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Ages 3 and up

October 1, 2010

Last week a friend was in town, on the last leg of a eight week, 7000 mile road trip.  Her three kids are the ages of my middle three –  9, 7, 4.  Since my three older kids were in school and our guests were not, their dad and I needed something to keep them occupied on their first morning here while their mom had breakfast with a friend.  I decided to pull out one of my children’s favorite craft projects and once again it was a success!  In our experience, it works for both genders and multiple ages, something not all craft projects accomplish!  Perler craft beads.

For me, I’ve found that around age three, kids have the patience and the fine motor skills to make small designs.  My preschooler really likes to pick up beads at random and put them on the templates.  The end product is beautiful in it’s simple abstractness.  My older children, are all about the creation and design.  Carefully planning out designs in their minds, selecting the right color combinations.  The creativity and imagination that comes from taking a blank template and thousands of colored beads and turning them into a small piece of art, is something they love, and are immensity proud of.

The perler beads stayed on the dining room table for a couple of days.  Throughout their stay, all 7 of  the kids (we were careful to keep the two year old occupied with other things, as her idea of playing with beads tends to quick and destructive, making a huge mess and causing tears) would crowd around the dining room table and make shape after shape, design after design, each one vastly different than the last, some realistic and some abstract.  It’s a super cheap craft with endless possibilities and great staying power.

If you’re considering these activity beads for your kids, might I provide a few tips … since for nearly three years these beads have been apart of my kids craft cupboard, my approach has evolved.

  • First, melt the daylights out of those beads – you want them completely fused together, otherwise they break very easily.
  • Second, in comparison to some of their other crafts of choice (paint, glue, clay/playdough, etc.), the mess here is minimal … I should explain that those beads end up everywhere … but I no longer get down on my hands and knees and search for every bead, sorting them back into their little compartments. Whatever the kids don’t get picked up gets sucked up by the vacuum, thank goodness for vacuum hose attachments.
  • Third, all projects must be finished, no unfinished projects sitting on the buffet for weeks and weeks getting knocked about. They are now, either finished right then and there, or they are dumped back into the bucket.
  • Fourth, encourage your children to give their creations as gifts … they make fun “sun catchers” for your windows, key chains, and coasters, and since they are flat, they mail well – perfect for sending to far away family and friends.

* Linking up to “The Play Academy” again.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 6, 2010 1:30 pm

    My oldest loves these too and I think it’s a great idea to make keyrings with them to give as presents. Thanks for sharing with us at the Play Academy – hope to see you this Friday too. Cathy

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