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Hama beads

Hama beads box.

Price: £Various.

Contents: A typical set consists of:
  • Two or three peg boards.
  • A stupidly large number of cylindrical plastic beads in a variety of colours.
  • A few little stands for displaying completed designs.
How does it works? A pattern or picture is created by placing the beads onto pegs on a board. A special sheet of paper is placed on top of the design and then a hot iron is rubbed over it for a few seconds. The heat fuses the beads together. The paper and board can then be pealed off to use again.

Hama beads contents

What does it make? A thin, but reasonably durable, mosaic.

How long does it take?: Ten square inches of board (for small beads) should keep a three-year-old busy long enough for you to clean most of the house. (You might want to leave a Tweenies DVD on to keep them company...)

Age: 3+ for safety but 5+ is the recommended age to make sure they can cope with the fiddliness. My three-year-old gets by, though.

Comments: Sproglette persuaded me to purchase a small set of this against my better judgement. I assumed she'd get bored and frustrated and give up after five minutes. (I know I would). Still, she smiled and said, 'Please!' which is more than the boys ever do, so I decided to just go with it. To my surprise, when she's in the mood, she can spend hours patiently searching out the exact beads she wants and painstakingly threading them onto the pegs. OK, she doesn't have the ability to design proper pictures but, because the boards are shaped, all she needs do is fill every peg in order to create something with a recognisable outline:

Hama beads penguin.
It may look like a paintball massacre but it's definitely a penguin.
Hama beads hearts.
The heart board is quite small. She does that one a lot...
Hama beads pink heart.
...but we're out of pink beads.

Sprog2 has even joined in on occasion. The whole room was filled with the quiet hum of little minds concentrating really, really hard.

There are apparently three different sizes of bead. Bigger beads presumably mean that they're easier to handle but you get fewer beads. Fewer and easier beads means a dirtier house - it's probably worth experimenting to find the optimum balance between your child's patience and the amount of time you get for cleaning.

Conclusion: I can't see every child going for it but those that do will be absorbed for hours.

Pros:
  • Encourages patience and concentration.
  • Colourful.
  • Has the potential to keep them quiet for a long time.
  • You might even get some coasters out of it.
Cons:
  • Kids might give up really quickly.
  • A half-finished project is a storage nightmare.
  • Requires locating your iron and dusting it off.
  • You'll have to transfer each finished design from the table to somewhere where you can iron it. Don't sneeze.
  • Small children + a tub of 3000 little plastic beads. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Probably best not to put hot drinks on those coasters...
Rating: 4/5.


2 comments:

Duncan Conner said...

A good and fair (and amusing) review of Hama Beads. For reference Hama Maxi beads (the largest size) are designed for 3-5 year olds. Midi beads are for 5 yrs+. Mini beads - well, good luck if you want to try them. They're tiny and need a stylus to put them onto the peg boards.

DadsDinner said...

Thanks, Duncan, that's useful info.

Can't say I've ever seen the Mini beads in shops. Sproglette did insist on trying out a couple of the Maxi sets recently, though. I wasn't impressed with them. The peg boards were plain squares. This is supposedly to allow kids to design their own shapes but Sproglette just tried to fill the board. Sadly, there weren't enough beads in the kit to do that. She was done in a few minutes and we finished up with a half-size place mat with a rectangular hole in it.

The Midi beads are definitely the way to go.