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Whilst sorting out the attic to convert it into a bedroom for my middle daughter I stumbled across my Spiro graph from when I was a child and decided rather than throwing it out with the rest of the rubbish that had been in the attic I would donate it to my children to play with as they both love to draw and colour. Both of my daughters loved the concept of the Spiro graph but both found it very hard to use as it is a little too advanced for a 5 year old to do on there own so when I spotted this on play.com I thought it was a great idea as it is a lot more of a basic concept for then to use. This set comes in a nice sturdy box that is ideal for storing it in after using it to keep all of your pieces safely together so that you don't loose any of them, in the box there is a set of colouring pencils and a pen but these are nothing special and any pencil could be used to create the designs with the other pieces. There are 3 animal stencils each having 3 gears to create different patterns. The sets vary as to which 3 animals you get but each animal has two holes in for the cogs to be used in 1 small and 1 large hole to create patterns of different sizes. This set works on the same idea as Spiro graph in the fact you have to put a cog into a hole and follow it around using a pencil to create a fantastic pattern but my daughters find this a lot easier to use as the hole the cog goes in isn't as large so there hand doesn't slip around like it did with the Spiro graph making a mess of there patterns and the stencils are a lot larger which makes them easier to hold them on the paper even foe little hands. This is a great set that my children love to use and can be shared by more than 1 child, it cost me £2.99 so is great value for the fun they have with it and is very durable and will last a long time.
I bought the Crayola Spir' Animal for my five year old son because he really likes to go arts and crafts and so I'm always on the look out for things like this that will keep him occupied. Basically this kit comes with six different sized spiro wheels, together with three animal shapes (lion, elephant & monkey), some white drawing paper, six coloured pencils (red, green, brown, blue, yellow and orange) and a felt tip type pen (black). The pencils are half length and so are an easily managable size for children and the pen has a long nib so that it can be used by to create the spiral patterns. The idea is to choose one of the spiro wheels and then insert it into one of the cut-out circles that are incorporated into the three animals. Each animal has a small cut-out circle and a larger cut-out circle. You then use the pen with the long nib to insert it into one of the holes in the spiro wheels and effectively wind it round and round into you get the pattern you desire. This can ben be coloured in using the coloured pencils enclosed. I have to say that I found some of the items within this kit to be quite flimsy and not very robust considering its used by quite young children who like to see what they can break!! The animals themselves are quite sturdy, but the wheels are flimsy and the pencil nibs kept breaking when any significant pressure was exerted - which considering 5 year olds have not honed their pen skills happened fairly frequently! Having said that, it did keep my son occupied for some time and he did find it quite easy to use. He needed a little help initially to understand how to use it, but he grasped the concept fairly quickly - and then liked showing off at the intricate designs he could create. The patterns were sometimes a little too intricate and it was quite difficult to colour in the patterns with the pencils provided because the nibs were a little thick. A downside it that it does contain all loose items, some of which are quite small, and so its very easy to lose parts unless you're very careful with packing it away. You can keep reusing the box that the kit comes in and this has lasted well. I bought this kit from Toys R Us for only £3.99 which I thought was pretty good value. I would recommend this as a nice little craft kit for a child five years or older. I think children younger than this may find it a bit fiddly and therefore frustrating.
Like lots of my toy reviews I'll start this one much in the same way as the others..... My daughter received the Crayola Spir'Animal for Christmas. It has been played with quite a bit in the last couple of months, here's why: The set is not overly large so it does not take up much room. When you open the box, everything is ready to go as it does include paper, pencils and a pen with a long nib! In addition to this you get your 3 animal shapes - lion, elephant and monkey. They are all brightly coloured so kids will ove them. Not only are these great to act as stencils and draw round but they have a large circle in the middle as well as a slightly smaller one too. This is much like spirograph -come on you must remember them! This is obviously on a smaller scale. It comes with 6 different sized wheels with various holes in to create your pattern. You can create no end of designs by simply inserting the chosen wheel in to one of the circles. It has 'teeth' on both the wheel and inside of the circle and they act as cogs. Choose which hole to insert your pen in and go round and round and round. There is a little pack of pencils in there too to colour your finished design in. The quality of this is excellent as you would expect form Crayola, the plastic is nice and thick and doesn't look likely to break if dropped or whatever. They recommend age 5+ but my 3 year old can manage it with a little help. I quite enjoy playing with it myself as I can obviously create quite nice and more complex patterns than a 3 year old (in my opnion anyway ha). The designs are all obviously ultimately circle based and combine a series of circles and loops to make a lovely pattern. I think that this is brilliant for helping to develop pen control as one slight slip and your creation is ruined! While this can be frustrating for a 3 year old it teaches her to take her time and not rush, keeping her pen straight as well as concentrating on what she is doing. The pen included is one of Crayolas writing pens which are ideal as they are washable and also have a longish thin nib which you will need - most biros will be too thick. It is well worth investing in some more of these pens if you are purchasing one as the one included will eventually run out. I remember my old spirograph not having a pen which fits fits in the holes - annoying! This can be purchased from Amazon, Play.com, Toys R Us etc for around £5-£6. Well worth the money....