities are the best.
As I stated before I make a lot of things with The Boy and they all involve us using a pile of resources to make something from scratch. Therefore I was really pleased to discover that this is the ethos of Toucan Box; it would be very easy to 'cop out' and create a box with four kits in it, but it achieves very little in my opinion as it certainly doesn't develop creativity. However, the Toucan Box does develop this area, and it does so in a fun way with high quality resources.
For parents who aren't creative (we can't all be, ask me something mathematical and I'll feign a knock at the door to avoid you) or don't have the time to spend hours in craft stores then a subscription activity box is the best solution to this problem.
The subscription price starts at £19.95 for 1 month, dropping to £18.95 for 6 months and £16.95 for 12 months. All have free postage and packaging. At just under £20 for a one-off box it might seem a little on the steep side, but when you take account of it including a book with a £5.99 RRP and four quality activities with everything you need for them, I think it's good value for money.
Toucan Box have kindly offered readers of TheBoyandMe £5.00 off their first subscription (either 1, 6 or 12 months) when using the code: TBAME.