We tried: Hawaii-made sensory subscription kits | Wender Mind Kids

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DIY craft kits and sensor boxes have grown in popularity during the pandemic as families have been stuck at home. You were definitely a life saver for us too. Even though more classes and activities have now opened up again, the trend is continuing – and with good reason! We tested three of these locally made sensory kits, all made by O’ahu moms, during an afternoon game with my 5-year-old son Duke and his 5-year-old friend Sadie. Here’s what we thought:


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Busy Keiki

Photo: Laura Dornbusch

So technically this isn’t a subscription, but the company does offer holiday-themed sensory kits for you to collect throughout the year. We tried the unicorn set for Valentine’s Day, which included two colors of playdough, a cutter, pompoms, rings, mini unicorn figures and a magic wand. Surprisingly, Duke had no problem with the girly theme and went straight to making a snake with his purple putty. His only downside was that his hands were sticky afterwards. Sadie loved the feathers and had fun hiding the rings in her pile of pink dough. The kids were kept busy for about 30 minutes which gave us moms some much needed time to catch up.

What we love: The homemade playdough is soft and smells better than the store-bought version. Also, the kits now come in a cute organizer box that makes my Type A soul flutter.

Perfect for: Ages 3 to 7. If you have younger ones in the house, pay attention to the small parts.

$12; Purchase via Instagram at @busykeiki Pick up at O‘ahu or shipping at additional cost.

Keiki & the pineapple

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Photo: Laura Dornbusch

These monthly activity sets are also themed around the holidays and contain three projects for more fun and extended play. Our Valentine’s Day themed set consisted of a sensory rice container, a popsicle picture frame and a confetti balloon decorating project. Of course, Duke and Sadie were first drawn to the chaotic rice activities. With four hands squeezing and stirring inside a Tupperware container, you can imagine how much rice stayed in it and how much ended up on the floor! (See Tip 2 below.) They calmed down, however, and worked as a team, meticulously pasting rhinestone hearts onto the photo frame to create a sweet reminder of the game date. Next up: another messy one – decorating a confetti balloon. Although there was glue and confetti everywhere, I have to say the balloon turned out adorable and served as the centerpiece on our dinner table for a week.

What we love: Each kit exudes lasting vibes and includes a used book. It’s always a surprise which title you get at the end! And thanks to K&P for providing all the materials needed, even glue and an applicator pen so I didn’t have to prep anything!

Perfect for: Ages 2 to 5. Note: This is not an independent playset, so plan to sit down with your child and work on the projects together.

$30 for a one-time box, $25/month for a monthly subscription. Buy on-line and pickup at Keiki & the Pineapple (909 Kapiolani Blvd. Ste B, Honolulu). Shipping possible for an extra charge. The store will close on May 22 but will continue to offer its sensory boxes.

Academy of Superpowers

Super Academy Subscription Box

Photo: Laura Dornbusch

This monthly kit hides STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) tasks under the guise of a superhero mission to help save the world. In each kit, kids work to earn a new superpower through projects, crafts, and a comic book. Our kit focused on the super power of flight. Sadie had to go home for dinner, but Duke and I followed the instructions to build three different glider models with the materials provided. Next, we recorded in his secret book how long each flew and how smooth the landings were. The measuring tape and note page even came with it! By far our favorite of the three kits, the box also included ideas for additional expansions, including art projects. Duke talked about the gliders all evening and we ended the day reading the Crash and Learn comic book for a bedtime story.

What we love: The Super Secret audio message, in which Duke was chosen as a Superpower Academy cadet to help save the world, gave the kit a “real” and relatable feel, especially to a non-reader like Duke who doesn’t read the rest of the literature could read himself. The branding and design of the box and materials is top notch.

Perfect for: Available in two age categories: 5-7 years or 8-10 years. At the lower end of the age spectrum, Duke needed a lot of parental support, ie, “Mom, help me!!”

$29.99 monthly, $89 for a 3-month prepaid subscription, $169 for a 6-month prepaid subscription, or $325 for a 12-month prepaid subscription. Buy on-line. Shipping is $2.99 ​​per box.


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Our 5 tips

  1. Buy one set/box per child. Sharing doesn’t matter when it comes to these activity boxes. The content is designed for a child. Also, avoid fights, tantrums, or hitting if possible.
  2. Take it outside Some of the projects are messier than others, so I’d recommend not risking it and setting it up outdoors.
  3. Save it for a rainy day. OK, ignore tip 2 if it’s raining, but seriously, these boxes are the perfect solution for a day at home when you need to keep the kids busy. The challenge is to hide the box where your kid won’t find it until the rainy day comes!
  4. Give away subscription. Better than the jelly of the month club, these activity boxes are a gift that keeps on giving. Ask grandparents to gift a subscription for their child’s next birthday or holiday.
  5. Set a time to dispose of it. You know that feeling: your home is overflowing with random crafts, crumpled coloring pages, and crumbled cardboard creations. So when is it okay to throw away your child’s work? The monthly nature of these kits makes it easy to get rid of last month’s projects when the next new kit arrives.