In episode 34 we take our first swing at some curriculum talk as we chat with homeschooling graduate, entrepreneur and creator of Learn in Color, Samantha Shank. She started Learn in Color at the age of 14 and over the last five years has created a magnificent resource of both free and per peice items. Samantha offers many free work sheets and resources, while asking a small fee for others. Samantha is an inspiring young entrepreneur and Learn in Color is a vualuable resource for any homescooler to take note of.
Boxes, crates, kits, call them want you want, mystery packages ordered by subscription seem to be infiltrating our lives from all directions. From boxes full of new outfits to fishing lures and reels, from make-up to athletic gear or even healthy dinners: they run the gamut. If there's a hobby or something that interests you, there's a box made especially for you. They even have boxes for education. I never thought I would succumb to the gimmicky overpriced boxes on the internet, but when my wife thought they might make a neat Christmas present, my apprehension was overruled. Most subscriptions are set up so that you can go with a one month renewal – that of course comes at a premium – or some longer duration (3/6/12 months). Being that we have three children in the house that might enjoy said boxes, we decided to order three different boxes as one month subscriptions, and cancel them after Christmas.
There were a plethora of boxes to choose from, and at times it got a little overwhelming, but we finally decided to go with Raddish (Rad Dish), Green Kid Crafts, and Groovy Lab in a Box. They were meant as group gifts for the three older kids, so no single box was purchased with a specific child in mind. At the time of publishing this post, only two of them have arrived. When purchasing these boxes, it is important to mind the ship dates. Some subscriptions will ship your order as that months box right away some will wait until the following full month and send that month’s subscription.
This particular review focuses on Raddish. (If you want the really short version and the discount code, skip to the bottom.) I have to say when we stumbled across Raddish my wife was pretty stoked. Both of our kids really enjoy cooking and our foster-daughter seems to be getting interested (she’s 3.5). And of course, cooking is a great way to learn math and do some work with basic fractions. After looking over the website, we decided to give it a go. It seemed to fit in the price range of all the other boxes, coming in at $24/month with free shipping for US based customers. (They offer a $2 a month discount for six month subscriptions and a $4 a month discount for 12 month subscriptions.) For three month and longer subscriptions you get a bonus Raddish Apron. We opted for the one month subscription.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when the box came. I knew it had a “kitchen tool” and would contain a shopping list, and some recipes. And while it was a Christmas present for the kids, I was kind of excited to open the box and take a peak at what was inside. It’s a nice looking box, decorated in lime and pink with a relatively simple Raddish logo. Of course, when I opened the box, I was quickly disappointed. I thumbed through the recipe cards, looked at the “table talk” guide questions, looked for the “game” and played with the “kitchen tool” which happened to be a timer. It’s a half-way decent timer as far as kitchen timers go (something like this), but after I went online to verify the price was indeed $24, I promptly canceled our subscription. Again, I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but what we received seemed far from a $24 value.
When we were checking out, there was an option to order an extra kitchen tool if we were going to be sharing the box – one for each kid kind of thing. We thought about it for a moment, and then passed. There was no telling what the “tool” was and going by some of the older boxes we weren’t sure we’d really need three of anything: oven mits, spatulas, etc. In the end, we’re glad we didn’t order three. The tool this month was a timer, and we really would have had no need for three timers. As it stands, we don’t even really need one timer. You see, we have a timer on the oven, and another on the microwave. I also have a cell phone, and on it is yet another timer. Now the timer we recieved is a very nice timer of the egg-timing variety, and my son has since used it to start timing his sister’s completion of menial tasks, yet it certainly isn’t a necessesity and can probably be purchased for under $10.
Next out of the box was a cooking badge. The ultimate in gimmicky, it’s an iron on patch with a picture of a mixing bowl and spoon. Cheese, cheese, cheese. I can kind of see the appeal for some kids, but again, ultimately unnecessary.
With both the timer and patch out of the way, all that was left was a stack of cards. The first two went together. Both cards are printed front and back on heavyweight card stock and are part of the craft. On the primary card are the directions for the craft: a Cookie Jar Gift. Essentially it’s mixing the dry ingredients for a batch of cookies in a mason jar. You’re supposed to pour the ingredients in gently and I’m sure it produces a layered look akin to those poured sand crafts. The second card can be cut down the middle to produce two hang tags for your mason jar. On one side is a nice To/From section and the other is the instructions for adding wet ingredients and actually making the cookies. It’s cute. It’s neat, and it’s nothing that can’t be found on Pinterest.
Pawing through the box some more are two more card stock cards. The first is just an
overview of the the box, what culinary skills your child will be mastering, the recipes included, (what Raddish has deemed) collectibles, and the games and activities. On the back of the card is a shopping list of ingredients of what you’ll need for each recipe. The second of these two cards has the game on it. (I didn’t think it was much of a game, but I’m pretty sure the Cookie Mason Jar was the activity which leaves this card as the game.) The game was a review of what
the child learned, by essentially ticking off a box about what they learned – presumably after they’ve recited to a parent what it is they’re checking off. The back of the second card is where some of the educational stuff kicks in as it includes some discussion questions about the lesson and how to use the timer.
With the stock cards out of the way it’s time to get down to the recipe cards: nice tri-fold cards heavily laminated that could stand alone. Each recipe card is laid out nicely with prep and cook time and yield on the front. Inside the tri-fold are illustrated lists of ingredients and cooking tools, as well as step-by-step instructions of how to craft your food. The pictures are telling and if your chef couldn’t read they might be able to get by, but would probably need some help deciphering the actual cooking instructions. On the backside of each card are different “Featured Culinary Skills,” for this month it was oven safety, baking cookies, and mastering measuring spoons. Also included on the back are two additional topics that vary from card to card. For this month there was instructions on how to run a cookie swap as well as how to do some calculations for circles (radius, diameter, circumference), a gingerbread game that included smelling ingredients and a little breakdown of the specifics of whole wheat.
Lastly out of the box are the “collectible” table talk cards. There are four cards made of a thicker plastic material that can be punched out of the sheet they’re in, and strung onto a key ring of sorts should you choose to do so. On the back of each table talk card is a question meant to inspire discussion and thoughtfulness. I suppose at times, they might be nice, but if you can’t talk about what you just did with your child and you need a plastic card to direct the conversation, there’s probably other things that need to be worked on. With that said, the cards did spark a little interest among the children, specifically the explanation of a cookie they want to invent.
As you go through the box, you’ll notice that they refer you to their website fairly often, and this is with good reason. There are some other activities on the website, but there are also some lesson plans to go with each recipe. Lessons are laid out to last 45-90 minutes. Honestly, these were the most useful things out of the whole box, and they can be found online for free. (You can also find dietary substitutions on the website.)
Overall, my seven year old son really enjoyed it. He does a lot of cooking, and has just gotten into doing it on his own. He enjoyed making the Festive Pizza Wreath (pizza style Monkey Bread) and sharing it with us for lunch. Of course, he also enjoys printing recipes off of the Highlights website or anywhere else we let him explore and cooking those.
He really enjoys playing with the timer and using it home school his younger sister
If you like gimmicky stuff and your house has room for it, there’s lots of eye catching things in these boxes
Lesson plans online can be helpful if you really want to make a lesson out of this.
It’s expensive. For $24 a month, my child can find recipes online and we can do everything the box set out to do. It requires thought, but it’s possible
Lots of gimmicky stuff that just adds to clutter.
Overview: We canceled it right away. There was nothing we couldn’t do ourselves, and felt the $24 could go further if we bought our own stuff to create cooking lessons. The lesson plans online can be useful and may make the $24 price tag reasonable.
If you plan on purchasing a subscription for Raddish, on our box was a $10 discount code. I’m not sure if it’s $10 for one box, or if it has to be a subscription of x-months, but here it is: TNVDY3 If you choose to use the code, let me know how the discount worked.
Addendum: That sweet timer that came in this box just broke less than a month later. Bummer.