“ Type: Painting - Works with just water „
I was first introduced to the series ' In the Night Garden ' when my son was a toddler, around 12-18 months old. We started to watch it on the Cbeebies channel and he really enjoyed it. It was playing at the perfect time when I needed him to wind down for bed, and thought it would be a nice programme for him to watch after dinner and before I put him down.
Since he enjoyed it so much I took him to see the live show for his 2nd birthday. He enjoyed it but probably found it all alittle strange that something he watched on the TV was all of a sudden coming to life. Roll forward a year later with the arrival of his sister, and we went to watch the SAME live show ( I must be mad! ), and I bought both of them a goody bag which contained a set of these aqua mats.
What is In the Night Garden?
This is a programme that has been broadcasted on the childrens channel Cbeebies since 2007, which is aimed at children between the ages of 1 and 4. For me they are a more sophisticated and up to date version of the Teletubies, as the programmes characters are brightly coloured, larger than life and are mainly costumed but mixed with puppetry and animation.
What was included in this set?
4 reusable mats with 4 completely different pictures on it. One pen.
How does it work/how do you use?
The recommended age for using these mats is 18months plus.
The 4 mats have different pictures/scenes on it, but you can only just about see the picture. With the pen included, you need to unscrew it, fill it with water then screw closed. Draw over the mat with the pen, and once the mat is wet, the picture comes through. When the mat dries, the picture ' disappears '. This is exactly the same principle of the aqua doodle mats out there and used in the same way.
What do I think?
In our house we have had a couple of aqua doodle mats so I knew how they worked. When we first got this it kept my son ( not my daughter as she was alittle too young for it ) occupied for a little while, but soon lost interest. Mainly because he had other toys included in the goody bag he received. But the good points I could see with this toy was:
Could easily be slipped into my childrens bag or mine, just in case they needed something to do when out and about travelling.
No mess-didn't have to worry about felt tip marks anywhere or crayons/paints.
Quite a safe toy, nothing really for them to swallow or chew. The pen just a tad bit too big to swallow or jam into places that they shouldn't place it in e.g ears, nose etc ( saying that I wouldn't put anything past my kids! )
Mats although not easy to rip, are quite flimsy and easy to screw up and bend.
Cant really be that creative with this as all your doing is revealing one imprinted scene on the mat, and that's it! So once you can see the picture theres not anything else to do.
The mats didn't come with a bag or holder to place them in so very easy to lose.
Age wise, a child of my sons age 3-4 I think would get very bored of this quickly, where as my daughter would find it interesting but only for abit. So I think this isn't one of those toys that would interest a wide range of ages.
Would I buy this on its own? Yes, but as a small gift for a young child like a stocking filler. If it cost maybe £1.00-3.00 then that would be fine, but anything more than that would be a slight waste of money and time. I would rather get them a proper aqua mat, or cheap colouring in book with some felt tips which would do their imagination a lot more good.
Nice enough, but very restrictive even for the youngest kid. Cant do much with it. Couldn't find this readily available online so maybe not for sale any longer.
The score I have chosen is down to the fact if you have a young child (maybe aged 1-2, like my daughter ) and they watch and love In the Night Garden, they will enjoy this. Just wont find it that interesting for that long.
This is a review of Tomy Aquadraw In the Night Garden Mini Mats which we received for our daughter's second birthday. They are deemed suitable for 18 months plus and I had seen these on Amazon and been considering a purchase for a while.
What are they?
These are a set of four 'mats' which have a feint picture on them. The set comes with an empty barrel pen that you fill with water and then use to draw on the mats to develop the coloured picture underneath.
It took my daughter a while to get the hang of these. I found it better to attach them to a clipboard so that she could draw on them better as they are a bit flimsy and to call them 'mats' is pushing it a bit in my opinion. The water pen was a little bit awkward too, foxing me for a moment when I realised you twist the barrel in the opposite direction than expected to open it to fill with a small amount (around 10ml) of water. Once finished, you can dry off the mats so the picture virtually disappears and you can start again.
The pen doesn't last long before it needs refilling and this didn't really capture my daughter's imagination for long. She soon picked up how to play when I showed her how to colour in the mat. However not long later I found myself sat alone colouring one in as she had run off to amuse herself elsewhere! I like the 'mess free' concept of this game though and it really is impossible to make a mess with them. I was worried that our daughter would rip the mats as she is a bit of a monkey with paper but they are a bit reinforced and have stayed intact so far. The fact that when dry you can see the picture albeit faintly, spoils it for me as there is no surprise reveal that I remember with the water painting pictures I had as a kid.
A set of four mats retails at £6.25 on Amazon. This includes free postage.
I was not over wowed with these but they are reusable and an activity that we can do at home or away without making a mess. I don't want to sound like a total killjoy and don't mind a bit of mess but like it to be within my control for clearing up. I would not bother buying further items from this range as I don't think they are that good but we have received a big play mat in the Disney Princess branding under the same Aquadoodle title so it seems we are destined for further water play and I will review this larger version separately as it is a little different to the mats. The Tomy Aquadraw In the Night Garden Mini Mats may appeal more to some children but our daughter was a bit indifferent to it.
I was really pleased when my twins were bought this set of In the Night Garden Aquadraw Mini Mats as I had seen the bigger Aquadoodle mats and I thought this would give me a good idea of whether to invest in one.
In the Night Garden is a tv programme on Cbeebies aimed at very young children and it was the first programme on tv that my little ones took an interest in and they love all the characters so I was hoping they would enjoy making Iggle Piggle and his friends appear.
The mini mats set
Packaged in a cardboard box this set consists of 4 reusable mats and a water pen.
It is made of plastic and is easy to fill from the tap by unscrewing it in an anti-clockwise direction, the open/close directions are written on the pen as they are opposite to the way you would naturally turn it. This stops little ones opening it by accident as if they turn it they are likely to be closing it further. I find that the pen gets stuck closed sometimes and I just can't get it open and have to get my husband to help, not great if he is at work when it happens. As the pen works with water there is no mess and I quite happily let my girls play with these on our living room floor. Luckily we got given another pen as the set only comes with 1 and so allows my toddlers to have a mat each if they want or at least a pen each to suck on which they do a fair bit.
The 4 mats all come printed with scenes from In the Night Garden on them and different coloured edging on the bottom of the mat so you know which way up it goes. You can faintly see the picture but it only shows up brightly when water is added. My little ones had these mats from 18 months when they were just marking it with dots or lines but now at 21 months they are learning to colour them in a little better and love seeing the pictures appear.
Once the mats have been coloured in you have to wait for them to dry which fades the picture away until they can be played with again. As my toddlers like to keep changing what they are playing with this works fine as they are normally ready to use again by the time they come back to them.
The mats feel quite flimsy but are actually quite tough and although ours have been creased a fair bit they have not ripped and still work perfectly well.
Price and availability
As we received these as a gift I do not know the price paid. They are currently available from Amazon for £4.99 which I think is a reasonable about to pay. You can also get the mini mats in different designs such as Peppa Pig and Toy story, prices vary.
Would I recommend?
Yes, we've had lots of use from these mats and they are ideal for travel as they hardly take up any space. Best of all they don't make any mess whilst teaching little ones how to hold and use a pen. I have bought a large mat to give the girls for their birthday and I'm hoping they like that as much.
When my daughter first got an aquadraw mat we had a problem in that she had to play on the floor with it making it easy for her to wander and she was trying to cover the TV in water! We decided to put the large mat away for a little while and I bought her these so that she could get the idea but could play at her table which she knew she wasn't allowed to take pencils etc away from.
I bought these in Tesco and they cost £6.99, the mats are created by Tomy the same company who does the large Aquadraw mats. In the range there are a number of different characters available such as Cars, Rapunzel, In the night garden and Peppa Pig to name a few. The mats are now about £8 for a set and there are manay more options available than when my daughter got hers.
The mats come in a cardboard box which has a hanging loop at the top for shop display, on the front of the box you have a ciercvle in the top corner showing the 4 pictures included and it states that this is collection one although i'm not sure how many collections there are in this option. The mats are aimed at children aged 18 months and up and i would say this is a suitable age. Being packaged in a cardboard box you need to be careful that the mats and pen are fully dry before putting them away otherwise the box would get soggy, our set has been going for over 2 years now and the box is now a bit battered but it still holds it's contents well.
Inside the box you find 4 mini plastic feel mats and a water pen, to fill the pen you unscrew the red nib and fill with water before replacing the nib and screwing back into place. One pen full of water is enough to do all 4 pictures so you are not constantly running back and forth to the sink. You are able to see the picture on the mats before water is added but these are grey and dull as soon as water is added the pictures come to life and are lovely and colourful, the mats have a plastic feel to them and are very good quality and have never bent or got any patches that don't work. To be honest I don't know all the characters to bare with me while I try and tell you the pictures you get.
Picture one shows Upsy Daisy with Iggles Piggle and Makka Pakka with his bike, picture two is of Upsy Daisy, Igvgle Piggle, the Tombliboos and makka Pakka at their sort of bandstand looking thing with the funny large inflatable looking characters who I really don't know. Picture three shows Upsy Daisy, Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka and the Tombliboos all stood on grass with trees in the background and then picture four shows Iggle Piggle and Makka Pakka playing with a ball with the Tombliboos in the background and their funny train looking thing. i have surprsied myself at how much I actually do know about this programme!
My daughter loved these, to begin with I had to help her hold the pen but she very quickly got the idea of what to do with it, in the early stages playing with these she couldn't manage to colour over the edges of the pictures and would get upset when her table got wet so I had to help her with the edges. As my daughter has grown she got to grips with these pictures very well and up until about her fourth birthday this is a toy that was played with over and over again, we will soon to be allowing her sister to have a go of these and see how she does. the only thing my daughter got a little frustrated with was how long the pictures would take to dry so that she could do them again although I found they only took about ten minutes to dry which i don't think is a long time but for a small child this seems ages. I would recommend these, they can be used over and over and still work perfectly now after 2 1/2 years which I think is great for spending £6.99 on a toy.
Having three children, anything that is described as being 'mess free' automatically appeals to me, which is why we've come to own three different sets of these Aquadraw mini mats. These reusable little mats come in packs of four with each set featuring popular children's characters. Amongst the range is this In the Night Garden set which should be recognisable to most toddlers and pre-schoolers.
The pack includes four small reusable mats that appear totally blank (aside from a coloured pattern at the base) and a 'pen' which actually includes no ink and just needs to be filled with tap water. The children use the water to colour over the mat and bright pictures start to appear as the mat gets wet. The pictures then fade as the mat dries and the mats can be painted over and over again. It is an incredibly simple but ingenious idea as kids love colouring and painting and most parents hate clearing up the mess afterwards! This handy little product gives your little one(s) the opportunity to get creative while cutting out all the hassle.
This particular set is bright and colourful, once water is added, and includes the most popular and recognisable characters from the TV series, including Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka, Upsy Daisy and the Tombliboos. The only noticeable absence is the Pinky Ponk so parents beware if that is your child's favourite character!
The mini mats claim to be suitable for children aged over 18 months. My youngest son is around sixteen months old and is now able to use the 'pen' on these sheets and observe the emerging patterns and images. He doesn't really have the patience or understanding to try and 'paint' a complete picture as yet, but they have proven to be a handy little product to keep stored within a changing bag, ready to keep my little one occupied for a few minutes during his brothers' nativity play, for example! That really is the best use for these kind of mats as the small size and simplicity makes them easily portable and they can be kept to hand for any little emergencies, whenever youngsters need distracting for a few minutes.
The pen supplied with the pack unscrews the opposite way to what you would expect, presumably to make it more difficult for young children to unscrew. The packs only contain one pen, which is a bit of a shame when the pack contains four mats as, obviously, only one child can play with the pen at a time. It is possible to buy replacement pens for the sets but, as these cost a few pounds each, I find it more cost effective to buy an extra pack of the mats, which is why we've ended up with so many packs! I have resorted to using a paint brush with a cup of water in the past, which is just as effective as using the special pen, although that method is obviously not necessarily quite as mess-free.
These are ideal for children under around two and a half, particularly in confined spaces or at times when noisier or messier toys would not be appropriate. Beyond that age, I've found that my children quickly become bored with the mats after just a couple of minutes as they don't offer any scope for creativity or any variety once the initial 'painting' has been completed. My four year old certainly doesn't have any interest in playing with these now and is much happier with a traditional colouring pen and proper paints.
These sets are quite widely available and generally cost somewhere between £4-£7 per pack. I think that is fairly reasonable value as we have owned some of these for a good few years now and none of the sheets have ripped or torn at all. The sheets are quite thin though and quite a few are looking slightly the worse for wear, with a few creases on them. They also absorb grease marks quite easily, so will mark if handled by toddlers with greasy fingers! I've found that the marks are impossible to remove and don't even fade with time. This doesn't really affect the performance and use of the mats though so I'd say they are reasonably durable, certainly for the price tag.
In all, these are a handy mess-free standby ideal for the changing bag for parents of toddlers. They don't offer much entertainment for children as they get older and want to be more creative but I would say they are worth the price paid for the times they are used.
When I went to the Baby Show a couple of weeks ago, one of the freebies I received was this set of four mini Aquadraw mats featuring scenes from In the Night Garden. Quite what the daft woman who handed them to me expected five month old David to do with them is unclear, but when I got home I gave them to his big sister who has been a big 'Garden' fan since she was a baby.
The small mats come boxed with a pen which you fill with water, the aim of the game is then to scribble with the pen across the mat and magically the pictures will become visible. The pictures in the set are the same as the ones Dooyoo have put up in their piccie, only don't expect anything as bright and colourful as those - they appear to be the HD version, which is a gazillion times brighter and more attractive than the mats Hollie has been playing with for the past few days.
The pen has an irritating feature; you have to unscrew the nib end to fill it with cold water, only it unscrews the opposite way to just about anything else I've ever used. I think this is probably to prevent the children from undoing it themselves and spilling the miniscule amount of water that the pen holds, but when I (as an adult) can't unscrew the thing properly first time then that says it's quite badly designed.
And anyway, the mini mats are ridiculous even when you manage to fill the pen with water. They are a kind of updated version of those 'magic' painting books most of us will have had as children - you know the sort, sit there with a pot of water and when you've swiped your wet brush over the page you'll end up with a (soggy) colourful(ish) picture. I hated those books because they were boring, Hollie hates these mats for the exact same reason.
The pictures just look so washed out and there are zero chances for your child to display any of their own creativity while using them. Hollie found it highly amusing for (oooohhh) thirty seconds before drifting over to her box of pencil crayons and drawing her own picture on a piece of paper - much more exciting for her, and better for me as I had something she'd made herself to stick on the fridge.
I suppose a plus point of these is that there's no mess after Hollie's used them, not much of a plus point though as if I don't fancy paint mess I just don't let her have her paints out! Simples. This isn't painting anyway, it's simply rubbing a small sheet of plastic with a water-filled pen.
Just looking online I can see these sets ranging from £3 to £5 in price, they're not really worth any amount of money though as your child can have very limited fun with them - Hollie's set went in the bin this morning as she didn't enjoy playing with them and even if she had I'd have been worried about them stifling her usual creativity.