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I agree with everything in the review from Kingfisher111, but I would add that it works brilliantly for much younger children. My daughter is just over 2 years old and we spread the paper on the kitchen floor. I then squeeze the paint into the corners and she loves nothing more than putting her hands and feet in it and wandering all over the paper, watching her prints magically appear. We draw very simple shapes like flowers as it is not very precise, but she loves it. I have to keep using the same sheet again and again as it would work out very pricey to use a new sheet each time we paint. I do find the paint 'brushes' really hard to use and very user unfriendly, but young ones will love it.
Being a bit of an artist, my daughter was given quite a few 'arty' gifts at her fifth birthday party. We had so many that I put a few away and I've been bringing them out one by one so that she really gets the most out of each one. This has been quite successful especially because of the very bad weather we've been having in the school holidays. One such set was the Crayola Colour Wonder Mess Free Paint set. We were both really looking forward to this one - she because she thought it looked like a lot of fun and me because it contained the words 'mess free'!
The idea behind this set is really very good. You are provided with special type of paper and special pens and when the two meet you are able to create magical colourful pictures! It looked like it would be great fun but as soon as my daughter got started we realised that there were a number of problems with it especially as she likes to be fiercely independent in everything she does but she needed to ask for my help quite a lot of times so ended becoming quite frustrated.
The first problem was working out how to use the paper. The kit contains three large sheets which are 2 and three quarters feet by two and a quarter feet. Because these are so large you need quite a big space to work on and we ended up on the kitchen floor. The instructions tell you that the colour wonder paper is specially coated so that colour only appears where it is. The problem is though that they don't tell you which side is coated and we ended up trying to paint on the wrong side and wondering why it wasn't working!
The next problem lay with the paint filled brushes which are very strange things indeed. They have a thick brush head which is attached to a peculiarly shaped clear plastic glue. It looks like they might be specially moulded into a shape that helps small children with their grip but it does not say this anywhere so I am only guessing! These clear tubes are filled with some sort of off white liquid which looks very much like gungy glue. When you first open up they have a plastic tab which you need to pull off which should release the paint.
Now the idea is that you use these brushes (of which there are only three in red, blue and yellow) on the special coated paper and before your very eyes you will start to create wonderful masterpieces! Or not! Firstly it is incredibly difficult to get the paint flowing through the brush head. We tried shaking and squeezing and it was incredibly hard work even to get a trickle. There was no way that my daughter (who is five) could do this by herself and it would be much much harder for a three year old which is the minimum suggested age for this kit. Even when we did manage to get the paint through it did not flow steadily and my daughter was having to apply a great deal of pressure. Sometimes she would get barely a trickle and other times she would get a great big blob! However, despite this, it is exciting at first to see the three different colours magically appear and it's obviously very clever how it works.
Another frustration for my daughter was the fact that the brush heads were very thick. She is quite particular with her drawing and enjoys doing some quite intricate pictures. With these brushes it's impossible to get anything other than thick crude brush strokes and filling in any areas is very hit and miss due to the difficulties with the flow. For younger children they would more likely be happier with a less defined picture but I would be very surprised if my three year old could manipulate the brushes at all. Added to this the fact there are only three different colours and you soon realise that you are very limited in what you would be able to achieve. I did wonder for a moment if, because they had supplied the primary colours you were sipposed to mix them, but I fail to see how you could actually do this!
All of this is a shame because I do think that in principle this is a good idea especially as it's a way of painting that does not involve any mess and if your child does get any paint on the walls, carpet, skin or clothes it does not appear at all. It's one of those products that seems to fall between two places. It would be absolutely ideal for younger children if they could only manage to get the brushes to work. Older children can just about manage this but they want a lot more from their artwork.
I know that Crayola do make other colour wonder products and I'm sure that some of these might be a bit better than this set. If you want to know anything more about Colour Wonder or any other Crayola products you can visit their website at
We did not buy this as it wa a gift so I do not know what it cost but as I don't really recommend it I don't think the price matters too much!
My daughter did manage to create a beautiful butterfly using this kit but she soon lost interest and I don't suppose she'll be asking to get it out again in the near future! What a shame!