Hello all! Last month, I had the privilege of receiving a book box from Kinderhands to try out with Anya.
Eh.. what box are we talking about here?
Well, Kinderhands is a new online establishment that promotes creativity, learning and play for children aged 3-7 through thematic craft projects that are sent to your doorsteps in a box. Each project box has 2-3 projects, all of the same theme, that are curated, prepped and packed nicely together by the folks of Kinderhands. On top of that, one may opt for a book box which is really the same as the project box, except that there will also be a storybook of the same theme. One has the flexibility of purchasing a one-time off box or a monthly subscription making crafting sessions a regular activity with your little ones!
Pretty cool idea, I thought!
Now, how did we fare with the box?
The theme of the box that we received was 'Stars'. Execution-wise, it all went quite well lest for a couple of hiccups.
We started off with the book, "How to catch a star" by Oliver Jeffers. The storyline was charming, the illustrations were beautiful and the ending was brilliant! Anya was so immersed in the book that as we went along the pages, she suddenly stood up and proceeded to stretch her arms and jumped as high as she could, asking "Mommy, is this high enough to catch a star?". It was a promising start to our own book box as Anya got so hyped up by the story and was looking forward to do the craft projects.
The first project we did was named "Starry night on Canvas". Each project has been packed neatly with a large ziplock bag and comes with an instruction card. On the instruction card are (a) a checklist of materials that are already provided for; b) a checklist of items that I will need to gather myself (which are only a couple and are items that are easily found in our homes e.g. Old newspapers); (c) clear and easy-to-understand step-by-step pictorial instructions; & (d) additional remarks that parents / guardians will find useful in order to aid the child in completing the project. I read through the instruction card together with Anya, then with a fair bit of excitement in the air, we proceeded to get down and dirty onto the project.
Anya was able to follow through the instructions very well for this project, managing through 80% of it on her own. I had to intervene for the last 20% which predominantly involved putting on the alphabetical stickers onto the canvas and then painting over it. As it turned out, the alphabet stickers could not stick very well and came off easily. Hence, painting over that part became extra delicate and certainly would not be well-executed by a 3.5 year-old. This, I have feed-backed to the nice folks of Kinderhands, and they promptly replied that they would source for better stickers. Other than that, I noted that all the other materials are all good quality, safe and non-toxic.
The second project, "My Star Board Game", was a bit trickier for Anya. I suppose it was because she has yet been exposed to any board games and hence, had a difficult time comprehending the end objective of this project. With that, came a certain lack of exuberance. For the board game to be functional, we are to mold our own dice and game pieces using the clay provided for. On top of that, the child was to decorate the board with her coloring, drawings etc.
Upon realizing that the clay works similarly to her favourite homemade play dough, Anya requested to do that part of the project first. Unfortunately, her patience soon wore off as her 3.5 year-old hands are not as nimble yet to produce the same end product that she saw on the instruction card. Sensing that I was losing my audience quickly, I encouraged her to decorate the board itself. To my relief, she perked up significantly. Armed with her color pencils, crayons and the leftover star stickers from the last project, she happily got down to it while I work alongside her on the clay.
Two days after we completed the board game project, I tried getting Anya in playing with me. Not very successful, admittedly. Once more, I attribute this to her age. Never mind, I'll try getting her interested again in a couple of months' time.
How does the lil' missy feel about the book box?
Overall, she enjoys it. While the final project had its hits and misses; she could finish up the project with some help from me. No complaints there. :) And she definitely had loads of fun going through the book and doing the first project. Following through an engaging story, peeling and putting on stickers, painting, molding and coloring - these are all the activities that she especially likes at this age. The sense of achievement that she had was written all over her face when I placed the finished canvas on a chest of drawers as display. She was chuffed when her father seemed suitably impressed by her work of art.
Lastly, how does Mommy feel about the book box?
For this mommy who aspires to do craft work or hands-on projects with my kiddos but not sure of how or where to begin most of the times; this is a worthwhile investment!
In the past, I've tried sourcing for craftwork to do with Anya. When Anya was an only child, i had plenty of time to trawl through the Internet, finding that one suitable project. But when i find one that I like, there is always the issue of availability of materials. Some of the required materials are not necessarily available in our regular Popular bookstore nor heartland malls. Or if they do, there will inevitably be a matter of wastage where you find yourself only needing a fraction of an entire packet of whatever material that you paid for. All these challenges and that was I have two kiddos and soon, three. These days, I hardly even have time for myself. Much as I still adore spending quality time with my children doing craftwork and projects, the thought of requiring to spend hours finding a suitable project and then sourcing for the materials on my own already killed my enthusiasm. Therefore, this new concept is like a dream come true and packed into a box for me.
Plus the projects that were curated by the folks of Kinderhands all look exciting, fun, meaningful and educational. After completing our 'Stars' box, I showed Anya the other theme boxes available on Kinderhands' website. After oohing and aahing for a bit, she pointed at the Monsters box and asked, "Mommy, can I do this?". Yep, I think we just had our craft activities lined up for the coming month.
Personally, I favour the idea of tying in a book to a few projects of the same theme together. I feel that with a storyline, it is more meaningful and memorable for the child this way and whatever that their little spongy brains absorbed has a much more lasting effect. I also liked that a lot of thought and effort were put in to prepare the instruction cards. As mentioned earlier on, I have done a handful of craft projects that I sourced on my own with Anya in the past. More often than not, both she and I met with frustrations while executing the projects mainly due to communication breakdowns in letting her comprehend what she needs to do. Here, from what I read to her and the step-by-step picture guide; she could understand fairly well what she was expected to do. Oh, plus bonus points added for training the child to be task-oriented and goal-oriented through competing the projects.
No doubt that there were some misses executing the second project. But as I mentioned earlier on, I believe Anya's lack of interest was due to her young age. After all, these boxes were curated with children aged 3-7 in mind - Anya, being 3.5 years old falls in the lower age group of their target audience.
All in all, I find that I really like the concept of the book box. I am a strong advocate that young children should learn through fun and to me, this is what all these creative boxes are all about. Learning in disguise as fun. Oh, and good old bonding time with Mom and Dad!