Some weeks ago, Crafter's Crate sent me their May sample crate to play with. The girls were very excited. I was thrilled just to get the cardboard box, never mind the goodies within, all beautifully packed.
Crafter's Crate projects are designed for girls in the 5-12-year age group and specifically intended for cooperative involvement by adults. In other words, I couldn't just hand my girls the crate and say, "Go crazy!" while I set about cutting up chicken for dinner. This in turn meant delayed gratification for the girls - they couldn't whizz through all 5 projects in an hour and then, after the adrenaline high, declare themselves bored after. The happy result of this was that our crate, with its 5 projects, lasted the whole month of May.
The five projects in our pink-themed May crate covered a variety of crafting areas - simple jewelry making, candy melting, constructing a toy, knotting and weaving and hand-sewing. They ranged in duration from 5-minutes-quick to several-weeks-take-your-time-to-make-it-beautiful. I divided the projects between my three girls according to their natural skill level, and worked with them one-on one whenever we had time during our day.
She did the threading and I did the twisting.
Then we made a tissue paper parachute,
whose wooden-peg skydiver she painstakingly rainbowed.
All three girls loved tossing it into the stairwell, over and over again. There were suggestions for ways to take this from Toy to Science Experiment (e.g. vary the mass, vary the air resistance, etc.) with other materials in the house, which we must do sometime soon.
The next project was another quick one - melting hard candy in the oven
to make lollies. The kids loved this!
Jenna (she's six and a half) and I worked on a little purse made of fleece and yarn.
The sides were slit and knotted like a no-sew fringed fleece blanket. Jenna hadn't quite mastered knot-tying yet, so Emily (who's eight and a half) and I tied all the knots instead.
Jenna, however, braided the yarn strap all by herself. She was very proud. Apparently, she'd been practising in secret because -look! Awesome.
This is the finished purse - no sewing required!
The last project was a hand-stitched elephant softie. This was Emily's project.
She worked on it in spurts and finished it in time to give it to her teacher on the last day of school. It had button eyes, iron-on patches, running-stitched details and whip-stitching all around. While Emily is familiar with the whip stitch, she needed some reminding to poke the needle consistently into just one side of the fabric sandwich. I eventually marked dots on that one side of the elephant to guide her with her needle direction and spacing and she happily took off on her own. We added a braided tail to our elephant with the leftover black yarn.
Here is Kate solemnly modeling the purse and the softie.
We enjoyed the different challenge levels offered by the projects in this crate. The ample instructions, accompanied by photographs, read like a user-friendly tutorial and are easy for older kids to follow along on their own. Adult involvement is encouraged and, in some projects, necessary - for instance, operating the oven to melt the candy. Suggestions are provided for extending the projects and learning something new.
We enjoyed our delightful box of goodies that was, as their tagline indicated, handmade with love. It felt exactly like that. The projects were selected by a committee of mothers, crafters and a child developmental specialist, then tested by a group of parents and children. The materials in the crate were of good quality and beautifully packaged. We supplied some of our own crafty bits and bobs (scissors, pins, markers, oven, etc. - things that can be found in most households) but otherwise, everything we needed came in the box. The instructions -printed on individual cards within each project packet - were detailed and accompanied by color photographs. We love that the projects were not all of the whip-up variety - we liked both the instant gratification of the fast ones as well as the feeling of accomplishment upon completing a project that took time. Thank you, Crafter's Crate, for letting us enjoy these projects together!
Read more about Crafter's Crate on their website and see crates from the previous months here. Crates can be purchased by subscription - anything from a single month (cancel anytime if you just want a single crate for a gift) to six months and more. The company is also currently developing a few of their most popular projects into stand-alone purchases and party packs.
And here's a promotion for my readers- get 50% off your first crate with this code: "IKATB", valid till 1st August 2013. Enjoy!