My 5 year old daughter is very artsy-crafty. She loves anything to do with creative and artistic expression. When we were given the opportunity to review Super Beads from Zirrly, I knew she would appreciate the chance to try them. After looking over the different sets, she was very interested in the Jungle Animals, and she was thrilled when they arrived!
Zirrly offers a variety of arts and crafts items, and Super Beads are a beading activity that do not require a hot iron or glue to fuse the designs together. I was very intrigued by the idea, because I was hopeful it would leave more room for independence with small children.
Included in this kit:
- 2,000+ beads in multiple colors
- 6 puzzle trays
- 7 pattern cards (six animals)
- spray bottle
- plastic tool
The process is fairly simple. You choose a design and place the pattern card behind the tray. The lion requires two cards and two trays, and the trays will connect together. Then the crafter can place the beads on top of the correct color. Once the pattern is complete, you spray the beads with water. The water "activates" the beads, and they basically fuse themselves together. Finally, they need time to dry. I will say, even following the directions, it took us some trial and error to figure out how much water to use and how long to dry the creation. It needs a solid spray, without soaking it, and excess water needs to be drained. (Too much water makes the beads mushy.) They need at least an hour to dry, and if they aren't fused, just give another spritz and let dry longer. If you are able to remove it cleanly from the tray, you may need to flip and dry the other side, but otherwise you can put the stands on and you creation is finished!
Another minor issue we found is that we didn't know for the first few projects that the beads were "marked" and are supposed to be placed onto the tray in a specific way. This helps them stick together better, I guess. Even after I pointed out how they're supposed to go, she's only 5 and doesn't always remember to check. So you may not get the best results with younger kids, but we found that our projects stills stayed together very well.
Our beads were packaged in small quantities by color, so I only opened one pack of a color as she asked for it, then refilled as she ran out. The box came with a tray that has multiple compartments, so it is perfect for separating the beads. This tray, and limiting the amount of beads accessible at one time, kept me from worrying about big spills and beads scattering everywhere.
She started out with the elephant, which wasn't intentional, but it turned out to be a good choice. The elephant uses limited colors and is a very simple pattern, which makes it a good first project. Then we worked up to the animals with more colors and intricate beading patterns.
Eleanor has enjoyed making the animals, even if they aren't all technically 'jungle' animals, and it's a fun choice to mix into her art activities. We have found that some colors, the orange and black especially, will transfer color to hands and other beads, but it washes off hands easily. The plastic tool comes in handy too. If she accidentally put a bead in the wrong spot, we could just pop the bead off quickly with it. I also used it sometimes to help slide the finished product off the tray.
Once they are put together, they are hardy - even with the 3 year old grabbing at them and playing with them, they've held up very well. If they fall apart, their are instructions for repairing them.
Final ThoughtsThis product is recommended for ages 5+ and with a young 5 year old, I found I did need to be partially involved. She needed me to put the the pattern behind the tray (I usually taped it, because it would fall loose sometimes), I regulated the amount of water, and I removed it from the tray. She did all the beading and the water spritzing. I think parents of kids on the younger end will need to be helpers, while older children can work much more independently, especially since there is no need for an iron! The water is the glue, and it works very well!
Overall, I have found this a great beginning handicraft. It requires patience, attention to detail, fine motor skills, and it produces a finished product relatively quickly with diligent work.
There are other sets of Super Beads that include 3D models and jewelry, and though we haven't explored additional activities with them, I know there are a lot of possibilities, making the handicraft possibilities more open-ended. In fact, the crew has been reviewing a variety of sets, so I recommend checking out what other families think!
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