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Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts Review by Kendra Fletcher Heidi Strawser

Shirley Gust
Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts
501 Greenbriar Lane
Buffalo, MN 55313

Sometimes a product comes along and you wonder "where has this been all my life?" (or, at least, a certain segment of your life). Such was the case for me when I saw a review of Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts. I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. My girls are 16 and 9, and doing 10th and 5th grade work. In addition to homeschooling them, I also work part-time from home as the Special Projects Manager for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I barely have the time to do my housework, let alone spend special, quality time with Ian (who is 3).

Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts seemed like just what this busy mom might need! So, I contacted Shirley and she graciously agreed to let me try her product out. The first package came just in time for December and the Christmas holidays. Ian was overjoyed to sit down and work on some "fun school" and I was thrilled to have something all planned out for me (something that required very little preparation on my part, yet yielded pleasant results).

Each month has a theme color (for example: December's was green, January's is brown) and a theme shape (December's was the star, January's is the circle). There are crafts that incorporate these themes, as well as crafts that coincide with any holidays during that month, etc. This is taken directly from the Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts website:

"We will send you everything you need to do 12 crafts a month with your preschooler.* Our crafts are educational, engender a Christian worldview and are fun! Each month our crafts celebrate days of interest such as Columbus and Leif Erikson days in October, Lincoln and Washington's birthdays in February and the National Day of Prayer in May. Each monthly packet includes craft supplies, reading and snack suggestions, ways to 'catch' your child doing good and a letter of encouragement for the parents." (*Craft staples such as scissors, glue and crayons are not included.)

The instruction sheets go through each craft one by one. They are thorough, but simple to understand. I appreciate that there is a picture of the finished project so that we know exactly what we're working toward. The crafts require a good deal of cutting, which Ian isn't quite ready for; I do most of the cutting, or recruit my 9-year-old to help with it. You will need to add in the basics, such as crayons, glue (or glue sticks), tape, and stapler; but everything else you need to create 12 crafts is included in the kit. The instruction sheets also include a list of book suggestions and snack ideas (things that will go along with the craft themes).

A certificate of completion is included with each month's kit. This is a great way to give a sense of accomplishment to your little one (I am including Ian's in his portfolio). A monthly calendar is also provided; you can use this with your child to show special family occasions, appointments, etc.

Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts are well-worth the price (in my opinion). A 1-month package is $18. If you purchase a "package deal" of several months in advance, the price is reduced (3 months = $17.50/month or $52.50; 9 months, called a School Year Package = $17/month or $153). These prices INCLUDE shipping. Order cut-off is the 15th of the month for the following month's package (in other words, order before January 15th if you want February's kit).

Product review by Heidi Strawser, Special Projects Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2010

Another review:

At the beginning of each school year, I always have such great intentions. Art! Music! Field Trips! Crafts! Soon, however, the weight of all that has to be done sets in and those grand ideas tend to get pushed to the back burner, or at least are not tackled quite as often as I had hoped.

I have learned over the years that if I can have all the supplies purchased and ready to go, I am more likely to do an art project or craft with the kids. I've also learned that if those supplies come in a kit, I am one happy mom. No need to run around to several different stores with all the kids in the van, hoping they'll have what I need.

Shirley Gust of Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts provides a terrific kit well-stocked and planned for homeschooled preschoolers. Each month's kit has a seasonal theme and allows opportunity to practice cutting, gluing, basic writing (such as numbers and letters), and coloring.

The projects are simple enough for mom to pull out and scan the instructions in a few seconds--no major preparation time needed. Most days I could just peek in the box for the next project, hand it over to my five-year-old with a few instructions, then let her go to it. She adored each project she made.

While simple enough for a preschooler to grasp and not be frustrated, the projects are quite cute. During the month of March, for example, my daughter made a shamrock welcome sign, an octopus, and an elephant puppet. She used stickers, cut out bees and their hive, and practiced her numbers. There was nothing complicated or frustrating, and she looked forward to each new project with that sweet five-year-old excitement. And just for a fun and encouraging touch, each kit contains a certificate for mom's use--print the child's name on it, tell them what a good job they've done, and watch their little eyes light up.

Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts offers a monthly kit that is mailed to arrive the last week of the preceding month. September's craft package will arrive the last week of August; October's craft package will arrive the last week of September and so on. You can also order a quarter's worth of kits and not have to think about ordering again each month. Order cut-off for the next month's kit is the 15th of preceding month.

I love seeing homeschool businesses do things nicely, and Shirley Gust certainly falls into that category. I think you and your preschooler will be blessed by Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts.

Product Review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2009