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I love to find activities that keep my kids engaged in something for long periods of time and that doesn’t involve a screen
Two years ago, on a trip to see grandparents in California, we spent a day walking up and down Venice Beach. On a hunt for the perfect souvenir, my boys were enthralled when we came upon with a table filled with Perler Bead creations.
After purchasing a few creations (and taking a bunch of pictures of the booth) I told my boys that we had the supplies to make these ourselves at home. And when we returned home, I pulled out a tub of beads that had been collecting dust in the closet.
We have been creating with Perler beads on and off ever since.
That summer, my boys (and a lot of the neighbors) worked on countless creations day in and day out. There even was an art stand during several summer afternoons. That summer was when Pokemon GO was super popular, so most of the creations were Pokemon inspired.
We are back to creating with Perler Beads again. In fact my coffee table is currently covered with beads as my son and two neighbors were building Perler Bead BeyBlades earlier today and are planning another art stand for next weekend.
Supplies You Need
To get started, all you need is beads, a peg board and some ironing paper. You can buy each item separately, which I recommend if your kids love this activity and you need to replenish supplies, but there are also some great starter kits available that include everything you need to get started.
Over the years we’ve also accumulated a few great accessories that help with the beading. (We’ve also tried a few accessories that didn’t work so great.) These are the ones we love.
At 5 years old, my youngest can now use these beads, but he has only just begun to manipulate them. If you’ve got younger ones, Perler Beads makes larger beads for smaller hands.
Some of the kits come with design ideas and of course you can always create designs from your head. If you are looking for something specific we have had a lot of luck searching google and pinterest.
Planning Your Design
If you are making things like keychains or ornaments, leave one bead space open near the top of your project, this will allow you to add a hanger later on. You can also add small hangers through the center of the bead (as long as it doesn’t get ironed out, see below)
Here’s a Christmas tree ornament my oldest made last week, he left space at the top for us to add a hanger.
Ironing Your Design
In order to complete your project, it must be ironed. Follow the directions on whatever package of beads you choose and be sure to utilize the ironing paper so you don’t have a melty mess on your iron. The key to ironing the designs is to use gentle pressure. Ideally, the beads retain their circle shape once melted and are not squashed into a bunch of squares
Here’s another project from this week, the middle of the candy cane is what the goal is. The bottom of the candy cane has been pressed too hard.
Our latest projects have gone 3D. You can build up layers of your design and use a hot glue gun to glue the layers together. In order to do this, you build each level of your project separately, iron each layer and then glue all the layers together.
Here is my nine year olds BeyBlade (it’s a spinning top), it was constructed by making 6 separate perler bead projects and then glued together afterward.
Have fun! Let me and the boys know what you create!