Have you played with hama beads yet? They are a craft activity, involving placing little cylindrical beads onto a pegboard and then ironing them in order to melt them together and make them stick into a solid unit. When I first came across them the idea appealed. Something creative, yet not too messy. I do struggle to find “craft-y” activities to do with the kids, maybe this could be good for that.
My first experience with hama beads was not brilliant. Despite repeated ironing the dratted beads would NOT stick together, and so the beautiful butterfly that the geekdaughter and I had spent the afternoon assembling was soon abandoned, too broken to do anything with. So when the lovely Merry from BeadMerrily asked for bloggers to review Hama Beads for her, I was a little apprehensive. However after a quick hunt around her site I discovered that there is such a thing as no-iron hama beads, which sounded like a much better bet, so I agreed to give those a go.
Our previous failed experience was with the Maxi beads, which are big and chunky. They have a recommended age of 3 and up, although you could use them with younger kids provided they’ve got over the “putting things in their mouth” stage. Merry very kindly sent a maxi bead kit for me to occupy the geekson with whilst the geekdaughter and I were crafting with the midi beads for her non-iron set, and he got on with it pretty well, making a good job of matching the colours of the beads with the colours of the pattern. It started falling apart right after my first ironing attempt (see the picture at the top of this post), but I refused to be defeated this time, and kept going back and re-ironing it until it had been ironed to within an inch of its life. It’s still holding together now, despite the geekson’s quite rough handling of it, so I’ve come to the conclusion that the trick with standard hama beads is just to iron them A LOT!
With all this going on, I wasn’t expecting the geekdaughter to get on as well with her kit as she did. She’s not known for her patience or powers of concentration, but the kit kept her quiet for a very long period of time, and she’s gone back to it several times since our initial crafting session to continue adding beads. There is twice the amount of work involved in a non-iron kit compared to the same sized “traditional” hama bead kit, as the template is double sided and you need to press beads onto both sides to complete the design. At just 5 the geekdaughter is at the minimum age recommended for the kit but she found it easy to get the hang of the kit and the special tool for pressing the beads on with, and once I’d got her started off I could just leave her alone to get on with it. She particularly enjoyed deviating from the supplied pattern and putting colours wherever she fancied them!
Although I seem to have finally got the hang of how to iron the “standard” hama beads to get them to stay together, I must confess that I prefer the ease of use of the non-iron beads, and I would buy them again by preference. Now I just need them to come out with non-iron Maxi beads so the geekson can join in the fun too!
Disclosure: We were provided with three hama bead kits for review purposes. All opinions are my own.