As of February 2013, Education.com has discontinued sales and production of the Wonder Box, but continues to provide activities and educational support online.
Don't wonder, know! Education.com’s monthly subscription box, the Wonder Box,is truly a wonder to behold. From the moment the box arrives in the mail, it’s asking your child to use critical-thinking skills, as the box itself is printed with questions that pique a child’s curiosity about the world.
The biggest question for me-- Is the Wonder Box monthly subscription a worthy investment?--was answered with a resounding "Yes"” as I explored the box and looked at the open-ended (yet concrete) directions, the high quality materials and the projects that make use of multiple domain learning.
The box also answers more specific questions like "How are early literacy and Puppet Play connected?" and "How can a book extension activity help to cement the theme of a story?"
What’s in the Wonder Box?
My kid testers and I had the opportunity to look at the “Once Upon a Time” Wonder Box. It, like the other Wonder Boxes, includes three projects and a bonus recipe for a food that ties into the theme of the box.
Since the Wonder Box’s mascot is Ed the Otter, a curious creature who wear a cape, the box included a royal purple story cape, on the inside of which kids can draw their own story with fabric crayons. A simple ironing later your child is a story-telling superhero, too.
The Once Upon a Time Box also included:
- A copy of the picture book Stone Soup. The story subtly demonstrates Concepts About Print ideas for younger children and more complex story elements for older readers. For instance, the capital letter of the first paragraph of each page is emphasized in bold and larger print. The story makes use of quotation marks and other punctuation marks and the simple illustrations (left in blackline so your child can color them) are also interspersed with places for your child to draw in answers to both basic and high-order comprehension questions.
- A Puppet Play Activity. This activity provides a felt "mitten," fabric glue and pieces of felt, googly eyes and yarn for your child to make his own puppet. The attached direction tag provides open-ended directions and suggestions as to how you can use the pieces to help your child practice sorting and patterning.
- Story Cards.These brightly colored, sturdy cards (which come in a handy metal box) encourage a number of different early literacy activities. Wonder Box suggests you play a game in which each player adds on to a story as he looks at the picture on his card, but you could also use the cards for sequencing or as picture writing prompts as well
- A Recipe for Stone Soup. A great follow-up to the story, the recipe is simple and, like all the directions, printed on a sturdy, colorful tag with a hole punched in the top. That makes it easier to keep track of the recipe as you try it out!
What’s the Target Age of the Wonder Box Monthly Subscription?
According to Education.com, the creators of Wonder Box, the “sweet spot” is for children ages three to six because each box targets kindergarten readiness skills like the aforementioned patterning, sorting and literacy.
That doesn't mean older children won’t enjoy the box as well. In fact, my 10-year-old kid tester and I had a lot of fun making up silly stories with the Story Cards and he joined our preschool tester in making the story cape into a paneled comic-strip cape.
How Are Learning Needs Met by This Product?
Each Wonder Box project is accompanied by a tag with the name of the project, the directions and an icon indicating and explaining the core skill the activity is designed to target. Targeted skills include:
What the Kid Testers Have to Say:
My kid testers had a lot of fun with the Wonder Box. From the moment the box came in the mail, the older tester was turning it in circles trying to read and answer the questions on the box. Though he enjoyed coloring on the story cape, he was disappointed that the included fabric crayons did not have “pointy ends,” as it made it hard for him to draw precisely.
The preschool-age tester was enthralled with the Puppet Play activity, making a very unusual looking snake which then became the basis on many hours of play and numerous stories. He also took obvious pride in being able to create his own character.
As for myself, I’m very impressed by the educational content of the Wonder Box. It’s not just another box of craft activities delivered to your child’s door on a monthly basis--it’s a box of learning opportunities for multiple domains. At this writing, a monthly subscription costs just under $20. It’s well worth the cost, especially if you want to help your child get ready for preschool or kindergarten.