Product Type: Ikea Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... having much space in the home we were in at the time and it still looks as good as new, after a bit of a clean - it had not been damaged ... more
Easely the best entertainment
Ikea Mala Easel
Member Name: historywitch
Ikea Mala Easel
Advantages: Cheap, sturdy, multi-functional, parts can be recycled, lots of fun
Disadvantages: frame can be decorated, chalk dust can irritate chest
How easy was it to set up?
Remove from packaging. Unfold. Enjoy. No allen keys, no fiddly screws, no incomprehensible instructions in fifteen languages and no swearing!
What does it look like? How stable is it?
Its assembled measurements are:
Length: 43 cm
Width: 62 cm
Height: 118 cm
Basic wooden frame (IKEA website states that it is spruce and pine from a renewable forest, so bonus green points there) supporting a panel on two sides. One panel is a blackboard and the other side is a magnetic whiteboard. The cross bar holding it all together also holds a 10 centimetre wide shelf running across the bottom of the blackboard and a cylindrical strut running under the whiteboard. Each of the panels is an oblong about 40cms wide and 55 cms long.
It folds flat so you can lean it against a wall or put it into a cupboard easily when it is not in use. It weighs about 4.5kg so easy enough to move it around from place to place but heavy enough to not tip easily. The cylindrical strut can be pulled out at one end and we have hung a plastic tub from this to store the magnetic letters. The easel has already been knocked over several times but is as good as new (OK, its only been a few months since we bought it), but I am really impressed with the quality which is better than some of the other more expensive easels we had seen previously. It has been well put together and well designed, simplicity being its greatest strength I think!
The Ikea website say that this is suitable from 3 years, but Olivia has had this up since she was 20 months old under my supervision (she is past the chalk eating stage anyway). She can only reach the bottom half of each board easily, but we have pulled up a couple of chairs and sit out there with her so she can reach the whole area. The magnetic letters (neither chalk or letters are supplied with the easel) are different as there is a choking hazard with the little magnets, so I suppose a decision on these can only be based on individual children. Two or more children can use it at once, but I cant guarantee there being no squabbling over chalk or pens!
What can you do with it?
Use chalks/whiteboard markers to create masterpieces. Olivia likes us to draw pictures on it for her to colour in or to draw the pictures she asks us to. We also use it as a teaching aid as she can practice drawing letters/numbers and objects without having to use reams and reams of paper. You can use the magnetic side to arrange letters/words/sums etc and we have bought several sets to do just this. It can be also used as a scoreboard or to play simple games such as noughts and crosses etc.
In the same Mala range, IKEA sell a roll of drawing paper (£3.99) which is designed to be used with the easel (and there is a cut out slot under the whiteboard to feed the paper through to prevent it from moving). This means you can use the easel for painting and also drawing with pencils and felt tips.
IKEA sell the chalks (99p for a mixture of 24 white and coloured) and whiteboard pens (7 for £1.49) also in the Mala range. You donít need to buy the specific IKEA pens and chalks though, we have supplemented from other places.
The frame is just stripped wood, so it can be drawn on really easily. Unless you feel like varnishing the frame there isnít much that can be done. There is a shelf only on one side so there is nowhere immediately obvious to put the whiteboard pens without them being covered in dust or having to walk all the way round to get them. Using the cyclindrical strut to hang tubs is an option, but then you have to buy or find the tubs as well. Chalk dust collects underneath (we have put a washable rug underneath to combat this) and in a closed room the chalk dust can cause irritation on the chest/exacerbate asthma. We have put the easel on the balcony to combat this but I can imagine it would be fabulous to put outside in the summer. My sister-in-law keeps hers in her kitchen in the winter as it is the most ventilated room in the house.
Other technical bits?
From the IKEA website:
Wooden part/-s: Solid spruce, Solid pine, Clear acrylic lacquer
Board part: Printed and embossed acrylic paint, Fibreboard
Plastic part: Polyamide plastic
Metal fitting: Steel, Galvanised
Cost and Suppliers?
IKEA are the main stockists and this retails at the frankly bargain price of £13.99
We have had a great deal of use out of this already, both my daughter and the other children I look after are entertained for hours. There have been minimal squabbles (I was wise enough to buy enough chalk for them all to have to same colour if they want!) and itís the sort of simple toy that can be used by most age groups. There has also been minimal mess as the dust is easily swept/hoovered up and I keep strict hold on the whiteboard pens! Its the type of toy that you can buy to entertain your 2 year old and find them still using in five or ten years time : a definite investment buy. I have spent some lovely hours sitting with my daughter at the easel; Mr Historywitch was less impressed with his two hours of drawing fairies but I think thatís part and parcel of having a bossy little girl who knows what she wants!
Summary: Fun for everyone