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Kids Craft Kits: Expectations vs. Reality

Take a few steps into Target, any craft store or even the grocery store for that matter, and you can't miss them: craft kits for kids. Felt puppets, homemade lip balm, friendship bracelets, sun catchers—everything your children need for almost any project you can imagine is available, ready to go, organized in its own box or plastic tub with full-color instructions included.

Containers packed with pre-measured, pre-cut, pre-everythinged supplies for all those various kids' crafts are so convenient, aren't they? Or ... are they?

RELATED: Kids' Extracurricular Activities: Expectations vs. Reality

I've been lulled into that false sense of parental smugness by these kits on many occasions, each time fully convinced I had purchased a magical box brimming with brain-stimulating quiet activities. Most recently, my almost-4-year-old excitedly selected a set she could use to create foam sticker mosaics in all different animal shapes.

We got home, and it took her almost five whole minutes to construct a solid fingertip-to-elbow glove with hundreds of self-adhesive foam squares squished into colorful wads, then declare she was bored and ask if she could cut the paper sticker backing into tiny shards instead, which she left scattered all over the living room carpet. Adorable, but not exactly what I had in mind for my $12.99 investment.

But that's the point. It never is what we had in mind, is it? Sure, they still have fun (mostly) and that's the important thing, but wouldn't it be nice if some of our Big Parenting Plans turned out the way we expected them to with these craft kits every once in a while?

What you expect: They'll be entertained for hours!

What happens: You spend hours scraping glow-in-the-dark glitter glue off your kitchen table.

What you expect: The box will contain everything you need to make several items.

What happens: The kids use every single googly eye and Popsicle stick on the first project, then complain that everything they try to make with the remaining glue dots and four beads is hopelessly lame.

Your child somehow finds a way to make fuzzy pompoms extremely dangerous.

What you expect: This project will stimulate your kids' creativity!

What happens: Your kids find creative ways to get pipe cleaners stuck in their hair.

What you expect: They'll follow the instructions on the large plastic bucket the craft supplies came in.

What happens: They completely ignore the craft supplies and wear the large plastic bucket on their heads.

What you expect: This will be fun. We're really going to bond!

What happens: Your child is too busy to bond—too busy having a complete emotional breakdown over the fact that their feathered headband doesn't look exactly like the one on the box.

What you expect: It'll be a great activity for a class party or sleepover.

What happens: Each child gets 87 feet of yarn and enough pre-punched foam pieces to make an adorable pencil pouch, at which point you realize they're all supposed to share one single oversized, blunt-tipped plastic safety needle.

RELATED: Your Regrets vs. Your Children's Regrets

What you expect: The craft will be age-appropriate, based on the recommendation on the label.

What happens: Your child somehow finds a way to make fuzzy pompoms extremely dangerous.

What you expect: You'll be finished making homemade holiday gifts months early!

What happens: Um, do we know anyone who needs seven stretchy cotton loops that are permanently knotted and tangled up in a potholder loom? Grandma, maybe?

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