NSW primary schools are banning children from bringing loom bands - brightly coloured woven bracelets - to stop playground tears over unfair sales and swaps.
Children of both sexes have become so obsessed with the bracelets, made from tiny rubber bands, that many schools have written to parents about stopping students from wearing, trading or selling them.
At Sydney's North Balgowlah Public School, the deputy principal made use of the school newsletter to warn of particular dangers associated with fads such as looms and trading cards.
Canine capers: Isabelle (right) and Phoebe Myers get their dog into the loom band trend. Photo: Janie Barrett
''There always reaches a point when complaints re shonky deals and sneaky tradings multiply,'' Marita Nieuwenhuis wrote.
Teachers were often forced to spend a large amount of time unravelling ''the Byzantine nature of the deal made''.
Ms Nieuwenhuis said the bracelet loom craze was sweeping the school, and asked that students not trade or wear them at school.
The fad, which has come and gone in the US and Britain, started in Sydney in December.
Prince William was spotted last week wearing the hair-pinching wristbands that a small boy had given him.
Other schools to ban wearing or trading the bands include Quakers Hill's Barnier, Manly West and Greenwich primary schools.
''It's gone mad,'' Jenny Jackson, owner of Hopscotch, a toy store in Mosman, said. ''Boys love them just as much as the girls. All the mums are really excited because boys are doing craft, using their hands, and not just sitting in front of the computer and TV.''
Stores such as Big W at Ryde cannot keep up with demand for the bands and the $15 kits, which include a loom similar to French knitting. ''We sell out within a week,'' a sales assistant said.
Manufacturers are launching new variations, including glow-in-the-dark, spotty, glitter, and even new ultraviolet bands that change colour in the sun. The bands are sold for between $2 and $5.99 a bag.
Initially, many children made the bands using the looms provided in the kits but these sold out.
''Since kids had a meltdown if they couldn't get a loom, the mums were coming back and getting bands, and the kids were using their fingers,'' Ms Jackson said.
Isabelle Myers, 10, and her sister Phoebe, 7, of Stanmore, were introduced to the little loops by their friends in the inner west.
Since then, the sisters have made bracelets, necklaces, hair bands, rings and key chains for family, friends and their dog, Scruffs.
They are not banned at the girls' school although Phoebe says they ''annoy some teachers because kids like to fiddle with them in class''.
Their father, Brett, likes the trend, but not the bending involved when looking for stray rubber bands.
''Anything that keeps them occupied and doesn't involve the television or a computer is a win as far as I'm concerned,'' he said.
Alison Elliott, a specialist in early childhood and primary education from University of Sydney, said banning children from making bands at school was going too far.
''Talk about the nanny state, now we want to ban rubber bands. What are we going to ban next? Yo-yos, skipping ropes, and all sorts of playthings,'' Professor Elliott said.
Barnier PS, Quakers Hill: Students banned from selling them or wearing them but they may make them in breaks.
Greenwich PS: Banned. These ‘‘wonderful’’ crafts are not school uniform so should be left at home.
Windang PS: Banned. Students enjoy making the bracelets but they should not be worn at school.
Manly West PS: Students may make them but not wear them.
Lambton PS: Loom creations may be made in breaks, but need to be out of sight in class time.
North Balgowlah PS: Bands may be made but not worn, traded or sold at school.
Source: school newsletters online