Have your kids caught on to the Rainbow Loom craze? It seems that kids everywhere are making and swapping their Rainbow Loom creations, while parents everywhere lament the explosion of tiny rubber bands that’s overtaken their homes! But Rainbow Loom may have more benefits for kids than the average toy.
If you’re not familiar with it, Rainbow Loom is a craft that has soared in popularity over the last few months. Consisting of a plastic loom with pegs and small, colorful rubber bands, kids use Rainbow Loom to create woven bracelets, rings, and key chains. Many kids watch Youtube tutorials to learn increasingly complex patterns, and swap ideas and bracelets with friends.
If your kids are obsessed with Rainbow Loom, don’t despair: they’re practicing some really important skills by making all those bracelets. And if your kids haven’t used Rainbow Loom yet, you might want to give it a try after learning why this little craft kit is actually pretty beneficial to their development!
Pattern and Shape Recognition
The ability to recognize and predict patterns is an important mathematical and critical thinking skill. In math, recognizing patterns lets us predict what number comes next in a sequence, or recognize linear and nonlinear functions on a graph. Number patterns, too, are the basis of famous mathematical concepts like Pascal’s Triangle and the Fibonacci Sequence.
But recognizing patterns is important in other areas too, not just math. Analysts use patterns to predict changes in the economy, doctors look for patterns in a patient’s medical history, and artists and musicians look for and use patterns in their creations.
According to one Psychology Today article, humans are by nature pattern-recognizing and pattern-forming creatures and the drive to recognize and form patterns can be a spur to curiosity, discovery and experimentation throughout life.
When kids make these bracelets, they’re doing more than making a colorful accessory- they’re recognizing and creating patterns with shapes and colors, practicing cognitive skills that will benefit them when Rainbow Loom bracelets have fallen by the wayside like Pogs, slap bracelets, and other playground trends of yore.
Plus, Rainbow Loom vocabulary is full of phrases like triple hexagon and single rhombus. Children who use these kits are already becoming familiar with shapes that they’ll encounter later in geometry.
Fine Motor Skills
Have you seen the rubber bands kids use to make these bracelets? They’re tiny! Hooking, looping, and knotting those little bands on the pegs of the loom, whether with fingers or with the included hook requires a ton of manual dexterity and coordination. In fact, on one product page, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist is quoted as saying that she uses the loom with kids she works with because it “combines visual perceptual, problem solving/cognitive skills, finger dexterity, bilateral skills, hand strengthening, frustration tolerance and hand coordination.” That’s a lot of developmental benefits in making one little bracelet!
Patience and Persistence
As the OT quoted above points out, using Rainbow Loom can help kids learn frustration tolerance. It takes a while to make a bracelet, and mistakes happen. With crafts like this, kids are learning to stick with it. Blogger teachmama wrote that her daughter had to start and restart one complex pattern eleven times before mastering it! But when kids stick with something that’s hard, they learn patience, and when they finish, they get the satisfaction and confidence that comes with being persistent and making something with their own hands.
Reading and Following Instructions
When kids follow instructions included with the loom or online, they’re practicing reading informational texts, which as teachmama points out, is an important skill. In fact, the ability to read for understanding and follow a written series of steps is vital not just in school, but in life. Even when kids watch Youtube tutorials, they’re still practicing following instructions and taking the initiative to learn something on their own. For kids who make their own Youtube tutorials (and many of the popular videos are kid-made) they’re learning to clearly convey instructions and teach others a skill!
We hear a lot these days about how video games, the internet, and television zap kids’ (and adults) attention spans. One statistic puts the average attention span at just 8 seconds. So when kids are spending hours on end making rubber bracelets, that certainly gives hope that they can focus on a task that interests them. It’s just a matter of engaging them in it.
Many kids swap bracelets with each other, much like the woven friendship bracelets of our childhoods. They may hang out making bracelets together, or teach each other new patterns and designs. For many kids, making Rainbow Loom bracelets is as much a social activity as it is a creative one.
Do your kids use Rainbow Loom? Do you think it’s been beneficial for them? Let us know your thoughts about this popular craft in the comments!