* Prices may differ from that shown
Last Christmas I was looking at things to buy my two children as presents. As well as traditional toys, I like to buy them some craft items as they provide hours of entertainment. One thing that appealed to me was Hama beads. With my youngest being 4 and a half at Christmas time, I no longer had to worry too much about the choking hazard of small parts, and I was free to browse amongst the hama beads sets.
I picked up two - one was a Ben 10 character set which I knew would appeal to both my sons as they are fans of the cartoon and toys. I then chose a pirate set for my youngest as I had bought him a playmobil pirate ship. Of the two sets, they both decided to open the Ben 10 set first, so it has only been more recently that they have opened this second set.
Hama beads are little plastic beads that have a hole through the middle. They come in many different colours, and you use them to create a design on a peg board. When your design is done, you use heat from an iron to fuse the beads together so they can be removed from the board staying in the design you have made.
This particular pirate set came with two square peg boards that can be joined together to make larger designs. There are 4000 coloured beads in midi size. These came in two bags of jumbled up colours, so before we could do anything, we needed to sort these colours out into little tubs so that my children could find the ones that they needed for a design more easily.
Also in the set were pictoral instructions to make several different designs - two different pirate figures, a sword and a bottle, a flag, and a boat. There was also two preformed stands so that the model boat could be stood upright when made. The kit also contained a large sheet of ironing paper to put over the top of the design before ironing to prevent the iron getting covered in bits of molten plastic.
As with the Ben 10 set, we found that there was more than enough beads to make up each of the models shown in the kit leaving about half of the quantity to either remake some models, or for my children to come up with some of their own designs. Something I was really impressed with was my eldest son saw a picture of a parrot on the rear of the box, and out of his own head he came up with a design for a parrot. There really is a lot of freedom with hama beads to make your ideas become reality.
The recommended age on this kit was 5 plus. This made me think that my youngest son might have got a lot out of it. However, he has not really been that bothered by using the hama beads leaving these kits for his 6 year old brother to play with. I think part of the problem is he finds it really tricky to transfer the idea from the instructions to the board. He just seems to not have the patience for it. He is also a little clumsy and knocks the board quite easily undoing the work he has managed to do, so he decided that it was easier not to do it. He likes the toy when coming up with something from his own head as there is less pressure there to do it perfectly.
The set cost me around £12 from amazon. The prices on these kits do seem to go up and down throughout the year, but I feel for the amount of entertainment my eldest has had from the kit, that the price is suitable. There are hours of fun ahead of you if you start making the models from the kit. Just think about the type of child you are buying this for. Now I know it is not sensible to buy this sort of thing again for my 5 year old, but my 6 year old loves them and would sit there for a whole afternoon just doing this activity.