By Rebecca Stanisic
A few months ago, something new popped up on the school grounds. Littered across snow-covered pavement and peeking out from under patches of ice were small, brightly coloured playthings. To the unknowing eye, it appeared that small hair elastics were suddenly taking over the yard.
Nuh-uh. As kids and adults in the know will tell you, those tiny rubber bands are Rainbow Loom elastics. And now that the pavement is dry and summer is in full swing, the Rainbow Loom is still a big hit at recess and after class.
Geared to kids aged eight and older, this crafting kit involves a plastic loom and rubber bands that are used to create bracelets and other accessories. It was a must-have item last Christmas and one parent (ahem) who didn’t put a loom under the tree has since been informed, repeatedly, that her seven-year-old son is the only child in his class without a Rainbow Loom.
An exaggeration on his part? Maybe. But there’s no denying that children of many ages, and both genders, have fallen in love with this long-lasting, affordable crafting item.
An inside source (who just happens to be seven) reports that Rainbow Loom crafting was a popular activity at recess all through the school year. It’s hard to remember a time when a crafty fad was so popular. Those long-ago days of sitting in the school hallway with coloured string attached to a safety pin, knotting friendship bracelets, pale by comparison.
After all, the Rainbow Loom makes more than bracelets. A quick search online reveals baskets, rings, key chains and clothing. Yes, clothing. Search YouTube and you’ll find endless tutorials about how to make elaborate elastic creations. Some of these videos have over one million views. There’s even a book called The Loomatic’s Interactive Guide to the Rainbow Loom.
Not only has it become a go-to activity, but now kids are joining Rainbow Loom clubs and having birthday parties themed around the activity. Local toy shop owner Patti Taggart started a Rainbow Loom club at her store in January this year and instantly saw success. “The idea came about when many customers were in saying it’s so cold out and [wishing] we had something to do in the winter months,” Patti explains. “I thought maybe a Rainbow Club would be fun for the kids.” Little did she know the club would become so popular so quickly, with 10 to 20 kids, boys and girls, participating each week. “I have had my business for 13 years and can’t remember a trend taking off like this,” she notes.
Hot weather hasn’t, er, dampened the ehthusiasm either.
Sara McConnell, an Ottawa photographer and mom of three boys, didn’t expect it to be such a huge hit either when she picked up a Rainbow Loom for her eldest. However, when it was time to plan his eighth birthday celebration and she started rhyming off ideas, a Rainbow Loom party was his top pick. Sara set to work finding decorations and party ideas on Pinterest, but mostly she just made it up as she went along.
She is pleasantly surprised by how much her son is enjoying the crafting activity. It’s something he can do whenever he wants, she points out, “and make something different every time.” Now, her son is learning via YouTube and trying out more detailed creations. “He’s surpassed our skills,” Sara mentions.
No wonder the seven-year-old in my family laments that he is the only one without a Rainbow Loom. It’s easy to see why he is so anxious to get one: this hands-on, creative toy has had a big impact on boys and girls and there’s no sign that the trend is fading – or that kids are getting bored.
Clearly, my kids need a Rainbow Loom. And coloured elastics and a carrying case, or so I’m told. By the time this goes to print, you’ll likely notice me tweeting (I’m @bitofmomsense) about finding elastics all over my house. But that’s fine; I’m happy to support crafty projects. And besides, I could use a new key chain ornament.