This Winter we have not spent as much time outside because we are still getting into the rhythm of having a baby. Working around naps and nursing and getting all bundled up to get out the door has been an adjustment. But when we do get outside, even for just 30 minutes, we sure do feel better. And if I am being honest, this Winter it has been too easy for me to just want to stay cuddled up inside every day. My 9 year old, however, needs to get outside and play and run and climb. It really is good for the soul to get fresh air every day. One way that motivates me to get outside more this Winter, is by enjoying our Think Outside Box subscription.
We had our December box delivered while we were out of town for a couple weeks and then got our January box a week or so ago. Liam, Theo and I trudged through the deep snow into our neighbor’s forest to open both boxes. It made opening our Think Outside Box even more special! If you are new to Think Outside Boxes, I wrote a full detailed review in this post. It has been by far our favorite monthly subscription box. This box is full of useful gear and learning resources, not junky toys that end up in the landfill. Some pieces have been so good that both my husband and I have borrowed gear from my son!
Besides building a pretty impressive arsenal of outdoor adventure gear, we are both learning so much from each box. We have not even done every activity yet in most boxes! I plan to do half of the activities as we receive each box, and then next year do each box again, finishing the different activities. Doing this gives us two full years worth of learning and adventuring together! If you are hesitant about the investment of a full year subscription, stretching this out to 2 years can help justify that upfront cost! I truly believe that these boxes are worth every penny but I know how it is to be on a tight budget. If your family can’t do a full year, I would recommend asking for this subscription as a gift! If grandparents or aunts and uncles are asking about birthday or Christmas gift ideas, Think Outside is a perfect option! They even have a printable gift certificate the gifter can send to the recipient. Price: a full year is $35.95 a month or if you go month to month, it is $39.95 a box. They also have a quarterly and half-year option.
Each Box Includes
- 3 to 5 pieces of quality outdoor gear
- Water-resistant reference cards
- 28+ page educational booklet
- Hands-on activities
- Challenges to do as a family
- Education and skill building
- Monthly themes, such as navigation, shelter building, or star gazing
- National park spotlights
- Global features
- Empathy section
The December Box
December’s Think Outside Box is REPAIR and came with a mini sewing repair kit along with a basics of sewing tutorial. My son thought the foldable scissors were really cool ! You also get 10 feet of paracord, a multi-tool, a repair patch, and duct tape. The booklet for this box is packed full of valuable life skills that can be applied in every day life as well as in the wilderness. Being able to repair and mend our tools and gear is something that I personally want to learn more about! In a culture where we tend to just toss broken items instead of repairing, I appreciate the lessons of the importance of less waste. Besides sewing basics, there is also a tutorial on how to make a drawstring bag and some unique projects and uses of paracord. The duct tape survival tips were a hit with my son as well! The booklet gives a list of repair ideas and survival/ first aid ideas. I even learned some new tips and tricks.
The January Box
The January Think Outside Box is KNOTS. We have not started doing any of these activities yet but opened the box and looked through the gear and flipped through the booklet. I am very excited to learn more knots! In this box you get a hydration pack, 550 paracord, and a carabiner gear set. You and your kiddos can learn how to build a knot tying station, do some basic knots, how to hang a bear bag, learn about pulley systems, and how to use the carabiner set. This set has the typical D Ring carabiner, a Dual Carabiner, a T-Ring Hook, a Figure 9 Rope Tensioner, a Paracord Tensioner, and a Tactical Gear Clip. I didn’t even know most of these existed ! These will definitely come in handy when we are camping this Summer.
Think Outside Boxes & Homeschooling
Opening these boxes with my son got us both so excited to learn and apply our new skills outside. It is easy to weave these monthly boxes into our weekly homeschool rhythm. Fridays is our day for all things nature and outdoors. That doesn’t mean we are limited to spending time outside only on Fridays, but it’s a day we set aside for the outdoors so we make sure we aren’t going through each week putting nature play on the back burner. We learn so much from these boxes. Each booklet has the activities and lessons on how to use the gear you get in each box. The booklets also have a section in the back that teaches children a new empathy emotion such as anxiety or disabilities or reuse/recycle etc. These have created really great conversation and lots of questions with my kiddo. Think Outside Box makes it pretty easy to use their boxes as curriculum when they incorporate STEM, Creativity, Critical and Strategic Thinking, Empathy, Outdoor Life Skills and Hands-on Activities. Go to the Think Outside Box website and click “Education”. Then under “The Lesson Plan” you can click on each month’s box and print out a lesson plan that includes vocab, discussion questions to ask your children, and an evaluation section that can test your child’s new knowledge or skill.
Simple Tips To Make Getting Outside In The Winter Easier:
- Dressing appropriately can make or break your time outside in the Winter months. Here in NW Montana, Winter is long and cold. Proper layers and gear makes all the difference! To read how we stay warm in the Winter months and what we use for each layer, head to this post.
- Keep all your gear in one spot! There is nothing like trying to get out the door sweating with all your layers on looking for a mitten. We hang our coats and snowpants on hooks and then keep hats and gloves in a basket by the door. We also just recently got a nice deep boot tray from Costco for the garage which has helped keep the foyer a little less muddy. We keep our muck boots and snow boots out there.
- If your child’s outerwear is soaked from time spent outside, I recommend throwing it right into the dryer. We like to go out for several short bursts throughout the day (especially when it’s really cold with the baby). So instead of waiting for snowpants and gloves and coats to dry, I just throw them straight into the dryer and as soon as they are done drying I try to hang them back up on those hooks by the door.
- Bring a pack with a few essentials. We walk back almost a mile to the river behind our house, which can be far for little legs and for me carrying baby Theo. If we plan to walk back that far, I always ask Liam to grab his pack. In his pack I try to keep a few basic supplies just in case. A water bottle, a mini first aid kit ( I share how we make ours in this post), a bell on his bag to warn bears we are there, a pocket knife, and an emergency whistle. We don’t have cell service back there so in case something happens, I don’t want to be stuck back there helpless with the kids. Even if you are just going to the park or sledding at your local sledding hill, these things are always nice to have, just in case.
- Something else that we bring often is hot cocoa. Now this is an extra step so if we are trying to quickly get out the door, we skip this. But sometimes this is a good incentive for us both to get outside. There is just something about drinking a steaming cup of cocoa from a thermos in the snow. It warms you up from the inside out. We have an old Stanley thermos that comes with us on many of our adventures. If we are trying to go on a hike or snowshoeing, I tell my son we will stop to have the hot cocoa at a certain point on the trail to keep him motivated to keep going!
- Bring a sled if you have things to carry or have babies/toddlers. We have the LL Bean wood sled that has been amazing for baby Theo. He is a big boy and carrying him with his slippery snowsuit is not for the weak. We have another cheap plastic sled that is very lightweight and perfect for pulling a tarp to sit on, a blanket, and that hot cocoa. And it’s just another thing for your kiddos to play with. We brought our sled to the park in town the other day and it was entertainment for all the kids there !
If you find yourself wanting to get outside more this Winter with your kids, but you or your kiddos just lack the motivation… give Think Outside Boxes a try! You and your children will love opening these monthly boxes and doing all the fun activities in each box. It’s a really great excuse to get outside and enjoy some crisp fresh Winter air as a family.
Thank you to Think Outside for this ongoing partnership and for providing my family product in exchange for review. As always, all opinions are my own.