As my son was approaching three years of age, I was aware of all the toys and activities that he could now enjoy, as quite often I would pick up a toy that carried the unsuitable for children younger than three years symbol. I was quite excited once he reached his third birthday, as there would be more activities and games we could enjoy. Whilst out shopping, I decided to take a trip to Hobby Craft, as I really like browsing around looking at all the different art and craft type activities that they have on offer. We occasionally buy something from Hobby Craft as a treat, as they stock a versatile range of crafts and activities that are interesting and different.
I excitedly looked around at all that was on offer that I could now buy for my son, as there was a good choice of different activities to choose from, I was now spoilt for choice. I happened to notice the Hama bead sets hanging on a display, and I was amazed to see that they now do a range for younger children that have larger beads. I remember my daughter enjoying creating patterns with Hama beads when she was little. However, they only came in one size, and the standard size is quite tiny. Hobby Craft have several different sets that are available with larger beads that are designed for children as young as three years of age. There is quite a difference in the size of the beads, however, they are still quite small, making it an activity that requires full on supervision. After perusing the shelf and looking at the different sets that were suitable I finally decided upon the dinosaur, as I knew this would appeal to my son, as he loves dinosaurs.
>>> Buying-asaurus <<<
The set comes packaged in a plastic outer case making it easy to view the contents within, with a card backing, which means that there is no box to keep everything stored together during the creation process. It would have been preferable if it had a box, as the beads do tend to get everywhere, so they do need to be contained so not to lose any. I immediately had to find a suitable container to keep the beads together, and I had to store the board separately. The set comes provided with everything to create a decorative dinosaur, there are an assortment of 250 coloured beads, along with a transparent dinosaur shaped pegboard, a sheet of ironing paper, as well as a set of instructions, and a picture of the finished product that is to be used as a guide to create the dinosaur. Though, you can place the beads in any pattern you wish to create your own unique masterpiece.
>>> Making-asaurus <<<
The concept is quite simple; place the coloured beads onto the pegboard one by one to assemble a pattern or design. Once the creator is happy with their design, then an adult will need to use the ironing paper provided to fuse the beads together, simply by running a hot iron slowly over the paper until the pattern is evident and the beads have fused together. Leave it to cool, and peal the design carefully from the board to see the magnificent creation. This sounds easy; however, it requires a high level of patience and determination, and good hand-eye coordination skills, focus and concentration to complete the task. Be prepared for some quiet time, as this activity will have any youngster engaged in the task once in catches their attention.
I did wonder if my son would actually create the design, as it is an activity that requires a level of skill and concentration. My son is quite a boisterous little monster, and I could just envisage him dipping his hands into the beads and shaking them wildly in excitement. Although I was unsure if my son would actually take part in the activity, I decided to buy a set anyway, as I could always save it up for when he was ready. I was quite eager to get started, and hoped that my son would show interest, otherwise I would have to play alone, and it is always more fun when you have someone else to share the fun with. I placed the transparent board onto the table and kept the tub of beads close by to prevent my son from going crazy with them, and also to ensure that he wouldn't try to eat any of them, as he still puts objects to his mouth from time to time, so I am always vigilant with small items.
I sat my son in his seat, and I showed him the dinosaur shape, I proceeded to place the pegs onto the board, and my son sat and watched. I carefully and quietly placed the beads onto the board whilst humming gently. I was astounded when my son started to join in taking the beads carefully from the box and placing them directly onto the pegs. I was very pleased, and we continued to assemble the dinosaur together. I was stunned to see my lively toddler in deep concentration, as he was fully absorbed in the activity at hand. This kept his concentration and full focus for a good amount of time.
>>> What We Think-asaurus <<<
It does take an awful lot of skill, patience, and determination to complete the activity, as each bead has to be perfectly placed onto the individual pegs. The beads become trickier to place onto the pegs the more that are added, and careful movements are required so not to knock any of the other beads from their pegs that have been previously placed onto the board. Filling in the gaps requires a good level of coordination, and slow careful movements.
It took many hours to construct the dinosaur, as we had many practice sessions, to create the perfect masterpiece. I didn't want to complete it after just constructing it once, as I wanted my son to get the full benefit from the activity, and often we would only get half way, as it takes a long time to complete. Each time I would put the beads back into the tub to start the activity from new each time to get plenty of practice. After much time, we decided to save the dinosaur during construction to complete it the following day, as it takes an awful long time to place 250 beads onto a small space. On the second day, the activity required a higher level of concentration, and more intricate movements to carefully position the remainder of the beads onto the board. My son concentrated mostly on the green beads, and I had a helping hand, and assisted him with the other colours that needed to be placed in particular locations on the board. The last few beads left me feeling excited, and I was amazed at the sheer determination and concentration my little boy showed. He did, of course, become excited from time to time, however, when he lost concentration we moved onto another activity, and returned to the dinosaur the following day.
>>> Finishing Him Off-asaurus <<<
Once all of the beads were positioned onto the board, I had to carefully move it back to allow my son to admire his creation, after all, I didn't want him to knock them all off after all that effort. I waited until I was able to safely iron the beads to fuse the pattern together. This requires little effort, and it will do no harm to the iron (which I had to specifically buy to finish the activity). It takes a couple of minutes to slowly run the iron over the pattern, and this completes the task. The plastic beads do become quite hot, so allow sufficient amount of time before removing from the board. Whilst it is still slightly warm, it is advisable to place the creation between something that is flat and heavy for a while to ensure that it is left completely flat.
The finished product is better than expected, and my son was very pleased to see it complete, and he was in awe of his marvellous creation. I did have visions of the dinosaur being broken within minutes, as my little boy is a little bit excitable and enthusiastic with his toys. Thankfully, the dinosaur remained intact whilst my son admired and played with it, as it is fairly robust. However, it isn't designed to be used as a toy, as it is more an activity, and the finished product is more for display purposes, and is nice to keep. I am very proud of the finished product, and the wonderful masterpiece that my son and I created. It proved to be a popular activity that kept my son entertained for many hours.
>>> What Can We Learn-asaurus <<<
Hama beads are not only great fun, they provide many educational benefits. The activity requires a high level of patience and concentration, and it is important to hone in on a little ones concentration skills at a young age, as this prepares them for school. As well as improving on concentration and focus, it also promotes hand-eye coordination. The small beads allow a child to learn how to manipulate the pieces, as this requires a lot of skill in itself, which improves fine motor skills. It is an activity that promotes determination, as it takes a lot of dedication to complete the activity. There is a mixture of colours that reinforce colour recognition. Though this is a set activity it still allows for creativity to some degree, as it is not essential to follow the design, and the board can be used to create small patterns. Quiet activities such as this require thought, and this promotes an active mind. As this particular set is aimed at younger children, it is a joint activity, as an adult will need to closely supervise, and this will encourage time together to bond and share fun timestogether. Completion of the design gives a child a sense of accomplishment, and it boosts self esteem and confidence.
>>> Very Impressed-asaurus <<<
I did at first think that this was a little expensive, and I was unsure if it would appeal to my son. I was pleased to find that this was worth every penny, and it was a very enjoyable activity that proved to keep my son's attention, and it holds many educational benefits. The board can be reused provided that care is taken when ironing and removing the pattern. There are a few spare beads, to allow for a few to be lost which is inevitable with items like this. Thankfully, we had enough to finish the creation and we still have a few extra beads left. As this activity promotes concentration, it is very calming and therapeutic which means that the beads tend to be respected. I have gone on to buy another set, and I am looking forward to starting the next creation.
This is a wonderful activity for younger children, as it really captures their attention, and it is enthralling to see their face light up when the design is complete. The maxi beads are the first stage, and as a child learns and progresses, there are two further sizes of beads which offer more of a challenge for older children. The Hama beads are a wonderful way for children to get creative, and it is an activity that can be enjoyed from as young as age three, and there are many sets that offer more of a challenge, so it is an activity that can be enjoyed with older children too. These sets make a lovely gift, and are a different creative activity that can improve many skills.
Warning: Though the set is recommended for children three years and up, it still poses a choking hazard, so careful supervision is required at all times.
* 250 Beads
* One Large Transparent Board
* Design Sheet
* Ironing Paper
* Full Instructions
For children aged 3 and above.