Why This GeekMom Loves Tinker Crate

Our drip irrigation system. Image credit: Ariane Coffin.
Our drip irrigation system. Image credit: Ariane Coffin.

The Internet is filled with useful reviews, but sometimes you have to wonder, “Sure, they love their new product now, but how will they feel about it when the novelty wears off next week, next month, or next year?” It’s not as often you see feedback from a long-term user, so I decided it was time I put my feelings out there about my love for Tinker Crate, a subscription service for little tinkerers.

We’ve been happy Kiwi Crate customers for years, I think around three years now. They ship a monthly box to your house with everything you need to complete two craft projects aimed to kids ages 4-8. We love that we not only get two craft projects, but that the end products themselves aren’t useless once finished. For example, in the latest box, we’ve built a cash register that we can then use to run a pretend-store in our living room.

Our homemade motor. Image credit: Ariane Coffin.
Our homemade motor. Image credit: Ariane Coffin.

So when Kiwi Crate announced a whole new suite of boxes aimed for different age groups, I was curious. One, the Koala Crate, was crafts aimed for the 3-4 years old crowd. Another, Doodle Crate, covered crafts for the 9-16+ age group. Finally, the one that caught my eye was Tinker Crate: “A laboratory for hands-on experiments” for kids 9-14+.

I’m a sucker for science, so of course I signed up promptly. For my then 4-year-old.

Well, believe it or not, it’s been a huge success with my preschooler for almost one year now! She does need help following the instructions and building the smaller bits that require a little more hand coordination (and patience), but regardless, it’s an activity that we both look forward to tremendously.

In the nine months that we’ve been subscribed, we have built: a motor, a trebuchet, a zoetrope, hydraulics with syringes, a drawing robot, slime, a biomechanical hand, a drip irrigation system, and rubber band gliders.

The Tinker Crate also comes with a Tinker Zine, a mini magazine with loads of information on the topic of the month. We really love these. For example, the Tinker Zine “Let’s Hand It to Hands” included in the biomechanical hand box explains how our hands work (bones, muscles, tendons, joints, etc.), covers a history of prosthetic arms, offers instructions for making jointed straw puppets, and tells the story of people around the world helped by 3D-printed prosthetic hands. They really know how to fill up a few pages without making it feel overloaded.

I’ll be the first to admit that, with some planning, a thrifty and creative parent could provide their child with a similar building experience for less money. I commend you if you can make that happen without help. Personally, we’re a two income family with very little time or energy for thinking of new projects or gathering the necessary materials at stores all over town, so yeah, we fork up the $19.95/month to have our boxed activity shipped to us.

My daughter is so proud of her cool machines that she always wants to bring her latest creation to her preschool class’s weekly show-and-tell. I call that a win. As far as we’re concerned, Tinker Crate has been worth every penny.

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Ariane is a programmer married to another programmer. Together they have two little girls who don't stand a chance against their nerdy lineage. Ariane can also be found illustrating for Intelligently Adorable.