Spring in Chicago is full of surprises. One day we are running outside in t-shirts, finding beautiful new blooming flowers. The next day we are reaching for winter coats because it is snowing again.
For the most part spring in Chicago means lots of mud. My position on mud is if you want to take a mud bath, take it.
The clean-up can be long and arduous, but I believe in the healing and educational powers of mud. The problem is that by the time clean-up is over the kids are ready to go outside again.
“Can we go outside?” they ask.
“How about craft instead?” I offer.
When Oriental Trading asked if I wanted to pick up some items for review, I said, “Yes, please!” They have the best craft kits on the planet. And the only thing that is better than a good craft is a good craft that is put together in a kit for you, so you don’t have to do any preparation.
I love Oriental Trading for many different reasons, and not just because it saves me from muddy messes. Read on to discover three ways I love Oriental Trading!
Disclaimer: I received Oriental Trading products for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. My family has been using Oriental Trading products for years, and I’m super excited to share our experience with you. I’m not an Oriental Trading Company affiliate and do not get a commission from your buying from my links. The links are provided purely for your convenience.
#1 Oriental Trading is perfect for bonding projects with kids
You know how sometimes you look at the clock and realize you have 30 minutes that are completely unplanned? Now I’m going to bond with my child, you decide. “Johnny, come over, let’s bond!” And little Johnny, who is in the middle of an epic battle involving spaghetti and Kylo Ren Lego, says “no, thanks.”
Or maybe it’s your lucky day, and your Johnny looks up from his game and says “yes, mom, let’s bond.” He comes over and sits next to you on the couch. You start by saying, “How was your day?” And he says, “It was fantastic, thanks for asking mom. How about you?” And you say, “It was great, really great.” And then you both look at each other and wonder if you’ve done enough bonding for today.
This uncomfortable dialog will not happen to you if you have a stash of kit crafts. All I have to do is spread a fun craft out on the dining room table and pretend to enjoy myself. Ok, I don’t have to pretend. I love doing crafts.
As soon as my kids see me enjoying myself, they flock over and say, “Mom! What are you doing? Can I join you?” This trick occasionally works with chores too, but it doesn’t work with cleaning the cat litter box. I tried. No matter how much I dance around the litter box giggling mysteriously, they never say, “How fun! Can I clean the litter box?”.
One handy thing about Oriental Trading craft kits is that they usually come in a pack of twelve. You don’t have to feel guilty, if like me; you enjoy doing kid crafts. Do one or three, without feeling like you are stealing from your kids.
“Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. I painted not one, not two, but THREE of my kids’ butterfly boxes.”
Yep, I did.
You don’t have to worry about kids doing it right, either. “Johnny, if you want a stripe pattern, you have to let the paint dry between each application because the colors are going to mix. And make sure, you let the box dry before your put a lid on because it’s going to smudge the paint or get stuck. And…” Blah, those tedious directions take the fun right out of creating and crafting.
I say, let them learn on their own. The first set I give to my kids I don’t say a word. They are welcome to observe what I’m doing. Or they can go ahead and come up with their own ideas. By the time they are on butterfly #3 or #6, they have figured it all out. Learning by doing is the right kind of learning.
What’s more, without the “be careful” and “did you think it through” the energy field around the dining room table is open to “real” conversation. I don’t know about your kids, but I always hear the juiciest things when we are all relaxed sitting around the dining room table just doing crafts or painting.
#2 Oriental Trading has the best educational resources
Homeschooling preschool? Or elementary grades? Oriental Trading is my #1 destination for supplies and ideas.
You don’t have to go all out and spend a ton of time putting it together either. Here I asked my 4-year old to stick a bunch of butterflies on a piece of paper and use a crayon to connect them.
I call it fine motor skill practice the fun way. If you discuss colors, you can squeeze in a color lesson. And if you count the butterflies, it’s math too.
Here is what we call My Alphabet Book. I designed cute printouts. We attached colorful alphabet letters to the top. Then we looked through magazines and googled for images that started with that letter and glued them to the bottom. My kids can’t get enough of “reading” this book! You can get self-adhesive letters to save some time.
Note: I created the pages of My Alphabet Book for my son, and I’m happy to share them with my readers! To get your free download enter your email address below. You will receive instructions on how to get access to my subscribers-only library of resources. Your email will be added to my email list.
#3 Oriental Trading sells multi-purpose products
If I was buying just one thing from Oriental Trading Company it would be a poster paper roll. It’s amazing! There is no end of activities we can do with it.
Want an amazing sensory experience? Tape bubble wrap to your children’s feet, squeeze paint onto paper taped to the floor, then dance, skate, and slide in the paint!
Here my older kids created an Alphabet Jump Pad for my preschooler. They taped colorful letters to the roll taped to the floor. Then they would call out “J,” and my four-year-old would jump on letter J. Then they would call out “Z” and … you get the idea.
In case, you are wondering how the letters are so evenly spaced, here is a closer pic.
We used a salad bowl to draw circles on the paper in a straight line, and then they attached letters in the middle of each circle.
While I was cooking dinner the other day, my older kids used the Alphabet Pad for a fun game. They took turns shouting out a word, and the other party would jump to spell the word. If someone called out “BUTTERFLY” there was a lot of jumping to do! They loved this energetic game and it’s such a great spelling practice.
I could also describe how we use Oriental Trading products with my eight-year-old to create math games, but I’m running out of space, and my newborn can only have so much “independent” play. (She is playing “Hello toes.”)
I hope you enjoyed reading about how we use Oriental Trading products in our house. As you can see, it is fun for all ages. You can use it to bond with your kids, to learn something new, and just to have lots of giggles. If you are looking for more inspiration, go here.