I think it’s happened to all of us. Our kids get a new toy, open it, play with it…and are done five minutes later. If they’re really little, they may spend more time playing with the box. The one thing most of those kinds of toys have in common? They just sort of…sit there. They don’t nudge kids’ imaginations or spark their creativity.
So I’m a huge fan of open ended gifts. Presents that can be used to build or make things. Presents that leave room for the kids to try their own ideas. And presents where the process of making things is as much fun as the result.
We got to try two Cool Brands kits that do this — the Text Cool™ Bracelet Studio and the Knit’s Cool™ Knitting Studio.
The bracelet making kit just happened to arrive on a day when Alexis (my 10-year old daughter) had a friend over. So…perfect timing. The girls spent part of the afternoon making bracelets — some for themselves, some for each other. Actually, that was one of my favorite things about this kit — it allowed the girls to collaborate and they both used it together, rather than one of them sitting around while the other one made a bracelet.
It was pretty easy to use, as well. You slide the bracelet through the feeder on the side, choose the letters or emojis you want to emboss on your bracelet, and punch them in. If you know what you’re going to say, it can take less than a minute to make a bracelet. The kit also comes with clips that snap the bracelet in place on your wrist.
I think the girls were just the right age, too. Younger girls might have fun using this, as long as they have help setting up the studio, and possibly pushing the embossing button down — it was a little tricky. But the ten year olds had no problem setting up the machine themselves and figuring out how it worked. I’m thinking it could be fun to bring it along to a Girl Scout meeting sometime, have the girls come up with a troop slogan or quote, and have each of them make themselves a bracelet. Yes. Totally doing that.
And — oh! The Knit’s Cool™ Knitting Studio. I’m a knitter, so this kit was dear to my heart. I’ve been trying to teach my daughter to knit for several years, but she has trouble managing the needles, and she quickly gets frustrated and gives up. So this looked like the perfect solution — the needles are held in place, and all you do is move the yarn from one side to the other, pulling it through loops with a crochet hook.
It actually teaches both knitting and crochet skills, I think.
I would definitely encourage you to watch the instructional videos before starting a project. It took me a while to figure out how to set up the yarn for knitting, just by following the paper instructions. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I’d just watched the videos in the first place. But once I got everything set up, Alexis had an easy time actually knitting up a headband. I think if I walk her through the setup next time, she’ll be able to do it herself. The kit also comes with several kinds of yarn and instructions for three projects (there are more project instructions on the Knit’s Cool website, too).
And — thank goodness — there’s a row marker. I’m always losing track of where I am on a project, so having a row marker right on the kit means she can leave her project to finish later and not forget where she left off. It also includes decorative buttons you can fasten on your finished scarf or headband.
So there you have it — two kits that help kids use their imaginations and creativity…and help them make projects they’ll actually wear when they’re finished.
What are your favorite presents for helping kids be creative?
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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