Activity kits delivered through the letterbox promise hours of fun away from the screen, helping children pursue their hobby or passion – and delivering educational value

Words: Rachel Hogg

Activity kits are nothing new, but there’s something immensely satisfying about letting your child enjoy analogue fun in a digital age. In the past, the focus has often been on reading. But as the market has grown (and the desire to give a gift that lasts), subscription kits have moved into cleverly designed art, craft, gardening, cooking and practical STEM kits.

For parents, this is a win-win situation. You can let your child explore their latest passion and build focus and creativity with self-taught projects. Meanwhile, you get to enjoy some quiet time knowing they are having mind-expanding fun away from their screen. Many companies offer one-off kits, so you can test the water, and added-value features such as online tutorials and projects. Also look out for sibling kits, meaning two kids share creative projects for a bit less money. Here are some of our favourite options for broadening young minds. 

Activity kits for letterbox learning
Foodini’s cookery kits make creative meal planning fun for all the family and there’s an emphasis on seasonal ideas

Cook club

Kit: Foodini Club

Cost: From £30 per pack

Age: 3+ with guidance

Perfect for your budding masterchef, Foodini is a seasonal subscription box designed to inspire creative meals. Alongside the six vegetarian recipe and three drink recipes in each pack, you’ll find foodie knowhow, including foraging, kitchen science and culinary skills guides. A recipe binder is included if you buy the six or nine-month subscription and each pack has extras such as craft materials, meal planners and stickers. It’s a great way for kids to develop confidence in the kitchen and may encourage hesitant eaters to be more adventurous.

Activity kits for letterbox learning
We love Artful’s activity kits focused on learning the practicalities of different mediums and art techniques

Art explorer

Kit: Artful

Cost: from £49.95

Age: 12+
Artful is a great way to nurture an aptitude or interest in art. While a single box may be a good taster, a year’s subscription (£139.95, four boxes) is more fun, as every quarter young artists are introduced to a new medium and given tools to go create. With lino printing, calligraphy and watercolour in the mix, it’s great for adding to their skills and they acquire top-quality art materials. Each box is accompanied by a magazine of tutorials and inspiration in a kit that will stretch and inspire the 16+ age group as well as younger children.

Mud Bloom
Mud + Bloom kits are designed to inspire outdoor play based around nature and wildlife – and with great sibling boxes

Get growing

Kit: Mud + Bloom

Cost: from £13.95 monthly

Age: 3+

This gardening subscription box for the pre-school and primary age group will be sure to inspire lots of creative play outdoors. The boxes were designed by teachers, with input from forest school, Montessori and Steiner practitioners, and each contains a combination of seasonal activities such as seed planting, foraging, crafting with natural materials and wildlife spotting. We like the sibling boxes, so this can be gifted for two, and the ambitious projects – from making a mini wormery to creating a pebble sundial.

Mel Science
Budding scientists can get hands-on experience with Mel Science kits designed for ages 8 and up – there’s a proper ‘maker-doer’ approach to build knowledge

Eager Einsteins

Kit:  Mel Science

Cost: from £14.90 monthly, billed annually

Age: 5+

Any Einstein and Marie Curie hopefuls are going to love this subscription box, a hit in the US and now available in the UK. There are STEM kits for children aged 5-10, with more specialist physics and chemistry projects suitable for 8+ to teens. From building a hydraulic lift (and learning about states of matter) to making pure water and understanding heat transfer, the maker-doer approach is backed by science and teaching knowhow. Kits can be shared, so great sibling or parent-child experiments await.

Happy Craft Box
Happy Craft Box activity kits are designed to teach mindfulness as well as helping children learn new craft skills and build confidence

Mindful Moments

Kit: Happy Craft Box

Cost: from £19.97 monthly

Age: 4+

The activities inside this subscription box will do more than just keep your child entertained, they can help support emotional wellbeing and happiness. Each month focuses on developing a new mindset skill – with activities inspired by art therapy, yoga, mindfulness and positive psychology – alongside a guide for parents looking to support their child’s development. Kits are tailored for two age groups 4-8 or 9-12, and you can opt for single or sibling boxes. We like the addition of progress wallcharts and journals to encourage reflection on what’s been achieved.

Little Hands Learning
Little Hands Learning’s activity kits bring reading to life, combining classic books with related play and exploration of everything from baking to nature studies

Read and play

Kit: Little Hands Learning

Cost: From £21 monthly

Age: 3+

Perfect for budding bookworms, these boxes bring literature to life. Single boxes (from £27) make great one-off gifts and are a good way to test the water. Sibling boxes are also available via subscription or to gift. What’s great for parents of young children is the juxtaposition of reading with creative play. Each box contains a classic book for their library and with four linked educational activities, ranging from baking to craft, nature exploration and storytelling.

Kiwi Co
KiwiCo ‘crates’ offer mind-expanding play and learn and there are lots of different kits to try

Brain builder

Kit: KiwiCo

Cost: From £14.01 monthly, plus shipping

Age: 0+

A grandaddy among the creative kit suppliers (it calls them crates), KiwiCo has shipped over 40 million boxes of mind-expanding play across the world and has an association with Seattle Children’s Hospital and an army of child testers. While its 0-24 subscription – with kits delivered bi-monthly – is a popular gift for babies, kits go all the way up to 14+ for scientists, engineers, DT and art fans. Whether they are learning to code, design, draw, make, count or build, your child or teen is sure to use their hands and their imagination in equal measure.

Cubie Box Blue Annotated ( )
Maths is designed to be fun with Cubie, and the kits have been developed by a former teacher and tutor

Maths genius

Kit: Cubie

Cost: From £32.91 monthly

Age: 4+

This subscription box takes a little and often (10 minutes a day) approach to mastering maths and showing children just how creative and inspiring numbers can be. Cubie has been developed by a teacher and former private tutor, with workbooks designed in consultation with early and primary years specialists. This is what parents need to know, but for children it’s the fun of receiving a new parcel by post every month with all they need for four weeks’ worth of Cubie fun – including pencils, rubbers and other important young mathematician kit.

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