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With a strange ball of light appearing in the sky (we think it was the sun) and a total lack of rain, two year old Freddy and I decided to spend a lovely afternoon outside yesterday. We went to the park, played with the sandpit and then we decorated the path leading into our garden with lots of lovely colours. Rather than painting the concrete we drew with chalks and the particular chalks we used were these the ELC Jumbo Coloured Chalks that have been specifically designed to use on pavements. Although these are currently out of stock online the standard price is £4 for a tub of twenty chalks, but if you wait until the ELC holds an Arts & Craft event you may be able to pick them up for the £2 I paid.
The tub holding the chalks is made of almost transparent plastic and comes complete with a snap-on lid and handle. I really like the design of this tub as it makes storing and carrying the chalks that much easier. I don't have to worry that it is going to become tatty and rip like cardboard and it allow Freddy to carry it outside for alfresco art sessions. The lid fits tightly onto the tub, which does mean that Freddy presently cannot open it himself saving my house from suffering the effects of a sneaky raid. The top is also too difficult for Freddy to replace, but has proved to be shower-proof when accidentally left out in the rain.
Within the tub there are a total of twenty chalks in six different colours. The chalks definitely do live up to their Jumbo name, being between 2cm and 2.5cm in diameter and 10cm in length. There are a total of five white chalks within the tub, with four of those being 2.5cm in diameter and one 2cm, I do like that there are more white than coloured chalks as we use more white when drawing such things as hopscotch boards. There are a further three chalks in each of the other colours, which are blue, green, yellow, orange and pink. What is absolutely brilliant about this tub of chalks is there are enough sticks for more than one child to draw at the same time.
Although it is perfectly possible to use these chalks indoors with a chalk board or paper, we've only used them outside on the concrete at the side of our house. The chalks feel quite large even in my adult hands and to be truthful they are a little too large for Freddy's hands. Rather than having a point these chalks are completely blunt, so when they are new it is impossible to be completely accurate with them. It's easy to make marks with these on concrete, the chalks are soft enough to make bright marks, but this softness combined with the rough surface of the concrete means that they wear down quite quickly. Freddy loved being allowed to draw all over the path and spent a good twenty minutes covering the path with a multitude of different marks. In fact Freddy was so obviously having so much fun that some of our younger neighbours asked to join in and these children aged between two and seven all worked together to completely coat our path in a multitude of drawings, scribblings and colour (after I checked with their Mum of course).
Although the chalks did wear down considerably during this time, they didn't snap even with some rather rough use. We did, however, find that everyone had a liberal coating of chalk dust on their hands and clothing, but it washed off (and out) easily on a 30 degree wash. Everyone was really impressed with our path when they'd finished and thought it looked really pretty, but we had a torrential downpour during the night which washed all of the beautiful artwork away. While Freddy & co were a little disappointed that all their work had vanished overnight, I quickly pointed out to them that it meant that we could start all over again on the next nice day and they cheered up no end. As well as being great for drawing and scribbling on the floor these chalks can be used to enhance physical play. They're great for drawing non-permanent hopscotch boards, or you could use them to draw a goal on a wall, or a tennis net on a wall, or if cricket is your thing then cricket stumps, safe in the knowledge that they will easily wash away. You could even use them to draw arrows for a treasure hunt pointing to the treasure, or to decorate a cardboard box as a pirate ship. Your (or your child's) imagination really is the limit.
The ELC state that these chalks are suitable for children over the age of two and I would say this is just about right. Although they are non-toxic and wouldn't really cause any harm to younger children, at two Freddy's hands are only just big enough to hold them (and he is a large two year old). We did allow him to try the chalks before he was two, but to be honest he found that he couldn't grip them very well. As to an upper age limit there isn't one and that again I agree with, I'm a grown woman and I had almost as much fun as the children drawing with these.
I think this tub of Jumbo chalks was a fantastic buy at £2 and would even be willing to pay full price if I am unable to replace them while on offer. They are a perfect way to add a new dimension to artwork and allowing Freddy to express himself while out in the fresh air. Yes they do wear down quite quickly, but that's to be expected, after all concrete isn't the same smooth surface as a chalk board. But the colours are bright, the chalk transfers easily to the path and after a rainstorm (or couple of buckets of water) we have a nice fresh canvas to work on. So I'm giving the ELC Jumbo Coloured Chalks a hearty five stars out of five and recommending them to the parents of any child who has access to an outside surface to draw on.
These brightly coloured jumbo chalks are perfect for all your creative projects. Age range: From 3 years.