I have two girls who looooooove crafts and art. They will paint, draw, cut, glue, assemble…and make messes to their hearts’ content. I, however, am not a fan of the mess nor the time it takes sometimes for me to be involved. I am steering them toward independence as much as is possible, while still keeping things safe for them, since they are young.
Enter Zirrly. This is a company that makes all sorts of cool crafting stuff for kids. The Homeschool Review Crew have been reviewing the Super Beads, which are beads you fuse together after making a design. You might be familiar with another brand that requires an iron. These are similar but they fuse together with just a bit of water! We chose the Mega Pack of Super Beads. The jungle animals would have been our next choice, and the 3D sets look tempting as well.
This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂
Our set included over 4500 beads, 20 design templates, 4 plastic template boards, plus 2 spray bottles and a removal tool. The large bag of beads contains red, pink, white, green, yellow, blue, and brown. We also received two tiny bags of orange and black (which didn’t go that far).
I tried to let my toddler work on one but he made a huge mess and I vetoed him using them. You have to be intentional about putting the beads in place and toddlers don’t really have that dexterity yet. There is a little line around one end of each bead and you’re supposed to put that end up, and toddlers aren’t discerning about such things, and quite honestly, neither are four-year olds. My six-year old insisted on doing it the right way. I didn’t see a difference in the finished products, though.
I admit I was a little confused at first about how to put the template in the design board. If anyone else is confused, line up the cutouts on the template with these little things on the back of the board, like this:
If you don’t, or if your child picks the thing up or scoots it around too much while working on a project, it might end up getting off kilter:
The process is pretty straightforward. Use the template as a guide to placing the beads, then remove the template and use one of the spray bottles to mist the entire project. It’s a little hard at first to know how much water to use, but after a couple projects, you get the feel for it. You don’t want it saturated but it needs to be wet enough to fuse the beads together.
Once the beads are dry (they recommend at least 60 minutes or until the project is no longer tacky to the touch), you can bend and play with the finished product. If they do come apart, adding a little water and letting it sit again to meld together will fix it right back up.
A drawback to them being flexible is that when you remove them from the design board, they tend to get a little bent, which makes it hard for the ones that stand up to do that.
We did get that cute elephant to stand after some finagling. The 3D sets would probably be really neat!
No Heat Required
That means no iron, like other beads you may have used before, no hot glue, no heat tool of any kind. Just water! Since my kids are still little, I stay away from projects that require heat since they can’t do it themselves and usually I don’t have a lot of time for getting stuff like that set up and put back away (cooling off period after we are done, etc.). I was very happy to see that these beads only need a bit of water. It takes less than half a spray bottle to do each one, and I probably overspray for good measure. Although, they do caution you not to flood it, as this is what can happen (pic below). You just pull off the little pieces, though. Not a big deal to me.
Tons of Designs
The Zirrly site has a lot of options to choose from! I will mention, I thought the mega set would come with 20 different design templates, but we received 4 different designs with 5 templates each. No problem, we freestyled it! The rainbow in the previous picture is also a freestyle my six-year old did.
One word of caution: Do not let anyone put these in their mouth. We have a crawling infant who grabbed a finished one and started mouthing it, and I freaked out. Not only do the beads and broken off sections pose a choking hazard, the way these are held together seems to be with some kind of glue or similar (it smells like glue when you open the package of beads). I can’t imagine it’s good to ingest, and the instructions do say to wash your hands after handling. It gets sticky when wet, and I was having nightmares about her swallowing one and what kind of damage it might do. The wet one got all sorts of stuff stuck to it also (this happened after our vacuum broke and I was waiting for the new one) so it had to get trashed. The baby is fine, but I was a bit worried after I realized she had gotten ahold of one. Watch your kids like a hawk with these if you have babies in the home!
Just FYI, if you make something that has a bead only held to one other bead, it can break off pretty easily, especially if it’s an area on the project that sticks out and is not protected by other sections. Some of the larger areas held to the main area by a thin section of beads can pop off more easily also. Either way, it’s an easy fix. But if you’re making your own design, I suggest trying to make sure every bead is touching at least two others.
PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….
Zirrly Super Beads are a fun project for kids who are learning to do arts and crafts independently. They can use a design template or make up their own, so they can be as creative as they’re in the mood for. They have ASTM certification so they are non-toxic but of course, I still recommend taking precautions such as washing up afterward (as the company suggests) and keeping them away from babies or toddlers still prone to putting things in their mouths. I do wish we had gotten more colors in the package and a more varied selection of designs, but overall, we were happy with this product!