Kids are getting crafty in new craze

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 05:00 22/06/2014
Alexandra and Sophie Judd
DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ

PLAY TIME: Alexandra Judd, 6, and sister Sophie, 8, with cards and looms.

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Rainbow looms and Dreamworks trading cards have taken Kiwi kids by storm but the new trends are having more positive impacts than just pulling their eyes away from screens.

Jodie Judd's daughters, Sophie and Alexandra, have dived head first into the latest crazes of rainbow looms - rubber bands woven into necklaces and bracelets - as well as Dreamworks trading cards, a Countdown supermarket promotion.

If you haven't heard of rainbow looms and Dreamworks cards, you've either been living under a rock or you don't know any school-aged children.

Judd said her daughters, aged 8 and 6, had been collecting the cards since the promotion kicked off last month.

The girls were given cards by their grandparents, traded them at school and sourced some of the ones they needed to complete their sets at a Countdown swap meet, she said.

Sophie and Alexandra also used their pocket money to buy the cards' official $6 albums.

Countdown general manager of marketing Bridget Lamont said parents and children had collected millions of cards, and more than 100,000 albums had sold out across the country.

Since then, thousands of Trade Me listings had popped up for full sets of cards in albums for up to $100.

Parents were also taking to Facebook to swap and collect cards in a bid to get the whole set for their children.

Indigo Assessment and Counselling educational psychologist Emrie De Vaal said the cards had a positive effect on children by helping them improve their negotiation skills.

The cards gave children a chance to learn about supply and demand, and the comparative value of different objects, De Vaal said.

De Vaal, a mother of two boys, said the cards gave her the opportunity to have conversations about the value of products, prices, promotions and marketing, she said.

Lamont said the promotion ran from May 5 to June 15, and there were 42 cards to collect.

The supermarket chain would not say exactly how many cards had been sold, or whether the promotion had helped the store regain market share lost following a massive consumer backlash after allegations made under parliamentary privilege that the supermarket chain was treating its suppliers badly.

Countdown's competitor, Foodstuffs, which owns New World, ran the successful Little Shop promotion last year, and the supermarket could be bringing back the miniature groceries.

The miniature groceries collectibles and accessories were in high demand last year. A set of the 44 miniatures fetched $540 on Trade Me in September and a Facebook page dedicated to swapping them attracted almost 1500 members.

However, schools and parents are picking Dreamworks cards as the winner at the moment.

Though busy with their trading cards, children still made time to join in the international craze of collecting and weaving rainbow looms.

The loom craze is not exclusive to New Zealand, with Britain going nuts for the bracelets since Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, was spotted sporting looms during the royal tour of New Zealand and Australia.

According to The Daily Mail, sales of loom bands had rocketed by more than 300 per cent in the United Kingdom, and came eighth on Amazon's best-selling toys list after classics such as a Rubik's Cube, Monopoly, Scrabble and Tommy Pop Up Pirate.

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They were invented in the US last year by father-of-two Cheong Choon Ng. Since then his company, Rainbow Looms, had sold more than four million kits.

Judd said her daughters had been hooked on the looms for about a month.

They received a kit on special at Kmart, and used their pocket money to buy more bands from the $2 Shop, she said.

Judd said she appreciated the crafty aspect of the hobby.

The girls made more bracelets than they could wear, so they gave them away and swapped them with friends.

De Vaal said weaving the loom bracelets helped improve fine motor skills and sequencing.

The educational psychologist worked with children with learning difficulties like dyslexia, who struggled with patterns, she said.

"It's a really fun, non-threatening way to practise these sequencing skills."

Children always found new trends, but nothing had taken off like the looms and Dreamworks cards in a long time, De Vaal said.

Sometimes children put pressure on parents to buy them the newest thing, but if children were driving their parents crazy over the objects, it was due to behaviour that was already present, not the new objects, she said.

Sophie and Alexandra Judd went to New Windsor School in Avondale, Auckland, where principal Glenn Bermingham said the looms and trading cards had been "fantastic".

Even some of the teachers traded the cards, he said.

And the looms helped with children's problem-solving skills.

While the marketing aimed at children could put pressure on parents, it was up to the parents to make the decision, he said.

"I see every potential problem as being a possible learning experience."

- Sunday Star Times

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