Product Type: Tomy Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... in the border at the bottom). The white space is a blank canvas for drawing and doodling. However, you don't use paints, crayons etc - ... more
You "water" buy this!
Tomy Rainbow Aquadraw
Member Name: loopy-lou33
Tomy Rainbow Aquadraw
Advantages: No mess.
Disadvantages: Expensive for what it is.
As I have mentioned in some of my previous reviews, I have a 5 year old son with learning difficulties. One of the big problems that he has is with co-ordination and fine motor skills, which means that he finds controlling a pen very difficult indeed. Now he is in year one at school, there is an increased emphasis on writing, and my son is really lagging behind. The occupational therapist suggested working on "pre writing" shapes, such as crosses, triangles and circles, and encouraged me to find different fun ways for him to do this so that it doesn't feel like work.
The Aquadraw by Tomy is great for this, as it enables the child to make marks on the mat using a variety of different tools. As the name implies, the medium used is plain old tap water, which means that it is almost impossible to make a mess using this product, unless you spill water, and the specially designed water tray minimises the risk considerably.
So what do you get for your £25? Firstly, a decent sized mat that you can place in the centre of the room. The mat has a white plastic surface that you can "draw" on, and some coloured designs around the edges that are purely for decoration only. The mat has a main drawing area, and a little white cloud in the bottom corner that can also be drawn on.
Several tools are included in the set. The main tools are two water pens, which have a soft tip for drawing. You unscrew the end of the pen and fill it up from the tap, before screwing the end firmly back on. There are also 3 stamp attatchments, which are designed to be pushed onto the end of the pens. These make different marks on the paper, such as a moon and a cloud. The kit also contains a "paintbrush", which makes bigger, wider marks on the mat. The brush is actually shaped like a decorating brush, but has a fabric pad on the end, which is dipped in water. This is used with the special water tray, which is plastic, with high hollow sides, which prevent the water from spilling when it is tipped over. My kids like this tool the best.
When the mat gets wet, the white plastic reveals a rainbow pattern underneath. It reminds me of those pictures we used to do in art at school, when you colour a page in bright colours and go over the whole thing in black wax crayon, before scraping it off to reveal the colours underneath. It is then up to the child what they do with the mat. They can draw or write with the pens, make hand and foot prints, draw around the outline of their body, or (like my kids), soak the whole thing in water until all of the white has disappeared!
The picture will fade quite quickly, unless you have soaked it in water. This means that the mat is soon ready to draw on again. This means that the child is able to keep going for as long as they want. It is an excellent way for my son to practice his pre writing shapes, without the rigidity of sitting him down at a table with a paper and pen. My seven year old daughter also enjoys playing with the mat, especially getting me to draw cartoon characters for her and then she tries to copy them. My 10 year old son will also have a go occasionaly, mainly scribbling over the work that the other two have done, and "flicking" the water pens everywhere!
The obvious benefits of the mat are that you can promote the kid's writing skills without them realising it is work. Also, the fact that the mat is mess free is great. Like most parents, I have had to clean crayon off walls in the past, and I am not really a fan of the huge mess created by paints (I know, I'm mean!), there is also the huge advantage of not having a pile of pictures that your child won't let you throw in the bin! And think of all the trees you are saving!
So what is the mat like to use? After all, this is a review. Well, the kids really do enjoy playing with it, but it is not their favourite toy, and in reality, we only usually get it out of the cupboard about once a month. They still really love their crayons and felt tips, and this is not replacement for them, but it is just another outlet for their creativity. I would say that this toy would appeal to kids from crawling age, right up to about 8, although I would always supervise young children. It doesn't take them long to work out that if they suck the end of the water pen, they can drink the stuff inside!
In our house, an average play session with the mat would typically last about 20 minutes. By this time, they will have saturated the whole thing in water! We have had the mat for over a year and it is still in really good condition, but I always hang the mat to dry after use and make sure it is bone dry before I put it back in the art cupboard.
Would I recommend the Aquadraw? Yes, but I don't feel that the hefty price tag reflects what you actually get in the box. I think £10 would be a more reasonable price to pay. The toy is a good idea, especially for very young kids, and has a variety of creative uses, as well as helping children with co-ordination problems to develop their pen skills.
Summary: A clever idea.
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