Reported by Susan Reidy
Photos from http://www.creativityforkids.com/
And here are the fairies down below. The kit actually includes six, but we had already shrunk one before I took the photo. This was one con of the kit for both me and the girls. We wanted more than six fairies. I don’t know what would be the right number, my girls suggested 10 or 12 or 20 (the number kept going up as they played). I think 10 might be right, especially if you have more than one child creating/playing with it.
Here they are hard at work coloring. We loved the Faber-Castell colored pencils. They went on so smoothly, and the colors were so vibrant, even before shrinking. Like all Shrinky Dinks, you color on the rough side of the image. I love that these are precut, which eliminates a tedious step that probably would have been my job.
Here’s one lovely fairy waiting to be shrunk. The images will shrink down to about one-third their original size. You can shrink these lovelies on a covered cookie sheet in the oven or toaster oven (specific directions are included on temperature/time), but I opted to use a heat gun.
I thought my girls would enjoy a more hands-on shrinking process, plus it was faster. They held onto the Shrinky Dink with a paper piercer while I manned the heat tool. I always worry with Shrinky Dinks that they are going to end up a curled mess.
The wings are separate pieces of acetate, which should not be heated because they will melt. We attached them to the rough side of each fairy with the included double-sided foam adhesive. After lots of play, some fairy wings started falling off. My girls worked this into their story line, and fortunately, when they wanted the wings back on, there was enough extra foam adhesive to replace them. Of course, I also have quite a stock of adhesives for future repairs.
The kit also includes these little plastic stands and foam stands, if you want to arrange your fairies in their garden. My girls used these for a little bit, but eventually I was sweeping these off the kitchen floor. Adhesive dots are included to make the stands stick, but my girls wanted to be able to take them on and off (eventually off entirely).
The garden playscape comes in pieces and requires some minor assembly. I took care of this while they were coloring.
A strong adhesive is already on the pieces, which include the backdrop, a pop-out of the tree and a mushroom. Here’s the assembled background, before it was decorated.
I love some of the details of this kit. Here’s the little garden gnome. I colored this guy, and stole him back later for another project, which I have below.
Here’s the sweet little swinging fairy.
Here’s our fairy garden all decked out. We added some flowers with brads, glued a few on, attached a bird and butterfly with the included jump rings and added the self-adhesive gems.
Did I mention they played for hours?
They were having so much fun with the fairy garden, it was several days before I suggested we try out the Recycled Cardboard Zoo. Here’s a photo of the kit again.
After looking this kit over, I decided it would be better for me to assemble the base of the zoo after the kids were in bed. Several months ago, my middle daughter received the Recycled Cardboard Dollhouse for her birthday. I tried to assemble that one while they were hovering, and it was not a pleasant experience for anyone.
But as I got into it, I appreciated their thoroughness and particularly the illustrations.
One note: Carefully open the box as instructed. The box itself is the playmat. Yeah for making creative use of the packaging!
I started with the gate/ticket booth. Easy enough.
The cardboard is a nice weight — not too heavy to make bending and assembly difficult, but sturdy enough to stay together and withstand play.
Next up, I tackled the zoo pen base. This was a little more involved, but still not too tricky.
Adding the back wall was a little trickier. It’s two layers thick once it’s folded, so it’s a little harder to work the tabs into the slots. At first I looked at it and thought this is never going to work. But it did, quite well, actually. The cardboard tabs slipped in and even gave a nice click when they were in place, like what would you expect when assembling something made of plastic. Kudos to the creative minds who engineered this structure.
Stall dividers in place. You don’t want your lions mixing it up with your zebras.
The zoo also includes an aquarium with a base and a piece of blue acyrlic. The acrylic has a nice weight to it, and my girls really liked this feature. They thought it was the coolest. Here’s the zoo all assembled. I’d say it took me about 35 to 40 minutes to assemble it all. I was definitely glad I put it together without them. While it’s straightforward enough that an older child (8 and up) could do it, it can get a little tricky and I’m not sure it would hold their attention. Unless they’re into that; mine aren’t.
The kit includes colorful background papers and floors for each of the animal pens. We glued ours down so the littlest member of our family wouldn’t pull them out.
We put the animals together first — super simple, no directions required. Pop them out of the background and slip legs/ears/tails etc. on the bodies at the precut slits. I love that the animals have velvet splotches. We also added the self-adhesive googly eyes.
Our monkeys hanging on the tree. Along with creativity, I was able to sneak in some learning. As we worked, we talked about the animals and which habitat they belonged in and why.
Here’s our finished zoo. I would love to visit a zoo with a purple, green, blue lawn. The directions include ideas on how to add your own touches, like using a segment of an egg cartoon to make an igloo or a toothpaste cap to hold clay fish for the penguins. We didn’t get that far yet, but our zoo continues to grow and have new additions. This is definitely an ongoing project.
One con, at least from a parent’s perspective, is the size of the finished zoo. It’s rather larger at 30″ x 17.5″ x 15″ and a playmat at 17.64″ x 29.4″, so it takes up a lot of real estate. Right now, the zoo is relegated to the finished basement, alongside my craft area. I kind of wish it could fold up, but once it’s together, it’s together. Of course, for my girls, the size was hardly a con; they like it large.
In case you couldn’t tell, we had lots of fun with these kits. We spent hours creating, and the girls spent hours playing. I was pleased with the high quality of the materials. The zoo and garden are still standing, and haven’t needed any repairs, even after all the playing.
- All inclusive kits so it’s easy to craft.
- Quality materials and coloring media, including Faber-Castell colored pencils and markers.
- Sturdy cardboard and paper that has stood up to hours of play.
- Sparks creativity, imagination and learning — a perfect trifecta.
- Complete, easy-to-follow directions, including how you can add your own details to the zoo.
- Enough materials for multiple children. Adults can steal pieces for their own projects.
- Fairy kit could include more Shrinky Dink fairies.
- Fairy wings kept falling off, but my girls went with it. There was enough extra adhesive for repairs.
- Zoo is straightforward to construct, but takes some time and likely adult supervision. Or the adult can put it together ahead of decorating.
- More expensive of the Creativity for Kids kits, but definitely worth it given the quality and all that is included.
- Zoo is rather large, and doesn’t fold up. A con for parents, put a plus for kids.