As you know at Kids Bee Happy we completely road test all of the product and activities, and as a team here at Head Office, we tend to push things to breaking point, just so that we can tell you where that is.
So to test the Pebble Pets/Trolls, we decided to utilise a workshop that we were running at the Skiffie World Championships, here in our own friendly Stranraer, and this is what we learnt:
Workshop for 2 hours over lunchtime, at the meeting point of the activity marquee and the entertainment marquee, next to the food, with tables and chairs for families to sit and enjoy lunch and other entertainment between the races.
The Set Up
We ran this as a sit down activity, tables and chairs. I use my Ikea boot trays as these are great for hosing down afterwards for cleaning up, and they give a workspace sufficient for 2 big kids or 3 little ones. The table could take about 14 children at a time, and when children finished, they left and others filled their spots.
Re-purpose your kits
I am a great lover of the bowls, with me, the bowls get used for everything, all of the time, not just the sand. I took about 15 bowls, I had 3 bowls full of pebbles, 2 bowls of pens, 2 bowls of googly eyes, pipecleaners,feathers and other sticky things, 2 bowls of Cream Silk, I broke up the moulding clay into smaller lumps and split those lumps between 2 bowls. The beauty of things in bowls is that they can be moved along the table, passed between the children, rearranged and topped up as necessary, it also keeps the products clean and clear, so they don't get lost and muddled in with any general table mess.
What else did I have - Along with these my kit consisted of Metallic paints, paint palettes, brushes, pots of water for the paint brushes, wipes, kitchen roll.
What I learnt:
- Leave the water behind. The paints dont need water, they work better and dry quicker when its simply paint on the brush. When you want to change colours, just wipe the brush on a piece of kitchen roll, no need to rinse.
- Painted pebbles dry in about 10-15 minutes, so get the Children to do the painting first. Again, keep the brushes dry. If you are doing a very busy workshop, and want to get a quick turnover of children through, then paint the stones in advance. If you're doing a time based workshop with a specific number of children then let the children paint the stones, if they do them one at a time, and they are stacking them, the first one will be dry by the time they've finished painting the second or third one.
- Don't take Silk Cream to busy workshops - the silk clay is absolutely fabulous with the pebbles, as long as you use it carefully and know what you are doing. If a busy "free for all" type situation, you don't get the time to supervise how every child uses the silk cream, and the worst for it are the parents who helpfully unscrew and remove the nozzles for their kids. And then because their pebbles are covered in silk cream, you then have lots of very colourful hands and fingers also covered too. Keep the silk cream for the workshops with older children. (purple hands courtesy of silk cream)
- Wipes are all you need - you dont need to worry about water for handwashing etc, the paints come off perfectly with the wipes, and are much easier to manage in a field or outside workshop.
- Pens dry really quickly. (But also pen ink comes off the hands with a wipe).
- Markers and colouring pens are the best thing to use to add detail and patterns, to the painted stones.
- Children prefer stick on googly eyes to making their own with modelling clay. Don't restrict the kids to 2 eyes each, the most fun pebbles have lots of eyes.
- Modelling clay is wonderful, it gives lots of fun, for not a lot of raw material.
- Pipecleaners were the favourite accessory of the day, they were used for eyebrows, arms, legs, moustaches, mouths, hair, and just random additions. Pipecleaners were the only accessory to be completely used up.
- Modelling clay is a great way to stick pipecleaners and other bits onto the pebbles.
- Covering the pebbles in modelling clay rather than painting or colouring with pens works really well, and gives a very dramatic impact.
What I took v What was used (35 children)
I took about 90 pebbles - we were left with 4 pebbles at the end.
I took 1 packet of metallic paints (the kids really love these colours), we squeezed out about half of the paints into the palettes, all palettes had paint left in them at the end.
I took 1 packet of pipecleaners - all were used up
I took 1 packet of googly eyes - nearly all were used up
I took 1 packet of each of the 8 colour bricks of modelling clay. I put half of each brick out (broken into 2 for the 2 bowls on the table). I have about 40% of the clay that was put out left so we used only about 30% of the clay
I took a handful of the EVA shapes - hardly any of these were used.
I took 1 set of Silk Cream - this was all very messily used, and is not something that I would recommend for kids under 8 years old (especially with parental supervision)
I took 2 sets of modeling tools for the the clay - no one really used these, most children preferred using their fingers
I took half a roll of kitchen roll, we used a bit. We also used about 80% of a packet of wipes.
I took 1 packet of shells, 90% were unused.
I took 2 complete sets of colouring pens - we had all of them left at the end, and all are in good condition for other workshops.
I took 2 sets of the glitter markers, same as the pens, all of them were checked back in at the end, and all in good condition for re-use.
How much did it cost?
The total cost of the materials from scratch (ie assuming that you had none of these in your kit and you had to buy everything afresh) was £95.82
The value of the materials that were consumed in the workshop was £32.45, with the difference £62.97 representing the items added to my kit for re-use in other workshops.
We had priced this workshop at £5 for 30 children - £150 for the 2 hours. We had more than the 30 children we agreed, but we had no issues about pricing etc, because simply some children made pebble monsters stacking 3 pebbles, and others just did the one pebble, other children made two separate 1 pebble pet - so our pricing basically covered the number of pebbles and when we ran out we ran out (but we didn't - we had 5 left at the end, with one being recycled)
Did everyone enjoy it?
Yes! They did, and they are all coming back tomorrow to do sand art. The photographs show the level of pride in their creations - there is a higher element for creativity with the pebbles than the sand art.
Would I do it regularly?
Yes, but definitely not with the Silk Cream, and I would only put the paints out if we were indoors or outside on a dry day.