We have been working on building a toolbox of independent learning activities that Monkey can work on in the afternoons while I work. We were excited to try Timberdoodle’s Mystery Mosaic book 9. The boys both love tiled color by numbers (as opposed to traditional color by numbers) so much that we print excessive amounts from the internet. I figured the Mystery Mosaic books would be a perfect addition to our afternoon choices. However, the squares on the book are very small, as are the numbers. This overwhelmed the boys and they refused to even try. The book is labeled for 6+, so we assumed it would be fine for our 7 and 9 year olds. I definitely feel these books are more suitable for older students and adults. It would also be difficult for someone who struggles with their vision, as the numbers are very small and rather light.
Even though the boys refused to work on this activity, they did enjoy watching Mama complete her mosaic. Mr. Man kept saying, “Wow, that is SO beautiful!” After seeing me finish mine, which one of the children quickly confiscated, I think I would be able to get them to make an attempt with much coaxing. Though I doubt Monkey would have the patience to stick with the process in order to complete the entire picture. They are very detailed.
I used Faber-Castell pencils to complete my mosaic. You can go take a look at my review on those. For the Mystery Mosaics, I would keep in mind that a lot of shades are used, so your typical box of 12 pencils is not going to work. You will need something with a larger spectrum of shades. I saw that Mindware has a set of pencils, created specifically for their Mosaic books, where the pencils are numbered to match the numbers on the designs. I think this would be quite helpful. The picture I did used 21 different numbers. Keeping track of which pencil was used for each number got a bit tricky.
Overall, Mama enjoyed Mystery Mosaics, but they were too overwhelming for my guys. I would definitely reserve these for older children. Other than the age concern, these books are great! High quality and nicely done.
Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a discounted copy of Mystery Mosaics book 9 in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.
We recently reviewed Artistic Patch Cosmos Foil by Djeco. This craft kit, for ages 6-10, is sold by Timberdoodle and is included in their 2020 First-Grade Curriculum Kit. This Kit would be an excellent addition to your Space themed units. The kit includes 8 sheets of glue patches, 10 foil transfer sheets, and 12 background pages. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of pages that were included with this kit. There are enough to allow several for several crafting sessions.
The boys enjoyed the effect created by the metallic foil. They loved picking out their glue patches and watching the foil bring the design to life. A somewhat softer touch is required to rub and transfer the foil onto the glue patch. This was hard for the boys, who have no idea how to use soft hands. When they went to rub the foil, they often ended up crumpling it. I also noticed they had a hard time placing the foil in a way that would allow them to get the most uses from the pages. This required spatial planning they have yet to master.
Overall, this was a fun project which allowed the boys to practice a variety of skills in a fun and creative way. We would love to get some of the other Artistic Patch Kits by Djeco, as well. Hopefully, Timberdoodle will start carrying a variety of these kits, because they are so much fun!
We had the opportunity to review Timberdoodle’s new product Deep in the Jungle Sticker Mosaic Kit by Djeco. This kit was a lot of fun. The kit comes with 4 Jungle pictures and metallic foam stickers which are added to the pictures to create a sticker by number style work of art. Each boy picked a picture and set to work. The instruction booklet was easy to follow and showed which numbers/colors should be completed first. My only complaint with the kit is that the sticker sheets are not labeled in any way, so you have to guess which sheet is which color/number. Some of the colors are very similar and it was quite tricky. I was concerned that if we used the wrong sheet we would run out of stickers for the other two pictures.
I was pleasantly surprised that this activity caught Mr. Man’s attention ard REALLY kept his focus. He was persistent, despite the fact that this activity is challenging for him due to fine motor weakness. This ended up being a great activity for him! It really had him working on many of the skills he focuses on in OT. He was able to work on fine motor skills, processing/planning skills, and it slowed him down enough to help him work on his difficulties with impulsivity. I would definitely purchase more of these for Mr. Man.
Monkey, on the other hand, surprised me for a different reason. Monkey loves art, but he showed little interest in this activity. In fact, he did one color (with much encouragement) before walking away completely. Monkey usually loves art, but I think this project was a little too structured for him. He enjoys a more free and messy approach when it comes to his creativity. Monkey is also a bit on the outside of the 7-13 recommended age range for this activity, so that may have been part of his disinterest, too. Although, Mama is definitely beyond the age range and I wanted to do my own design!
Overall, the Beans were very impressed with the quality of the Deep in the Jungle Mosaic Kit and would love to see more kits similar to this with a variety of designs. Like I mentioned, my only improvement would be for the sticker sheets to be labeled with their matching number. Other than that, we thoroughly enjoyed this activity and will be proudly displaying Mr. Man’s final product.
The boys and I had the opportunity to review Timberdoodle’s Natural World Workshop by Djeco. My children are always very excited to have the opportunity to paint, so when our box arrived they quickly claimed their pictures. The kit comes with beautiful opaque watercolors, a high-quality brush and four prints to paint. I was very impressed with how vibrant the paint was, not at all washed out like standard watercolored paint. The pictures are on boards that are more like a canvas (though not quite as thick) than the cardstock you would expect. The items were definitely of high quality.
Both children (Kindergarten and Second Grade) were able to follow along using the instruction book and color-coding on the canvases. Occasionally, they would miss part of the painting and have to go back, but this was a minor problem due to their own oversight. I liked how the order of painting started with the lighter colors and moved to the darker. This allowed for two things. One, less color mixing. I don’t know if anyone else has the same issue with watercolors that I do, but the color mixing is awful and pretty much makes the typical watercolors a one-shot use. Secondly, when multiple colors are needed close together, like on the turtle’s back, using the lighter color first allows the second color to cover any out of line mistakes easily. Both children enjoyed this project very much and look forward to completing their second pictures.
My only complaint about this kit would be that the brush needs to be smaller. My boys had a hard time staying inside the shapes because the brush was too large. This is easily fixed by switching the brush out with a smaller brush. Overall, I felt that the kit was very high quality and the final products are definitely something we plan to frame and hang in our home. The boys really enjoyed this project. The Natural World Workshop is currently part of the Timberdoodle 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit.
“It was great. I like it when it is all colored.” Mr. Man, age 7
It’s summer….it’s Arizona…..and this Mama doesn’t do the heat. This is one of the reasons we continue to school throughout the year. Not the most important reason, but one of them. Keeping our schedule as consistent as possible is extremely important in our world. But we make sure to occasionally incorporate fun learning activities that break up the monotony of hibernating in our AC. This summer, our local mall has opened the new Crayola Experience and I have heard many ask about it. So, I decided to take a moment and let everyone know what we thought about it.
In an attempt to avoid the crowds at a brand new indoor attraction, we decided to go check out the Crayola Experience to celebrate Monkey’s birthday on the 4th of July. I was delighted that our plan worked and we were not overwhelmed by large crowds. VERY important in our world.
What is there to do at the Crayola Experience?
When you enter, you are given coins which you can use to get modeling doh or create a personalized label to put on a crayon. The boys enjoyed this activity and Mama found the process of putting the labels on the crayon oddly mesmerizing. The rest of the experience is broken into several stations that the children can move between creating various types of art.
Be a Star: At this station, you can take your photo and design your own personalized coloring pages. We really enjoyed this activity and brought home several pages for the kids to color later. My only complaint is that once you push the ‘take picture’ button, the camera is quite slow in responding. We all know kids don’t sit for that long! It took several attempts to get a good picture. Though, we did bring home some great outtakes, too.
Melt and Mold: Here, the children were each given a crayon and chose a mold to design a ring or racecar crayon. Of course, the boys chose racecars. They would insert their crayon into the machine and watch the crayon melt and fill up the mold. Then, they watched as the crayon was cooled and rehardened. After the activity was complete, they were able to take their racecar with them. The children enjoyed watching the process and I was surprised that they were patient throughout the activity.
Drip Art: Like Melt and Mold, the children are given crayons to put into the melting machine. At this station, the crayons are dripped onto spinning paper, similar to the old paint spinners I remember as a child. The outcome is a unique work of art. There is a lever that allows you to control the speed of the spinning and change the effect of the design.
Silly Selfies: This station is set up with several iPads and allow the children to create silly faces before taking a selfie to add their image to their creation. Monkey especially liked this station (of course he did!) and kept asking for Mama’s email, to send his pictures to me.
Colossal Caddy: This station consists of a giant carousel of crayons with plenty of coloring pages for the young artists to enjoy. A child who enjoys coloring (or one that can sit still) would definitely enjoy spending some time at this station.
Rockin’ Paper: At this station, the children got to color (in our case) a frog. The frog is then punched out and given metal clasps on the feet. The Crayola workers will then place your frog on a special stage, add music and watch your frog dance.
Meltdown: At this station, you can create artwork using melted crayons in special glue gun style pens. The idea at this station seems like a lot of fun, but we found the pens were often running low on crayons (replaced by workers) and the effect was disappointing.
Color Magic: At this station, you color a picture (dragon, unicorn, fairy, etc.) and then scan it into the computers. Your picture is turned into a digital design. You can choose a background for your creation and email it to yourself.
Rainbow Rain: This station was one of the biggest hits. The children stood (or in our case danced) in front of a screen. Their picture was projected in front of them as a rainbow of paint poured down over their heads. The kids spent quite some time enjoying this station.
You Design: This station was another one of our favorites. Here you design a car or create clothing for a fashion model. After scanning your creation, you can see your designs come to life on the giant tv screens in front of you.
Scribble Square: At this station, the world is a chalkboard and your little ones can go graffiti crazy creating their own world. There is also a giant LiteBrite, next to Scribble Square, for the children to get creative with
There is also a snack and dessert shop available if you get hungry. We stopped here to enjoys some brownies (who needs birthday cake?) The last activity we enjoyed was a panning for gold type station. Although, this is an added cost activity. You purchase a bag of sand and pan for different types of rocks. Monkey loves rocks, so for his special day, we went ahead and got the kids some sand. This activity was much faster than expected, but they were happy with the treasures they were able to take home.
Is it educational?
There are definitely some educational aspects to the Crayola Experience. For us, any outing that involves interacting with others, waiting in line and following directions is educational! Obviously, this experience is filled with a great deal of art and creativity. I liked how the children had the opportunity to see how crayons are created at the Melt and Mold station. I also liked how the children had the opportunity to see the different ways they can use their creativity to create something bigger than a simple picture. My husband is currently looking for a graphic designer for a project he is working on, so I loved that my children had the opportunity to see how they can take what they create on paper and bring it to life on the screen in a unique way.
Is it worth the cost?
This is a question that I have been asked a lot! So, here is my honest opinion. For those with super young children, you can probably go through all the stations in about an hour. Older children and those who enjoy spending more time coloring and creating could definitely spend longer there. At $14.99 a person, this seems a bit steep for this Mama. However, since the location is so convenient for us, the annual pass (at $29.99) is quite reasonable. We can stop in for a little break whenever we are in the area. If Mama needs to do something at the mall, there is something the kids can easily look forward to, as well. Plus, with the annual pass, you get 20% off of food shops and the attached Crayola Store….which can easily be a dangerous place!
Take away – If you enjoy coloring and are looking for a cool activity to get out of the house this summer, you should definitely check out the Crayola Experience. Both Mr. Man and Monkey said they enjoyed it a lot and want to go again. I was also pleasantly surprised that Mr. Man handled the lights and sounds very well. We did not have a single issue/meltdown and I do not recall any whining…..success!