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I lived the idea of this as soon as I saw it advertised. With a young toddler who loves to explore her creativity things can get quite messy so this product seemed ideal. Basically the idea is that you fill the pens with water and then use them to draw on the mat ie the kids are just drawing with water essentially which changes to colours once in contact with the am so there is absolutely no potential for mess.
This works really well. My daughter loves using the pens and they are very easy to use. The box comes with 3 stampers which you can attract to the end of the pen as well as a paintbrush roller which is the favourite tool here. My daughter is content to is and draw and she is fascinated when the mages start to fade and she starts over again. I have read a few reviews which stated that the mat takes a while to dry out between uses but i Didn't find that to be the case.
My one criticism of this product is that the mat creases very badly when you have a toddler crawling over it and drawing. it looks in bad condition after only one or two uses although it's perfectly useable and honesty that is my only gripe with this otherwise great product.
When my nephew and niece were young they both really enjoyed playing with their Tomy Aquadoodle mat (then known as Aquadraw). I thought it was a great idea that you could draw with water and that there would be no mess afterwards and was keen to introduce my girls to one. I started with the Aquadoodle mini mats which they seemed to enjoy and so bought them this Rainbow Aquadoodle for their 2nd birthday. There are several other versions of Aquadoodle available including Classic, Disney and Peppa Pig. I decided on the Rainbow one as I liked the idea of it being colour.
What do you get?
Included in the box is a 75cm x 75cm mat, the size seems to have reduced from when my nephew and niece were young but it is still a fairly decent size. My twins manage to both play on it at the same time so there would be plenty of room for one toddler. You can't draw on all of it either as it has colourful pictures which form a border. The pictures are eye catching for your little one though being a mixture of things including a rainbow, butterfly and aeroplane.
To draw with you get 2 pens, these are a larger version than those included in the mini mat sets and so are easier for little hands to grab hold of. The pens open and close in the opposite direction to that which you would think so open is anticlockwise and close clockwise. This prevents little fingers from opening the pens and tipping the water out.
Also included are 3 stamps which clip onto the end of the pens, these are a star, a cloud and raindrops. To get these to work straight away I run them under the tap when I fill the pens. The stamps help solve the problem of little ones sucking the water out of the pen nibs as they covered when the stamps are attached and these don't fit into their mouths as easily!
The final items for budding young artists are the paintbrush and no-spill pot. The brush is made of material not bristles and so easily absorbs the water for painting with. The no-spill isn't exactly no-spill, one of my girls had managed to soak her trousers within seconds of picking it up and I had only put a small amount in. I now only put enough in to just about cover the bottom so if it tipped upside down it does all go into the sides of the pot and not out the top.
Since receiving this toy a couple of months ago it has had almost daily use. I'm asked for 'rainbow, rainbow' and we start to draw and stamp and as the mat gets wet the colours appear. I must say that the promotional pictures for this toy are not realistic as there is no way you can recreate the drawings that they show. The mat has 4 stripes of colour each approximately 10cm wide and these are yellow, pink, blue and yellow again. Where the colours meet you then get small areas of orange, purple and green. This doesn't allow you to get the quick succession of colour change that the promotional pictures indicate that you can. Although I felt I had been misled this toy is aimed at those aged 18 months to 5 years and my girls love it!
They are currently too young to do much other than make the mat wet with the pens, do wet handprints and use the stampers. They do however enjoy myself and their Dad doing simple drawings, drawing round their hands and painting rainbows with the brush. As this toy is advertised as being suitable up to 5 years there is plenty of time for them to develop their artistic skills, unless they follow me and then it may sadly be a lost cause.
The great thing about Aquadoodle is that as soon as it dries out the pictures disappear and you can start again or pack it away with no mess to clear up. No mess is always good in my book as there is already quite enough in our house with 2 toddlers.
Price and availability
I purchased mine with my Tesco clubcard vouchers as part of one of their voucher exchange promotions so it was free. It's also available from Early learning Centre at the RRP of £24.99 but it is currently (November 2012) £19.97 on Amazon. I think the RRP is quite expensive for this and it is worth waiting for it to be on offer somewhere if you can.
Would I recommend?
Yes, Aquadoodle allows your little one to have fun and explore their creative side. The mat folds up small making it easy to store and easy to transport if you are going away. I think it is a great product and although I was initially disappointed that it didn't work in the way I thought it would it keeps my girls entertained for ages which is the main thing for me.
My daughter sure has mastered the art of making as much mess with as little effort and tools as possible. In the blink of an eye our living room can go from neat tidy to looking like a bomb has exploded! As I'm sure most parents will agree, it can sometimes seem like the little one has all the toys in the world and so I was running out of ideas myself what to get her for her last birthday, but after seeing a very fun-looking convincing advert on channel 5 I decided to get her this aquadoodle mat so she could do 'painting' without the after effects of the paint everywhere!
- The Product -
It is essentially a playmat where by using water it draws pictures with colour. It is a waterproof mat, with a type of plastic sheet on the bottom and a white fabric top which can be drawn on. It is quite visible to see the colours underneath the white fabric upper which is a rainbow design of red blue green and purple. Designed around the edge is a fabric border which has pictures of a rainbow, a bird, a sun, balloons, butterflies and a helicopter. The pictures are very bright and funky and at the top of the mat it says Aquadoodle (the brand) and Tomy (the manufacturer).
-Inside the box -
This mat in particular is one of the more basic mats, and is slightly smaller than the more expensive ones available in the market. Inside the box, the mat came folded into four quarters, and is very lightweight and takes up minimal space. It is a reasonable size, 74.5 x 74 in length and width and extremely thin at 0.4cm. This rainbow mat only comes with 1 aquadoodle pen, a simple fabric type brush and it came with 3 stamps in the shape of a heart, a star and a triangle (if my memory serves me well!)
- How to use -
The product is really simple and straightforward to use! Simply fill the pen with water, and get drawing! Applying the pen to the mat, allows the water to flow out freely and this brings up the colour on the mat so appears as though drawings are in different colours. Once the water dries, it is all completely blank and plain again so can be re-used time after time making it very re-usable!
- My opinion and Usage -
When I saw this advertised on TV I thought it was a brilliant concept and the answer to my prayers! I'd often tried to engage with some arts and crafts activities at home with my 2 year old on days off, and I know how much she loves painting, but it always was the case that regardless of how much newspaper I laid down she found a way to make mess and get it on the carpet! One great thing about the aquadoodle is that it literally is water, so it wasn't going to stain my carpet or cause me a reason to get my vanish spray out and be scrubbing the floors.
Using the mat is simple, easy and so straightforward. Being her 2nd birthday my daughter easily grasped the concept of the mat and had fun playing with it straight away. It was very entertaining and interactive and we have spent loads of afternoons doodling on this mat! Drawing around her hands and feet, drawing all sorts of farm yard animals (I really can't draw to save my life by the way!) and learning to write her name, even though she is only 2, there are endless things to do with this mat!
It comes with plenty of equipment so the stamps are a lot of fun to use, I simply filled a small shallow bowl with cold water and she would dip the stamp in the water (as if it is paint) and then press it down on the mat and it will show the shape e.g. a star. Sadly a year onwards, I cannot find any of the stamps as they are relatively small and my daughter has a penchant for taking things out with her whenever we leave the house in her pockets so by now they really could be anywhere! The pen is a bit fiddly, as it is opposite to use in comparison to what I expected. To unscrew it, it needs to be twisted clockwise (with a lot of arm strength I might add!) to remove the 'head' so to speak and then put the water in. I find turning on the tap so the water is barely dribbiling out is the optimum way to fill the pen as it is very thin and so overflows easily and quickly. The pen was a bit hard to use at first as it needed to be pressed down quite hard on the mat for the water to flow through the tip onto the mat to be used, but after a bit of usage it was very simple and straightforward. The "brush" it comes with, just simply needed to be dipped in water and then do strokes across the mat for the desired painting effect.
With the brush and the stamps needing to be dipped in water, I often leave a small pot of some lying around, which almost always gets knocked over by her so I don't do too much so my carpet isn't completely soaked! If there was an ingenious way so water was already inside them like it is with the pen it would definitely be much better, but I can't quarrel with this product on this basis too much!
Only having one pen is a bit of a bummer as my daughter likes me to play with this with her so means we have to take turns on the drawing, so I'd actually have preffered 2 pens and no stamps to be quite honest but que sera sera lol.
I really like this mat and over the year my daughter has really enjoyed playing with it. Sadly now Miss Clever Clogs has worked out the concept of it and now just goes to the bathroom, fills a cup with water and pours it all over the mat as apparently this is much more 'entertaining' but leaves her bedroom floor like a swimming pool so I now have to hide this mat so she can only play with it with my supervision! I still think she has got a long time yet playing with it, so as a gift or toy it has got a lot of use and I definitely recommend it!
I bought it from argos last year for about £20 and have seen it now on amazon for £20.39 so not too bad in terms of inflation haha! It is recommended for ages 3 and up but my daughter had it when she was 2 and we had no problems, she loved playing with it and of course I was always there playing with it alongside so I really think this age is just a guideline.
For anyone looking for some creative fun at home, that doesn't create anywhere near as much mess (just a few spillages of water occasionally!) then this product is for you! It's fun, funky and so simple to use and keeps my little one entertained which of course is so hard to do with their attention spans these days!
Features all the magic of Aquadoodle no mess drawing with water in glorious technicolour.No mess, no fuss and no stress for Mum, the Rainbow Aquadoodle is the perfect way to encourage any budding young artists to develop their artistic and creative skills in an easy to use and fun filled format. Simply fill the pens with water and let little hands create their own masterpieces. Aquadoodle can be used time and time again. As the magical canvas dries, the pictures disappear to allow for new masterpieces to be created. Create pictures with the Aquadoodle pen or make larger paint brush effects with the special paintbrush!