Trying to decide if “The Explorer” Play Kit from Lovevery is worth it? In this post, I'm sharing all of my thoughts as a first time mom after having this montessori based toy subscription service since 2019, with two kids.
Discover which toys from the 9-10 month box of Lovevery's subscription service my toddler still plays with, which were a bust, similar items if you want to self curate, and how the price compares to those similar alternatives!
- Video review: "The Explorer" Play Kit in action:
- What is inside The Explorer Play Kit for Months 9-10?
- Discontinued Items From The Explorer Play Kit:
- Is The Explorer Play Kit from Lovevery worth it?
- How much does The Explorer Play Kit from Lovevery Cost?
- Shop "The Explorer" Play Kit from Lovevery:
- Quick Shop Amazon Alternatives:
You can read the FAQs and full review of all the Lovevery Subscription Play Kits here.
Video review: “The Explorer” Play Kit in action:
What is inside The Explorer Play Kit for Months 9-10?
Stainless Steel Tip & Turn
A steel spinner with a ball for practicing bilateral coordination
There's nothing exactly like Lovevery's which is a fun twist on a flip top toy. Some of these alternatives may not be as well suited for baby's this age range as Lovevery's, but are sure to provide loads of fun as the months go on:
- Set of 4 wooden spinning tops – two have a dip suitable for a marble run if you have (but I wouldn't give that to a baby)
- Set of 3 tumbling wooden sensory toys are suitable for babies this age range and still encourage bilateral play with montessori aligned materials
- SpinnyPins is by far one of my 9 month olds favorite toys and is a similar(ish) concept to this. It's a bowl that rocks/spins but inside the bowl is a chime that makes a really pleasant sound. Then there are color coordinated pins that also double as wobbler toys. It works so many skills and is just an awesome toy that will last a while. Check price on fatbraintoys here or on buybuybaby here.
Stainless Steel Jingle Keys
Easy to grasp steel ring with guitar pick shaped “keys”.
If you plan to get the Free Spirit Play Kit or The Observer Play Kit then you'll get a set of stainless steel keys that work just as well for babies as they do for the intended items in those play kits.
Alternatively, you could just get a set of stainless steel measuring spoons. It's what we use when in the kitchen!
Baby's first blocks
3 sustainably forested wooden blocks for your little one to start grasping, building, and knocking down.
Honestly you're not going to find 3 random little blocks sold anywhere so you're better off buying a block set. Our favorite is this one, but I have entire buying guides on toddler block sets and wooden building block sets for kids!
Stacking rings with tube and ball
We LOVE this toy! It teaches stacking and containment, but can also be reimagined in so many ways.
We use the clear tube as a spy class or listening device.
My daughter loves to wear the rings like bracelets and admire herself in the mirror too.
The ball in this is pretty light weight, and unfortunately is the only item that didn't last out of ALL the Lovevery Play kits from the first 2 years because our dog ate it haha. But that's okay, the balls from the Inspector Play Kit work just as well!
There's nothing exactly like Lovevery's which features a clear tube that fits into a wooden base with three wooden stacking rings.
Instead, the closest thing I could find was a basic wooden ring stacker.
Montessori Egg Cup
My daughter LOVES this toy and still uses it at a year and a half.
It builds concentration, coordination, and teaches the concept, in-out.
Gripping canister set
They updated this set from the original version, which I'm pretty bummed about.
The original version featured very long canisters with holes in the bottom making them one of our absolute favorite water toys.
The new shortened version is basically like using a standard drip cup, only with some lids.
And don't get me wrong, I'm convinced containers with lids are the key to engaging toddlers and babies for long independent play. But with that said, I think most of us can just look in our pantry for different containers/tupperwares to give at that point. which leads me too…
Like I said, I think you can use random containers in your kitchen to create a similar effect in terms of the opening/closing of lids. Just grab a snack cup, water bottle, and old coffee can with the lid and you're basically all set with duping this updated version…
However, we were HUGE fans of the original because of how the long canisters water flowed between them. It was so much more fun than a basic short drip cup. Which leads me to this set of fountain bowls which create a similar water effect and are loads of fun!
Bright & Light Play Scarf
A lightweight scarf for peek-a-boo, imaginary play, language development, tossing, and more.
Scarves like this one SAVE us during diaper time at this age!
Play scarves are a huge staple of Waldorf and fantastic to have in any home. There are countless ways to use these and kids never get tired of them as the years pass! This is the most popular play scarf brand (and the priciest). You can also find cheaper options like these.
“How I Feel” Board Book
Get the conversation started about feelings to start building emotional intelligence.
This is one of my favorite books (my daughters loves them all, so that goes without saying).
When I read it to her, I identify the things that showcase the emotion. E.g. “She is happy. See how she her mouth turns up into a smile, she's looking us in the eye” and then “He is sad. See how his mouth turns down, his eyes look watery, and he's slumping.”
Basically just reflecting back what I'm observing so she can start to see those things to.
PLUS when she randomly made a “mad” face one day when we got to that page in the book, well… my heart melted. Now she goes through all the faces and it's amazing.
- Can You Make A Happy Face? Board book featuring real children with decent diversity/representation
- Making Faces – This is one of the first books to come up on Amazon and I think it's worth noting here that while it does a good job with engaging questions/interacting with the reader, it's pretty racially insensitive/bias with it's representation
Discover how to play and reimagine ways to use the items in the play kit and what skills your 9-10 month old is working on all backed by research.
Discontinued Items From The Explorer Play Kit:
“Opposites” Board Book
Showing and teaching some of the common opposites.
We try to show her as many as we can so she can learn the concepts off the page.
Funny enough, there's an “open/close” page and we always opening and closing a fist. FFWD to getting her blood drawn, asking her to show us “closed” and the nurse absolutely melting and LOLing as she made a first for her blood draw.
- Baby Up, Baby Down: A First Book of Opposites – pretty similar to Lovevery's with basic opposites and real kids; in fact, it's so similar I'd venture to guess they used Lovevery's as inspo based on the print date
100% organic cotton blanket. Perfect for peek-a-boo.
I'd suggest going back to the play scarf section for alternatives or checking out this post on receiving blankets with my top picks and ideas for playing with them!
We get a TON of use out of this little bag.
It's a fairly decent size, but small enough for our daughter to walk around with.
We typically fill this up with toys (the puzzle from The Inspector Play Kit fits in it), bean bags, a teether, etc. when traveling.
I don't know if there are organic cotton toiletry bags, but that's essentially what this is and you can find a multitude of sizes/materials here.
For building motor skills and teaching cause and effect to baby.
We love how easy these are to throw in the pouch that comes in this play kit when traveling.
If you're looking for a set of kids bean bags, click here.
However if you're looking for a non-toxic alternative to kids bean bags, then I'd recommend something like this which is technically for headaches/eyes but provides a similar sensory experience for babies and serves a multi-purpose. I keep ours in the freezer for both teething or if needed when my toddler gets a fever.
Is The Explorer Play Kit from Lovevery worth it?
Yes! If you were to recreate this play kit using Amazon alternatives you'd spend a minimum of $90 or as much as $144! Either way it's more than the cost of the play kit! Click here to buy it!
We personally still use items from this play kit, which we've had since 2019. While we don't have some of the updated items, we have similar toys and I can wholeheartedly say they are great!
How much does The Explorer Play Kit from Lovevery Cost?
The Explorer Play Kit is $80, or you can get a 10% discount if you pay up front which would bring the price down to $72, or “$36 a month” as it says on their website.
This toy box comes with nine toys, so it roughly comes out to around $9-10 per toy which is a great deal, especially when you realize they are made from organic cotton, soy based inks, and sustainably harvested wood.