The latest schoolyard craze causing a ruckus is the Rainbow Loom, which involves a crochet hook and multicolored rubber bands, and results in colorful bracelets that are the passion of elementary school girls and boys everywhere. Two New York City schools, however, feel the passion may be poisoning recess and classroom time.
In one Upper West side school, P.S. 87, anything related to Rainbow Looms is considered contraband, while in Brooklyn's P.S. 107, students are still allowed to wear the bracelets, but they are no longer allowed to bring the "looms" and "related paraphernalia" to school.
Some parents are scratching their heads over the decision to ban what they see as a highly creative outlet for kids. In a world where arts education budgets can be strapped, prohibiting an artistic recess activity can seem counterintuitive.
The Rainbow Loom also defies stereotypical gender norms, as boys and girls are similarly obsessed with making, trading and giving the bracelets to their friends. In a story for Time magazine, Annie Murphy Paul expressed surprise when her 7-year old son, who normally plays football and baseball, asked for a kit and embraced "the distinctly feminine activity of making jewelry." Murphy argues that the Rainbow Loom is more than a toy — it's hope for gender equality.
"I think it's a complete overreaction on the part of the administration," says one P.S. 87 mom who asked to remain anonymous. Rainbow bracelets are an inexpensive and creative source of pride for the students who also use the trend to build community as they collaborate on pretty intricate designs, she says.
At the same time, other parents applaud the schools for taking action. They believe that the rainbow looms were disruptive to the classroom environment and created a divide between those who have the looms and those who do not.
Image: Rainbow loom bracelets, via Shutterstock