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.
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:
It may look like a paintball massacre but it's definitely a penguin.
The heart board is quite small. She does that one a lot...
...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.
- Encourages patience and concentration.
- Has the potential to keep them quiet for a long time.
- You might even get some coasters out of it.
- 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...