The Trouble With Arts & Craft Kits

March 29, 2018
By Beth Herrild

You can find arts & craft kits, and now science and STEM kits, all over the place these days. When my kids were younger, I purchased all types of kits for them and was invariably disappointed. Here are my beefs. Perhaps they will help you decide which products to buy when shopping for kits for kids or even for yourself.

• No or very minimal creativity required! One of my competitors, (we are competitors, although we are quite different,) boasts a project that entails painting some pre-cut wood pieces and assembling them via pre-drilled holes and one bolt, to make a clock. That could be a fun craft, but it isn’t art. As a parent, you may think that your child needs explicit directions to follow, but wouldn’t you rather help build their imaginations & creative problem solving skills?


• One And DONE! I frequently hear from parents that they subscribe, (or the Grandparents subscribed for them,) to another art subscription box, or even to a science or STEM box and the projects are One And Done activities. One and done means that it is something your child does or puts together and once he/she has completed it, there is nothing else to do. On top of this, the result is usually a thing, like the above mentioned clock, that the parents don’t know what to do with! Many parents have told me that they have these things stacked up in their garages. Not to toot our own horns, but that is why we use high quality art supplies, which in most cases can be used several times after the initial art project is done! We also don’t re-package paints and other art supplies for several reasons, but one reason is that once the material has been used up, parents can easily purchase more if the child really enjoyed working with it. You might want to think about what the product is and how it will be used or end up in a landfill before making a purchase.


• Loads of Non-Eco Friendly Materials! Admittedly, it is difficult to be totally eco friendly when creating art. This is one of the things that keeps me up at night. However, we try, whenever possible, to make the eco friendly choice, even if it costs a little more. What this looks like in our boxes, are materials that are reusable and/or water soluble. For instance, we use real rubber brayers (rollers) for printmaking projects instead of cheap plastic and foam ones. So, if customers don’t wish to keep them, they can be donated or given to someone else to use. Our April 2018 Box is a project that utilizes all recycled materials! I just can’t stomach the craft projects that involve gluing little plastic things to some other thing. It’s a good idea to survey the amount of plastic or non-biodegradable materials before making a purchase.