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Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY — Creativity for Kids, Shrinky Dink Fairy Garden and Recycled Cardboard Zoo

Reported by Susan Reidy

Like most kids, the attention spans of my 8- and 5-year-old daughters varies, to put it politely. They have lots of energy and tend to flit from one activity to the next.

Recently, we tried out some crafts that kept their attention for 8+ hours and counting. Seriously. Introducing the kid-attention-keepers, otherwise known as Creativity for Kids project kits — Shrinky Dinks Fairy Garden and Recycled Cardboard Zoo.

These are two of the new, larger kits offered in Faber-Castell’s Creativity for Kids line of kits. There are tons of kits available, from small to large, for boys and girls, in themes ranging from make your own lip balm to monster trucks custom shop.

Because we’re all about fairies in this house, that’s the kit we started with.
They LOVED everything about this kit — coloring the Shrinky Dinks, helping me shrink them (they even mastered the heat tool, with my supervision of course), decorating the garden and ultimately, playing with their creations. It took us about two hours to get everything just so with the coloring/decorating, and then they played.

Quietly. Together. For hours.

I heard stories like, “We once were big, but then the evil person shrunk us (I guess that was me),” and they took pictures as they rearranged the garden and fairies. Here’s their fairy parade. Notice dinner in the background.

The kit had everything we needed to complete the garden, which made it super simple for us to make on an afternoon after school. It includes 50+ precut (yeah!) Shrinky Dinks, plastic and foam stands for the fairies and other creatures, fairy wings, the playscape, Faber-Castell colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, foam adhesive, adhesive dots, glitter glue, a fiber for hanging the swinging fairy, jump rings to attach creatures to the tree and brads. The kit has a MRSP of $19.99.

Here are all the Shrinky Dink creatures — squirrel, rabbit, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, birds, a gnome — along with flowers, leaves and a bird nest.

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.

This kit is plenty big enough in terms of supplies and actual play area for more than one child. My girls split up the Shrinky Dinks and took turns with the included colored pencils, although I did supplement with some Crayola colored pencils, just for more variety. There was even enough Shrinky Dinks for me to steal some for my projects.

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.

I can proudly say we didn’t lose one Shrinky Dink due to poor shrinking. The key is to just keep heating, even when they curl, because eventually they will straighten out all on their own. We did put a hot plate on top briefly after heating so they would flatten out completely. We did have a few that curled and stuck, but I just took away the heat and gently pulled the stuck pieces apart, then started heating again.


Here she is one-third her original size.


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?

So when I saw that little gnome, I knew he would be a cute embellishment to a spring-themed layout. I also stole quite a few flowers, and have other plans for them. I loved coloring these almost as much as my girls; it was just very relaxing.


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.

This is a larger kit and has lots and lots of pieces including a play area with zoo pens, an entrance gate and monkey tree; a playmat; 11 velvet flocked animals; color-in punchouts and stickers; background papers; Faber-Castell dual tip markers; aquarium plastic; glitter stickers; glue stick; self-adhesive google eyes; a cardboard fence and rope; foam adhesive and directions. It has a MRSP of $29.99.

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.

The directions scared me at first; there were just so many.

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!

This zoo has a lot of pieces.


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.

Next up was some coloring of the punchout, stickers and of course, playmat. Like the colored pencils in the fairy kit, my girls and I were very happy with the quality of these markers. They withstood all the coloring for the kit, and still have ink left for other projects.

Here’s Mr. Giraffe. Again, I was pleasantly surprised at the heft of the animals and that they were able to stand up without much effort. My older daughter accidently sat on the kangaroo and while the pieces came apart, they weren’t damaged.


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.

There were plenty of materials for both my girls to share. We had fun crafting together, and they even learned a thing or two. What more can you ask for?

Pros:
  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

GIVEAWAY

The folks over at Creativity for Kids are giving away kits to two lucky readers. To enter simply answer any of the questions below in the Comments section of this article on our website. One comment per person, please.



Have you tried out the Creativity for Kids kits? Which ones do you like the best?

Winners are chosen at random. Contest closes Sunday, June 12th at 6pm CST. Good Luck!

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

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26 Responses to Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY — Creativity for Kids, Shrinky Dink Fairy Garden and Recycled Cardboard Zoo

  1. Avatar
    Amanda June 10, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    I have never tried out the creativity for kids kits, but they sure look like fun!

  2. Avatar
    Melanie June 10, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    I haven’t tried any yet … but boy I am this summer! (I have three boys). I want the zoo one for them … but I think I might take the fairy one for ME!

  3. Avatar
    {VICKI} June 10, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Haven’t tried these kits.
    Shrinky dinks were a fave of mine when I was little—didn’t know they were still sold today.

  4. Avatar
    Sue D June 10, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Looks like a lot of fun. I have given Creativity for Kids kits as gifts.

  5. Avatar
    jjocarlson June 10, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    I have not tried the creativity kits but I really want to! But I plan on trying them this summer!

  6. Avatar
    ellen lord June 10, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    ive never tried Creativity for Kids kits, but these look like just the ticket to keep my nieces busy while i have them during summer vacation!!!!!!!!

  7. Avatar
    Isabel Z June 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    We haven’t tried any of these kits but I have to get some to keep us entertained these next few months while school is out.

  8. Avatar
    Arlene June 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    We have not tried these particular kits,but they do look like fun!

  9. Avatar
    Cindy deRosier June 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Fun! I’d love to win these!

  10. Avatar
    LisaAnn June 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Have not tried their kits but would love to try most of them!

    lhy5@yahoo.com

  11. Avatar
    rush June 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    i haven’t tried any of these. this one in particular would be great for my youngest granddaughter and her mom.

  12. Avatar
    Barb June 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    I have never tried these kits, but I am sure they would be a big hit with my grandchildren. Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. Avatar
    Rebecca Ednie June 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Most of these kits have been way to advanced for my slightly immature 4 year old. But he’d love to play with the zoo! What a great kit!

  14. Avatar
    luluvision June 10, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I haven’t tried any of their kits but I sure would love too! I mean, my 4 year old daughter would love to! It looks like it would keep her busy for quite awhile so that is always a plus!!

  15. Avatar
    Kellie Conklin June 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    I have tried the Creativity for Kids Kits many times! I love the playful pets nesting dolls kit and the fairy shrinky dinks look like they would be a ton of fun! THanks!
    Kconklin1028@gmail.com

  16. Avatar
    isabel scrap June 11, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    This is fantastic, love all the kits

  17. Avatar
    Ann June 11, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Haven’t tried these kits, but my nephew would LOVE the zoo!

  18. Avatar
    Vitoria B June 11, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    I haven’t tried these kits yet, but sure soon i’m gonna buy some for my kids.
    Thanks for the chance.

  19. Avatar
    Iris June 11, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I have not tried any of these kits yet but I love both the Shrinky Dinks Fairy Garden and the Recycled Cardboard Zoo.Those little fairies are almost too cute to share! Iris

    isoscia at aol dot com

  20. Avatar
    Superfan June 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I have done many Shrinky Dinks projects with my kids in the past; but I really like how extra items are included in the kits, which will make playtime more fun.

  21. Avatar
    Callie Callender June 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    I have never used this brand, but I love shrinky dinks and the fairy princesses are adorable!

  22. Avatar
    nopinkhere June 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    The zoo sounds cool, but where would we put it?!?!?! The wind up robot kit we tried were really fun!

  23. Avatar
    Lori June 11, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    We’ve yet to try these, but my daughter would love just about all of them.
    lkziegler[at]gmail[dot]com

  24. Avatar
    Paulo Marques June 12, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Love princesses and construction. Perfect for all the kids.

  25. Avatar
    Tanka June 14, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    I have never tried out the creativity for kids kits. The ZOO looks amazing!! I peeped in your site, I definitely want everything 8)

  26. Avatar
    Herb February 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    I have never tried any of the creativity for kids kits. This is my first time to your website. Very cool site! Lots of ideas for scouting. I can see getting my daughter the Fairy Garden set for her birthday. keep up the good – and creative – work.