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Pros and Cons of the Rainbow Loom

The whole world is caught up in rubber band madness. Not a day goes by where I don’t see a child wearing/making/talking about rainbow looms. Of course, me and Bea bought a simple set to try it out and I have to admit, it does bring back memories of the the days when we made friendship bands in class and we were so crazy about it that we use to do it under the table while the teacher was talking. Some of  my friends were so adept that it, that they could weave it just by touch alone (meaning, their heads are up, looking at the teacher, while their hands are busy busy busy under the table – talk about multitasking! ). Brings a smile to remember those days!

I think  the Rainbow Loom is great art and craft for any child to do. It’s great because:

 

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1. Fosters independence and processing informational text

We got a simple pack  which comes with the little fork piece. The instructions for the fishtail design weren’t too clear so we looked for a YouTube Video which showed how it was done. Daddy experimented – they watched it together and then he showed her the first step and Bea took over from her. I think there was this “aha” ping that went off that she could actually master something on her own by observation and practice.  We were actually surprised that she managed to do the first one without any mistake.

She has also learnt some terms that come with the instructions, and it does take some patience to understand what the instructions are. I try to leave her to her own  when it comes to this – since it is something she really wants to do, its a good chance cultivate some independent learning and  persistence.

Now, she is improvising – she’s seen how some designs can be done by sticking 2 forks together so she has taken the initiative  to do the 1st step.

Rainbow Loom Improvised Fork

Rainbow Loom Fork

2. Forsters social skills

Exchanging bands, making bands for each other, talking about how to do certain designs – these are social skills that are great for kids to have. For some kids, it might not come naturally, so having a common interest helps a lot in getting the conversation going.   Have a rainbow loom gathering for the kids. It will be a pleasant change from kids being immerse in IPads on their play dates. I love the fact that it’s gender neutral – I have seen how boys are also into making bands (with macho colours of course!) and really enjoy making them. The other day, I commented that the flea market would be really hot and the sweet girl a band just for me to tie up my hair – asking me for my colour preference. 🙂

 

3. Fosters Concentration

The size of the bracelet is actually quite ideal for the attention span of children. It’s not going to be done in a minute but you won’t take 1 hour either to make one. I am not sure whether to believe a study that said the average attention span currently stands at 8 seconds (1 second less than a goldfish – that’s what electronic gadgets are doing to us!) but in any case, to have a child focus on something that doesn’t make any noise or requires button pressing  for a good 15 to 20 minutes is a good thing.

 

4. Fosters Pattern recognition

Learning new designs requires the child to understand the steps involved in making a pattern. As any educator will tell you, having pattern recognition skills go hand in hand with mathematical prowess and intelligence building. When you play tick, tack toe or chess, it is a actually a game of strategy and pattern. Problem solving needs attention of patterns or sometimes the ability to spot what is not in sequence. Either way, making a bracelet requires both. When a bracelet doesn’t look quite right, I have observed how she looks carefully at each segment and when she detects the anomaly, there is no hesitation in undoing the whole bracelet and correcting the sequence.

I spotted some semblance of the Fibonacci pattern*  in the Starburst design. There are other patterns that rely on the use of Pascal’s Triangle as well.

Starburst Design

Starburst Design

* The Fibonacci pattern is a complex mathematical of a pattern of integer numbers. It can be found throughout nature.

Fibonacci retracement is  is said to be popular among technical traders as a means of analysis. Not that I am saying that if the kid is great at making loom bracelets, she is has the potential to be the next George Soros!

While it’s great that all this braclet making is laying the foundations for high level trading, there are some dangers we should be aware of:

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1. Runaway addiction

Like all great toys, there is always the danger of going overboard with it. We try to space out bracelet making. It doesn’t have to be everyday and all the time. When the bands run out, take some time to replace them (unless you yourself am addicted to it! 🙂 ).

Life goes one with other games too. Loom all the time, and you might end up a bit cross eyed and loony from fitting in all those bands!

2. Health danger

As a habit, we always remove all accessories from Bea from she is sleeping. Loom bracelets are no different. Loom rings can cause a restriction in blood flow if  it constricts the fingers. Now, we wouldn’t want to write off any future as a  nine fingered surgeon would we?

Loom Ring

Loom Ring

There have been cases reported in the United Kingdom where a boy had a bracelet on too tightly around his arm while sleeping and by the mother found out, the arm had turned blue.  Another boy was temporary blinded when the band shot off from his brother’s loom. He is now waiting for surgery.

In my own experience, there are some actions that you don’t even understand why they would do it. Just yesterday, I caught her with 2 bands on her wrist while playing the violin. I am guessing that it was just a few minutes that it had been put on, but as you can see, there is already a mark on the skin. When I asked her the reason, she shrug her shoulders – “Don’t know…”. So kids do the darnedest thing and sometimes, it’s not good!

Constricted wrist!

Constricted wrist!

Red lines just after a few minutes!

Red lines just after a few minutes!

3. Pet danger

Anything small, chewy and stretchy is a danger to pets. Trust me on this. I’ve had the privilege of a week of hand wringing and self recriminations when my rabbit chewed up a piece of silvery purple ribbon. After a few days of poop forensics, I was never so happy to see glitter in poop.  Ribbons don’t show up on x-rays, neither do bands!

Veterinarians in the US have treated dogs and cats with severe vomiting or diarrhea from eating bands. Intestinal blockages from bands can be fatal without surgery.

Similarly, if you have babies around, you should not be leaving your bands around too – it’s a perfect combination of being colourful and chewy .

Small and dangerous to pets!

Small and dangerous to pets!

4. Environmental danger

Just like plastic bags, band can pose a danger to wildlife. Don’t leave or throw your bands indiscriminately. The physical quality  of the bands make it easy for birds, fish to ingest them or even get their beaks or mouth entangled in them.

 

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