The Toniebox is the only place where you can belt it out like Elsa, listen to a story from Grandma, and sing along with Sully from Monsters Inc. all within minutes of each other.
From Tonies, a company that is barely a year old in the U.S., the Toniebox system of screenless entertainment for kids is a cube-shaped audio box that kids can use to listen to songs and stories anywhere. Available in six colors — blue, purple, red, green, pink, and grey — each Toniebox Starter Set comes with a Toniebox, a Creative Tonie (more on that later), and a charging cable.
The Toniebox itself is a soft, 5-by-5-inch box that is soft and squishy to the touch, making it small enough for little hands and strong enough to withstand bumps, falls, and other accidents. Made for kids ages 3 and up, the kid-tough box is made of durable fabric without screens, sharp corners or edges, and complicated buttons. In fact, there are only two buttons on the whole thing, hidden inside the ears’ design.
When kids place various compatible figures (Tonies and Creative Tonies) on top of the magnetic base, the Toniebox will activate songs and stories attached to that figure. The Toniebox fosters imagination and is a fun and kid-safe way for preschoolers to play independently. And, it’s small enough to take on the go.
Parents will need to help their kids set up their Toniebox for the first time. The instructions are easy to follow and guide you through the whole setup process, which can take place on the mytonies app or on an Internet browser. Parents will only have to connect the Toniebox one time, but it’s important to note that if you take it somewhere with a new Internet connection, you will have to connect it again. The Toniebox will remember up to seven WiFi connections. After my second try, I was able to connect my Toniebox to WiFi (shout out to the impeccable Tonies Support Team!).
Now, the fun part begins! The starter set comes with a Creative Tonie that matches the color of the box. Tonies are a whimsical collection of hand-painted characters that have endless stories to tell and worlds to explore. Just like the story box, these are made of a high-quality, kid-proof material. I love that the Tonies figures can also double as action figures to add to kids’ collections.
With Creative Tonies, parents can use the app to upload up to 90 minutes of stories or songs. Tonies also has a large library of content to upload, some of which are free and others that you can pay for. My favorite part of these types of Tonies is that you can upload and personalize your own recordings, so you could surprise kids with a story read by grandparents, for example. I think this is so sweet and critical to supporting kids’ emotions during a time when we may not get to see our loved ones so often.
There are more than 20 other Tonies available, including those made up by the geniuses at Tonies, including a sweet little fox that will sing bedtime songs and lullabies, and kids’ favorite characters, including Peter Rabbit and Disney favorites like Elsa from Frozen, Peppa Pig, Sully from Monsters Inc., Cinderella, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Simba from The Lion King, and more.
When kids place a Tonies character on top of the Toniebox, they will sing or read their story almost instantly. Take the figure off, and it will stop as immediately. If you place it back on, the Tonie will pick back up from where it left off. Each tonies has anywhere between about 20 to 40 minutes of audio content, whether that be Elsa singing through some of Frozen’s best songs or some of the best Peppa Pig episodes. Each Tonie figure also reinforces teaching moments for kids, like building friendships, teamwork, and not judging a book by its cover.
The Toniebox is also intuitive to use. Use the attached ears to change the volume or rotate the box on its side to skip over sounds, for example. There is also a headphone jack that kids can use to plug in with any compatible headphone or one of Tonies’ headphones.
Bringing a screen-free listening device to entertain young kids in this day and age is not an easy feat, but Tonies passes with flying colors.