For awhile at my house, “Silly Bandz” were all the rage- they were worn, traded, lost, argued over, and even used as bribes (ok, that was me.) So imagine how the idea of making your OWN DESIGNS in stretchy bracelets sounded to my kids? Yup, they went ga-ga over it! And last weekend, when it was particularly rainy, I broke open the kit and let them go wild.
I received the kit as a sample at CHA Winter, which included one design board, a set of pegs, three templates, instructions, and a huge selection of bands. (Ok, according to the website, that was 24.)
The bands that were included in the kit came in small, medium, and large- but they weren’t separated into groups. Not from the templates that you need a particular size to complete the design. While it would have been nice to have them separated for us, we used it as a “teachable moment” with my 6-year-old and had her sort them out before we got started.
My 10-year-old dove right in, setting the pegs into the template.Â ( For you over-35 readers out there, this reminded me of setting the pegs into my Lite-Brite back in the day!)
One thing we noted after we made the first one- if you put it on the pegs and the band looks “twisted” (the band is actually square, like a rubber band is) then when it heat-sets, it will continue to look twisted. So if you like it to look smooth, then take a few minutes to straighten out the band on the pegs. Conversely, you can make segments look “twisted” as a design element.
We also found out- the hard way- what happens if you use the wrong size band. Here, my daughter put a small band on a design that called for medium:
Fortunately, there is a FAQ page on the website that will guide you through any problems you might have.
Since the pack only comes with 3 pattern templates, my son got creative and tried his own design- a sword:
My son was really thrilled with both the kit and how his creations turned out. My Kindergarten-aged daughter had some difficulty, mostly with setting the pegs, which requires a bit of fine-motor coordination, hand strength, and frustration tolerance. I found that if I helped her with some gentle coaching, she also felt fairly successful- to the point that she set about making a set to give as a birthday gift.
What I like about this kit is that it really is open-ended- you can create just about anything you want with the pegs. You get a nice supply of pegs and bands for the price ($9.99 USD.) You can also order refills of the bands for only five bucks, and if you need a class or party pack, you can get that, too. (What a fun slumber or birthday party craft!)
So, one of the coolest aspects of Shapelets is on theÂ website. There is a tab on the main page called “Create” which brings up a screen that looks like the pegboard. Kids can try out their designs and then print them out to use as templates. That’s just brilliant! Although, I do need to note that when I tried to use it, the program froze up my computer and I needed to force it to quit- but that might just be my compter/connection.
Now, one suggestion: they should offer a refill of pegs…because I can see these little suckers getting lost & sucked up in the vacuum sweeper!
On the whole, though, it’s a pretty ingenious little kit- and as long as these bands stay popular, it’s a winner for the 7-13 year crowd.
Disclosure: sample provided for review purposes.
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