Construct Illuminated 3-D Puzzle Creations with Creatto

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This post was sponsored by Thames & Kosmos.
The amount of time people spent in front of an electronic screen was already an issue before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then virtual classrooms and conferences led to even more screen time. As a result, many people are looking for hands-on activities that stimulate the mind and use their fingers for more than pressing keys or buttons. Creatto by Thames & Kosmos offers a puzzle-like construction experience with a final product you can use for play as well as display. 

What is Creatto?

Creatto is a simple yet versatile system that lets you create several different 3-D creations. What is unique is that these sets consist primarily of two different components that can be woven together in a variety of ways. No additional tools are needed. Creatto sets are designed for ages 8 and up. Children 8–11 who are new to this type of product may need help with learning how to follow the instructions and weaving the connectors into tiles. The components are compatible across all Creatto kits, allowing you to combine kits and create your own custom, colorful creations. Creatto sets sell for $9.95 to $29.95 depending on the size of the set and can be purchased from Amazon.

What’s in the Box?

Creatto sets include the following items. Numbers and colors vary from set to set.

  • 20-100 LED lights with either a battery box or USB connector
  • tile pieces in one or more colors
  • connector pieces
  • specialty pieces customized for each set
  • language-independent assembly instructions for four different configurations
tiles and connectors
Tiles and connectors make up most of the pieces used to make creations. Image by Michael Knight.

The tiles and connectors create the basic pieces of each set. The connectors interlock with the tiles and hold them together. Each tile has an indentation running diagonally across its center that allows you to bend or crease the tile at that location. 

LED lights
Each kit comes with its own string of LED lights. Image by Michael Knight.

Every set includes a string of LED lights which can be strung along the interior of creations so they light up. Smaller sets come with smaller strings of lights that are powered by batteries. The larger sets have longer strings of lights with a USB connector for power. 

Build, Play, Display

Before you begin assembling a creation, open the box and decide which model you would like to build. Each set comes with directions for four different models. For example, the Northern Lights Polar Bear and Winter Pals set has directions for two different poses of a polar bear, a snowflake, and a baby seal. The Shimmer Shark and Ocean Pals set shows you how to create a shark, a seagull, a fish, or an octopus. Next punch out the tiles, connectors, and other pieces from their sheets. I find it useful to make stacks of each component by type and color so they are easily accessible when you need them. The arrow-shaped ends of the connectors weave into two of the slots on the tiles as you connect components together while following the directions in the book. When the model is completed, attach the string of LED lights to the creation for an illuminated final product. Each instruction book also includes QR codes that link to videos showing how to build the creations for each set. 

polar bear
Building a polar bear. Image by Michael Knight.

Once your creation is complete, children may want to play with them and use them with their imagination for adventures. Creatto creatures and objects are quite durable and can be quickly repaired should a connector come unattached. These creations are also works of art and suitable for display. Place a panda on your desk, a dragon on your shelf, or hang a shark or a heart from your ceiling. The LED lights make your creations even more impressive when they are illuminated. 

Why You Should Get Creatto

I had the opportunity to try out several different Creatto sets. I really like the simplicity of the components. As I mentioned earlier, the main pieces are the tiles and connectors which you weave together to construct various animals and objects. There are also some custom parts unique to each set. For example, the lion’s mane or the elephant’s ears. I found it takes about 30-60 minutes to complete a creation depending on the size and number of pieces. Your first creation will take longer than normal as you become accustomed to weaving the connectors to the tiles. However, after you do it a few times, it goes quicker. Early on, I was not sure how some pieces were supposed to go together from the 2-D drawings in the instructions. However, I used the QR code to pull up a video and advanced to the spot where I was stuck. Watching the person complete that step on the video from a different angle was all I needed. While the assembled creation looks good, adding the LED lights and illuminating your work makes it look even better. 

finished lion and elephant
The Lion and Elephant completed with LED lights. Image by Michael Knight.`

In addition to building some Creatto creatures myself, I wanted to see what other people thought about them. My daughter assembled the elephant. She did not need the video to complete the creation. I even took some sets into my classroom at school. A couple of students assembled a set when they had some free time after completing their assignments. A fellow teacher even asked if she could build one during her lunch break. All of them were impressed with Creatto and had a fun time building. Other than the teacher who needed to use the video for a bit of help, everyone stayed engaged in the construction process without pulling out their phone or electronic device to check it or message someone. That was impressive to me. 

As a teacher, I automatically analyze activities for educational potential. Creatto helps people develop and improve fine motor skills, spatial relations,  and hand-eye coordination while also improving the ability to follow instructions with attention to detail. In addition, I observed increased perseverance as builders pushed through challenges because they wanted to have a finished creation. This was reinforced by the satisfaction of playing with and displaying the illuminated creature or object and sharing it with others. 

I am impressed with the variety of Creatto sets. There is literally something for everyone. With 10 sets currently available, there are instructions for 40 different models to make, play, and display. But, since the same two types of building components are in all Creatto kits, you can combine pieces from different kits to build countless colorful, unique creations; you’re limited only by your imagination! As the holiday season approaches, Creatto makes a great gift that will stimulate the mind and engage the fingers with actions other than pressing buttons or screens. Creatto offers hours of challenging fun for children as well as adults. Now I just need to determine what I will build next. 

For more information, check out the Creatto page on Amazon.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Thames & Kosmos.

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