My 5-year-old son really loves animals. So every month we diligently tag along as he runs through a zoo, a farm or a pet store, all the while wondering how this passion will transform (or diminish) as he matures. There’s no room for a real pet in our apartment, but I’ve always felt there must be a way to translate this animal interest into a more meaningful and teachable experience. And now there is: Junior Explorers is a monthly subscription box for 5- to 12-year-olds, full of products and a digital component that helps connect kids to the planet and its species.
Subscription boxes are all the rage. I’ve received monthly craft boxes, weekly groceries, and bi-monthly beauty samples. It only makes sense that kids would want to get in on the action. On a cold Sunday afternoon, my son ripped open the welcome kit. Inside was a membership card, a checklist of activities to do, and all of the project accoutrements. Looking at the contents, I felt like the box might be too paper heavy, without enough tactile toy substance to hold his attention for very long. But I was wrong.
Over the next hour and a half, my son geared up with his pin and bracelet; used the included stickers to recycle and decorate his box into a steam trunk; hung up a map of the world separated by biomes and the animals that live there; read a book about habitats; tatted up his arms with compass tattoos; and filled and spilled water into his new Junior Explorers BPA-free water bottle.
Each month, the kit will focus on a different ecosystem: Amazon, Serengeti, or the Arctic, etc. Many of the activities will be different, but a priority for the company is on collectibles. So, each kit will always have a new bracelet, pin, animal figurines, cards, and the like that kids can collect and display. My son has already attached his pins in a coveted spot front and center on his backpack. The curriculum has been designed by teachers, and they’ve spent two years testing their product and making sure it fits in with kids’ lifestyles. Other planned activities include activity books, postcards to send to friends, and games.
What really sets the company apart from other subscriptions is its digital component. This subscription box combines tactile and digital, in what they are calling “gamefied learning.” These days, with many kids equating fun with iPads, Junior Explorers gives them what they want while also appeasing parent and educators with games that have a true educational element. My son, who doesn’t have much digital experience, was able to choose an avatar, pack for an arctic exploration and quickly got the hang of the Junior Explorers’ version of Angry Birds, called “flappy birds.” New games are updated monthly to coincide with the new box, and the old games continue to be available with an active account.
My son told me playing Junior Explorers was his favorite part of his weekend, and the next day I found him pulling out all his “Ocean” books to get a head start on next month’s theme! He loved the variety, games, “and all the cool stuff.” I loved that the company stands behind its mission statement. For the holiday season, they are donating $10 from every kit to a non-profit; and for 2015 as part of the digital experience, kids will get to donate their winning points toward a charity of their choosing and the company will match their points with actual money. That’s a club I’d want my son to join, even with no parents allowed.
Creating a new generation of stewards for the planet costs $19 for one mission; $49 for three missions; $95 for six missions and $185 for 12. You can sign up here.