KiwiCo Panda Crate “Solve With Me” for 18-24 months

What comes inside KiwiCo's Panda Crate “Solve With Me” for 18 to 24 month olds? I'm sharing what parents can expect from the STEM subscription toy delivery service for toddlers in this post! Including my initial thoughts, my daughter's impressions, whether or not I think it's worth it, and what it would cost to source these items individually from Amazon.

Table of Contents

Watch KiwiCo Panda Crate “Solve With Me” Review On Youtube:

What is KiwiCo?

KiwiCo is a STEM based toy/activity company for 0 month to 111 years old! They have several lines of “crates” targeting the various age ranges. Their Panda Crate is specifically for 0-24 month olds whom they partnered with the experts at Seattle Children's Hospital to develop and bring develomentally appropriate, research back toys to your door.

The older KiwiCo crate lines focus more on activities, but Panda Crate really focuses on toys that can be used for toddler activities. Learn more about KiwiCo in this post or check out their website here!

What comes inside the KiwiCo Panda Crate “Solve With Me” For 18-24 months:

KiwiCo themed there Panda Crate's to focus on a particular skill. For instance, the first Panda Crate we received from them was called “Count With Me” and focused on early quantitative concepts and numbers. The “Solve With Me” Crate comes in the 18-24 month old range of the Panda Crate line, and focuses on shapes and solving puzzles.

Inside the “Solve With Me” Panda Crate from KiwiCo you'll receive:

  1. Beanbag shapes – 100% cotton triangle, circle, square
  2. Squishy shapes – a soft velboa fabric triangle, circle, and square
  3. Peg Puzzle – a solid beechwood puzzle working fine motor skills sorting a circle, two triangles, and three squares over their corresponding shaped pegs
  4. Poppy's Shape Search – a board book
  5. Lacing Beads – non toxic paint and varnish on wooden pieces with a felt and yarn string to lace the wooden pieces with working bilateral coordination
  6. Beyond the Crate Cards – explanation of the items, ways to utilize them with your child, plus more at-home activity ideas to explore shapes and puzzles with everyday household items
  7. Wonder Magazine – a booklet explaining more about where your child is at developmentally as it relates to puzzles/problem solving at this stage, a song to sing, and a link to more resources for bringing the concept of this crate to life

All of KiwiCo's Panda Crates also come with a link to a page on their website with more book recommendations and other tips.

For working on the “shapes” concept these are the books they recommend “beyond the crate:”

My initial thoughts upon opening this Panda Crate:

When I first unboxed the “Solve With Me” Panda Crate from KiwiCo I was kind of disappointed… The first item I saw were the squishy shapes, which are SO soft, but honestly seemed like such a baby item.

We also have gotten the Lovevery Play Kits since birth. But with baby number 2 on the way, I decided to subscribe to KiwiCo so we have some more toys/activities for the kids. I honestly just felt like my daughter was “too old” for this crate – even though she is in the age range for it.

We've had beanbag shapes from our Lovevery Play Kit for over a year and she's never touched them. We also have 3 lacing kits (one from a Lovevery Play Kit, one from the Lovevery Block set, and I got this 3 pack which I'll explain more about in just a minute). Out of all the lacing kits, KiwiCo's is definitely the most disappointing quality wise.

Now the Peg Puzzle I was really excited about. Lovevery added an item like this in their updated play kits, but we won't be receiving it since we'd already gotten that one. And of course my daughter loves the KiwiCo books.

So was I thrilled about this play kit upon opening it? No. Did I wonder if it was worth the $40? Absolutely…

Which leads me to…

How much would it cost to get these items on Amazon instead?

  1. Shaped Bean Bags – Normally $22 but $19 at the time of posting this
  2. Peg Puzzle $13 – Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3
  3. Shape Book $9 (based on previously linked books)
  4. Lacing Kit – So the KiwiCo is essentially 2 types of lacing kits in one. Here are the options for the threading kits (average $11): Option 1 | Option 2 and here are options for “sewing” – $5 for circle pieces and $13-15 for the multi-shape pieces (more on this in a minute again, sorry for the suspense!!) and one more option most similar to mine
  5. Squishy Shapes – I couldn't find ANYTHING like this on Amazon…

If you were to buy these items individually off Amazon you'd be looking at around $50 – and that's excluding 1 item in the Crate. So financially it's a good deal, especially since KiwiCo tends to run sales all the time. Currently they are doing 50% off your first month with promo code JOYFUL.

So while mom's initial impressions were “bleh,” the financial evaluation showed it wasn't a waste of money… but for the real test? How did my toddler like the toys and did it change my mind?!

Toddler's Impressions of the “Solve With Me” Crate: Is it REALLY worth it?

My daughter was immediately enthralled with this crate. Honestly, I was shocked.

And her favorite toy? The squishy shapes.

Yep the item that initially put a sour taste in my mouth and had me thinking, “that's for a baby, not a toddler! There's NO way my daughter will like these!” were her ABSOLUTE FAVORITE.

I'm talking refused to put them away, woke up the next morning and ran to pull them out of her playroom montessori shelf immediately. They are toddler cat-nip, I swear.

I laid them out on the floor and would call out a shape, then we'd jump over to it. She thought it was the best game ever. Which is funny because I've done this before, where I created shapes using painters tape on the floor, but she was never into it. She'd always just pull the tape up was never into the shapes.

Next, I tried to show her how to toss the beanbags into the shapes. She loved matching them when I'd call out a different shapes.

While reading “Poppy's Shape Search” she kept getting off the couch to pull out the squishy shapes and show me the real life version of the one's we were finding in the book – without me asking!

One night, my husband drew the shapes on the chalkboard in her playroom and she just about lost her mind! She grabbed her squishy shapes ones again and held them up to their corresponding matches on the board. I will warn parents: washing chalk out of the squishy shapes isn't hard, but it's not easy. Our shapes our a little stained now from some of the darker chalk colors used.

The peg puzzle…

She struggled with the peg puzzle the first few days and needed me around to help guide/coach her. They talk about this in the “Wonder” magazine. She tends to get frustrated sometimes while doing in the early days. She did master it after a week though and now can do it in under a minute so it's a toy I've added to our toy rotation and will probably keep her entertained for a long time as she continues to master and remaster it.

I also think this is a great toy to have on hand if you have a baby on the way. Babies love sensory experiences and since the pieces are wood and different colors/shapes they'll probably make good mouthing/hand objects for little little ones.

Lastly the lacing kit…

Probably the biggest disappointment in some ways. We already had a lacing kit from Lovevery and a lacing/sewing kit from Amazon. So we were already are all set on this front… but I'm also impressed with KiwiCo's in some ways. The one thing KiwiCo did that was brilliant IMO, that Lovevery missed the boat on with the lacing kit, is that it provided essentially TWO types of lacing kits in one (i.e. the Amazon add on we have).

There are the pieces with a singular hole – which is what Lovevery offers and this Amazon one I linked earlier. But then there are also these circular pieces with multiple holes, which provide a different type of lacing experience, which match this set we also have.

Now personally, I still prefer our Lovevery and Amazon one's over KiwiCo's – maybe just because we had them first? I like that the Amazon one's are all 1 piece – meaning the wood is connected to the string. We use these in the car a lot or when traveling since I don't have to worry about losing pieces along the way.

I don't think there's necessarily a “better/worse” when it comes to comparing the Lovevery vs. Amazon vs. KiwiCo thread kits – they are just different. The Lovevery and Amazon one's have a sturdier “threading needle” whereas KiwiCo's is a soft felt. I think KiwiCo's would work great for younger siblings – again those textures!! – and also would work great for older kids since the felt thread provides a little more of a challenge.

KiwiCo's single hole pieces are also quite a bit smaller than Lovevery's or the Amazon one, which again makes it a bit more challenging. So I'm actually kind of happy we have all the options. I'll probably give the baby KiwiCo's to play with/feel and once R has really mastered the Lovevery threading kit, I'll reintroduce the KiwiCo one as more of a challenge.

Is KiwiCo's Panda Crate “Solve With Me” worth it?

Financially the KiwiCo Panda Crate is a good deal. Shop it here!

As far as the “Solve With Me” Crate goes – I have to admit, my first impression was totally wrong. My daughter has been obsessed with this crate and I can see how it will continue engaging her for sometime and work well with our baby on the way too! I'm really happy from a child enjoyment/development perspective to have it!