There has been a lot of chatter online about something called a Toucan Box.
If you’re even an occasional reader of this blog, you’ll know that crafting is not really my thing. My only (slightly tongue in cheek) attempt to post something creative on here involved a lego man and a champagne cork. It wasn’t pretty.
But I’d like to change that. It’s the one area of parenting where I feel I let DorkySon down slightly. He has unlimited access to paper, crayons and pens at home, but we rarely do anything more exciting than that, especially since he has started nursery. I have handed all responsibility for his craft activities to them. At home, his glitter glue is going crusty in the tube, and his paint box hasn’t been opened in weeks.
So when I started to read more about the Toucan Box, I actually got quite excited. It’s a monthly subscription box that is delivered to your house, containing all the materials you need to do a range of craft activities on a certain theme. When I was offered the opportunity to test a Toucan Box, I couldn’t resist.
Our first impressions were very good; the postman delivered a large carboard box, designed like a briefcase, which was personalised with DorkySon’s name on the outside. It was really well packaged inside, and bursting with craft materials.
I suspect a box is supposed to last you a month – one activity a week on a rainy afternoon. But DorkySon being who he is, we had to sit down and do all four of them at once. Our activities were all based around the theme of Birds.
We decided to attempt the bird feeder first. This involved all sorts of fiddliness with glue and lollipop sticks. It took a couple of times of reading the instructions for me to work out how to build up the walls (although I suspect that says more about me than about the complexity of the task…). It was quite a tricky job for a three year old, but with plenty of assistance DorkySon got quite engrossed by it. He was thrilled with the end result, and after leaving it to dry inside for a day, we stuck it out on the balcony, and waited patiently for the flocks to descend. Unfortunately the local birds seemed to be filling their beaks elsewhere, and after one night outside in the rain the feeder fell apart. We had a lot of fun building it, but this was a definite lesson to me in managing DorkySon’s expectations!
Next, we decided to try the toucan family. This task looked much simpler in the instruction manual than it turned out to be, but again DorkySon got very involved with it. He loved smearing the polystyrene balls with fingerpaint, and was much better at it than I was.
“Bugger!” I said under my breath, as one of the balls I was in the middle of painting popped out my hand and bounced across the kitchen floor, leaving a trail of black paint behind it.
“Why did you say bugger, Mummy?”
“You’re not very good at this, are you Mummy?”
I didn’t have much more success with the glue. I managed to use the toucan tie to stick the toucan head to the toucan tummy easily enough, and after a couple of repositioning attempts, we got the toucan beak in the right place… but I could not for the life of me get the toucan tail and base stuck on. After several aborted attempts where the tail fell off and the toucan toppled over (provoking near-hysterical laughter from DorkySon), I finally gave up on the glue, and used some matchsticks to stick the tail on. I hastily shoved the remaining polystyrene balls back in the box before DorkySon twigged that there were also two baby toucans to be made. The end result was quite cute, but this one left me sweating, swearing and covered in paint.
After two tricky activities in a row, I thought we should do something that was a bit simpler, so we decided to tackle the glider next. This brought back lots of childhood memories for me! It was a simple three piece cardboard glider, which DorkySon coloured in before we stuck it together. He decided that he wanted to use his own felt pens rather than the pencils that came with the Toucan Box for this, which was fine. He was thrilled with the finished glider, and became so engrossed in throwing it around the kitchen that he almost forgot about the last activity.
The final activity – making a Peacock Collage out of coloured paper, glue and glitter – was my absolute favourite. It was lovely and simple, and not too messy. With the exception of some cutting out at the beginning, DorkySon was able to do this one all by himself, and the end result was lovely.
In addition to the materials you need for the four activities, there is a pad of coloured paper, a reading book, a good selection of colouring in pencils, and some colouring in sheets which you can keep to use another day.
We had brilliant fun doing our Toucan Box activities. A couple of them – such as the bird feeder and the toucan family – are probably more suitable for older children who can do the fiddly work themselves, but there was plenty to keep my three year old happy and interested. The selection of materials provided was good (although some stronger glue would definitely be helpful) as was the range of skills needed to complete the activities. I don’t think we are ever going to be the craftiest of families, but when DorkyDad came home that evening, DorkySon was incredibly proud to show off everything that he had made.
Any activity that encourages you to sit down and really engage with your children and have fun with them for a full afternoon gets a big thumbs up from me!
Check out the Toucan Box website for their latest subscription prices and further details.