Simbrix is another product Rebecca and I are reviewing this fall as part of her “continuing education.” It was sent to us by Timberdoodle in exchange for our honest review. You can probably tell from the pictures what it is, but I’m going to talk about it anyway. I’m sure you’ve seen (and maybe played with) the fusible beads that you can arrange on a peg-board and then iron to fuse them together. Simbrix is kinda like that, but not really. My kids have enjoyed the fusible beads at different times over the years, but I’ve never know what to do with the finished product once they were done creating it. I mean, it’s not exactly a toy… though it could be played with, it’s not really all that exciting… and I honestly can’t think of any practical applications for such things. A coaster, maybe? A keyring fob? Eh. But they sure are fun to create. Except for the fiddly-ness of the peg-board. Bump it and the beads go everywhere. So Simbrix? Yeah, they’re kinda like that. But no peg-board. Notice the shape of these little colored beads? They connect together on the sides. Which means the creation-in-progress stays together as you’re working on it. They easily slide together and apart so you can re-do sections of your project if you “mess up.” They hold together well enough that the finished design can be played with or displayed until you’re tired of it. Then you can take it apart and make something else. We did an online search for “pixel art” to find patterns. Rebecca enjoyed making squares of each of the colors before she started on a design. I guess she thought that would be a handy way to have the colors sorted. She and I have enjoyed creating pictures while we listen to audiobooks. It has been really great for honing her fine motor skills, especially that pincer grasp. I also appreciate that it challenges her to think creatively. If you run out of the color you were planning to use, what can you do to continue building your picture? Substitute with a different color? Change up the design a bit? Here’s a horse picture she was working on. She ran out of tan beads before the picture was finished. At first she thought she would just have to take it apart and build something else. Working together, we decided she could extend the mane somewhat (to use more of the rust-colored beads in that area, to free up more of the tan ones), and then maybe the neck could be patterned “like a paint horse.” So that’s the design she came up with. The red-white-and-blue border was also her idea. Quoting from Timberdoodle’s website: “Not only great for focus and fine motor skills, cognitive professionals understand that creating with Simbrix is a powerful way to extend your child’s memory.” Since memory is something Rebecca struggles with I’ll be encouraging her to “play” with these as often as possible. The Simbrix Expert Kit comes in a cloth drawstring bag, perfect for storage. It includes 4,000 beads in 17 colors. It also comes with a few small patterns and ideas to get you started. Oh, and the finished designs can be ironed together if you really want to. But then, of course, they wouldn’t be reusable. I think this set would make a great Christmas gift! They are recommended for ages 5 and up. I enjoyed playing with them myself. I could even see elderly people enjoying them, in lieu of jigsaw puzzles or something like that.
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