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Hope loves getting creative but often this means that there is plenty of mess created. when I saw this mini easel from Crayola I became really interested as it appears to be a mess free way of children expressing their creative sides. I had great ideas for it, thought it would entertain Hope for hours on end and help me to crack on with some work whilst she explored her creative side with this exciting looking gadget.
=== What does it look like? ===
This easel looks like a little plastic easel, the picture Dooyoo has provided is very good and accurate. It stands upright and you can adjust how upright it is and also close it so it can be carried around like a little case with the top of it becomming a handle.
On one side of the easel is a magic aqua doodle type part with red plastic holding it in place. The opposite side is white plastic and has a plastic gel filled board with bright orange plastic around it. In front of this board is a little shelf with three egg-shaped shapes inside. These little shapes have shapes underneath them- a triange, circle and square which are just outlines and they slot into their own designated spaces on the shelf.
Inside the top of this where the handle is is a little yellow pen which you push to pop it out and it is attached by string so it can't go missing.
It is a rather compact little gadget making it very easy to store and it's great to carry around with the handle. It's nice how the pieces that come with it have their own spaces too so that everything can be stored together.
=== What does it do? ===
The aqua doodle part of this toy enables your child to draw images free hand but it's mess free as it doesn't involve any ink. Instead it is a plastic marker pen which you fill with water. This water is clear but when it is pressed against the aqua doodle paper it turns into different colours due to the colours in the paper (these are rainbow colours so depending upon where on the paper the pen is put will dictate which colour comes through). As the water dries the image disappears leaving the page clean again for you to draw on again.
The other section of the toy has blue plastic covering it and has an orange coloured gel behind it so that when it is pressed down the blue disappears and the orange comes through. The point of this page is for the three shapes to be put upon it and pictures made out of shapes. To wipe it clean you are supposed to squash the plastic around until the dents from the shapes are smooth which then makes the orange gel disappear.
=== Is it educational? ===
Anything creative is educational as it helps your child develop their imagination as well as their creative skills. This helps children to explore their hand eye coordination too as they learn to hold the pen and the shapes correctly. The different shapes on the little eggs can also be used as an education tool as you teach your child the different shapes and they learn to get the pieces into the right holes.
=== It's faults ===
This gadget sounds like a great idea, how I've described it above about what it does sounds as though it would help keep a toddler or young child occupied for a long time and provide lots of fun, unfortunately it isn't the case. This has so many flaws that it doesn't work very well and it has really made me very disappointed in a brand which I usually rate very highly. We bought this for Hope as one of her main Christmas presents and I actually feel very sorry for her that we wasted our money on such a shoddy item.
Firstly the aqua doodle side of things is really very poor. The pen when put against the paper drips out far too much water so that all of the pictures and scribbles Hope creates just drip down the page and look terrible. If you lie it flat for it to work it does stop the dribbles but it just makes all the lines she draws very fat. The page itself is only small because the red border is so thick taking up valuable drawing space which just seems unnecessary. It does dry quite quickly so the pictures don't stay on very long which is probably a good job as there isn't much space on here for any drawings to be done. The pen is attached by a string so it's actually quite hard for Hope to manipulate as she's restricted by how much she can move it as the string isn't all that long- yes she can reach each part of the board but it is only just long enough so it seem a bit awkward for her.
The gel side of this gadget is shockingly bad. From the moment I lifted it out of the box I thought it was broken as bits of orange were all over it but it's just the way it's designed. We tried to smooth the plastic so that the dents from it being in the box were smoothed out and the orange disappeared but every time we moved our fingers across it more bits of orange appeared under where we'd applied pressure. When Hope puts the shapes onto this she needs to press on quite hard to get the orange to show through and it often means that the easel moves and slides across the table out of her reach because it's only light. When she eventually does manage to get the shape onto the easel it's very disappointing as the orange gel seems to only show up on part of the shape so we may have three corners and the odd line of a square in show and the rest is still blue. If she leans on it whilst putting another shape on then that shape tends to fade into blue even more. Once a shape has been pressed on you can see the indentation of it on the plastic afterwards and it doesn't seem to ever go which makes this look really poor and when you do go to smooth it out it's all bumpy so orange bits appear.
=== My opinion ===
I am extremely disappointed in this and I wish we hadn't bought it, I cannot believe that I was excited about Hope recieving this for Christmas and thought it would be her main present! I just hope that other people read my review and don't make the same mistake as we did.
In essence the idea of this is fantastic and if it worked then I do think it'd be a great present for a toddler but unfortunately there is nothing that redeems this item, it doesn't even look particularly appealing with it's cheap nasty plastic and lurid colours.
I wonder whether the people who invented this actually tried it out for themselves and saw that the two boards meant to be fun and creative actually don't work at all. The fact that the pen is attached to the easel should be a positive as it means you don't lose it but actually it is just yet another negative as it restricts how well your toddler can use it, instead the string should be longer or it should be detachable.
Any drawing that your child will try to do on the aqua doodle part of this will look terrible as the water drips down the page. When Hope draws on this she seems frustrated and I don't blame her, it's hard enough for a little person to try to express their imaginations onto paper as it is let alone for the water to be dripping down it making their images look so very different to how they want them to look. The page is so small that there's little room to draw much at all and it just means that it creates more frustration with little people who want to get creative.
The gel side of this is extremely flawed and I find it hard to believe that in this day and age they can't come up with a better alternative. This is extremely irritating for me whenever i try to help Hope to put her shapes onto it and make patterns. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to an eager two year old wanting to be creative and have fun.
Probably the best part of this are the three eggs with the shapes underneath them, at least Hope can put them in the correct places on the shelf which is nice for her but that's about it.
This is light weight and it does close up so you can carry it around which is a good idea, however, there is no way that your child would want to carry this around and take it to Grandma's or a friend's house because there is no way that your child would want to play with it. It's actually an embarrassing purchase that we've made, it's so very poorly designed and just doesn't work at all. You can buy other aqua doodle items which lie flat so they don't drip and they are much bigger making them far more practical and entertaining for a little person so I just wish we had spent our money on one of them instead of this as it's a waste of space, time and money.
I do not recommend this at all it has been nothing but a frustrating disappointment. Crayola usually make very good quality items but they have failed to impress me on this one. If you are wanting to buy it it's available from Toys R Us for about £15 but I wouldn't even say it was worth £5, it's absolutely appalling so steer clear and don't make the same mistake as we did.
I would give it 0 stars if I could but unfortunately 1 star it will have to be!
My first easel was created for crayola beginnings. I was very excited for my daughter when she recieved this for her 2nd birthday. Being a Crayola product i believe it would be a quality product. But was was soon to find out this was not the case. Being only £14.99 it looked like a great product for the price. I am very dissapointed with it.
The easel itself was packaged very well so there was no chance of it getting damaged. We set the easel up, and it was looking sturdy and a good toy for my daughter. First she started to use the gel pad which you can use the shapes from the shape sorter to inprint on the gel pad. You get three shapes, a circle, a triangle and a square. This wasnt very good at all. The shapes did not imprint when my daughter pressed them in. She got so frustrated with it. My partner then had a go and he couldnt get it to inprint either. If an adult didnt have a chance of it working there was no hope for a child. You can use you finger to draw on it though.
The otherside is very much like an aquadraw. You can fill the pen up with water and draw on the board leasing a lovly colourful design. Thats what its suppose to be like. The actual product is very different than expected. Firstly the pen is attached with string that isnt even long enough to reach the top, and no easy for a child to move freely and be creative with. When we filled the pen half way with water and tryed it on the easel. As soon as the pen touched the easel its squirted water everywhere! The pen just leaked and water ran down the easel. After being overloaded with water we waited for the easel to dry. After it had dryed, where the pen had been used across the surface, the surface had become ruined. It hadn't gone back to the way it was ment to be. It had also damaged and made the surface ruff even some of the surface had come off.
I am very dissapointed with the product. Being crayola we believed with would be brilliant.
I would not recommend this product to anyone.
I normally have great faith in the Crayola brand, their products are usually really good quality and they have a great range of different product ranges aimed at trying to ignite the create spark in your little ones. I always buy Crayola felt pens, as they seem to be the only ones that last for any length of time at all and I used their crayons when I was a child.
I was therefore thrilled when my daughter recieved the Crayola Beginnings My First Easel as a Christmas present from a friend of mine. From looking at the box it looked like a great toy and I was sure she would get loads of fun from playing with it.
I got the easel out from the box and removed all the packaging which was quite a battle in itself. I could see that it was a little easel made from plastic and in bright vibrant colours. There were two surfaces however they were both completely different. One side had a mess-free water-drawing surface with a little plastic wand attached on a string for drawing , while the other side had a mess-free gel surface which you drew on by using the 3 egg shaped stampers.
I'm not kidding it literally took me 30 seconds to determine that this toy was absolute 100% complete trash. It just seemed likte a cheap rubbishy attempt to do a good idea. The string on the plastic want wasn't long enough for my daughter to draw properly and the gel side just didn't work. You could make a slight indentation to it but only if you pushed down really hard and it certainly would allow the child to be at all artistic.
It's just a really rubbish toy and I feel really let down by crayola and guilty that my friend spent her hard earned pennies on it. I'm really bad for hoarding my girls toys and being a bit rubbish at packing them away but this went straight in the bin. If you want to buy this peice of junk, it will set you back about £15.
I was really excited last Christmas when I found the Crayola Beginnings My First Easel on the Amazon website for the bargain price of £11.99. I had been searching for some kind of easel for her for a while, but because she was still little I didn't think that upright ones were such a good idea until she was a bit bigger.
The easel is a table top easel and comes with four different activities and two ways of displaying the easel. It all sounded too good to be true, and from a trusted make such as Crayola I really couldn't go wrong.
When the easel arrived I had a quick look at it before putting it away for Christmas. I remember when my daughter opened the box with a little help from me and Daddy, her little face lit up. He loved drawing even at a young as that she was last Christmas, so we knew this was going to be a hit with her.
As we set the easel up, we realised it already came pre set up and could be positioned as a table top easel or could be hung on the wall if you chose to, there was a cute little hole in the plastic ready to hang with a picture hook or something similar..
Instantly I could tell the plastic, whilst brightly coloured wasn't as sturdy as I would like it for a one year old to be playing with it. It stayed in the correct position when put together, but one knock from an unsteady toddle sent it flying across the table and all the bits with it.
I remember raising my eyebrows at my partner on Christmas morning. I had thought I had bought a great product but it wasn't looking too great five minutes after opening it.
The easel has two sides to it, one being a gel filled substance which acts like a doodle board that you can wipe clean after use and the other has a magic water surface that acts like the aqua draws and will dry clean after a while.
To use the gel filled side the child has to use the shapes that are supplied with the easel. There are little egg head shapes that have a square, circle and triangle on the bottom of them. This is designed to encourage children to learn the different shapes as they press them into the gel surface leaving an imprint behind them.
Before we first used the gel surface I could see there were marks where it has possibly settle in transit. Undeterred I tried it first and found I had to press really hard into the surface to get an imprint of the shape to show. I am an adult though and could press hard at the same time as supporting myself on the back of the easel. My one year old was going to have no hope. You guessed it the easel went flying as she tried to press the shape into the surface.
Never mind on we went to the water pen side. This was bound to be better as she already loved her aqua draws so this could be a permanent fixture that she could play with all the time. The pen was attached to the easel with a string, and it didn't even reach the top of the board. I groaned to myself when I realised this as how is a child supposed to be creative when they can't use the tools provided correctly.
The pen needs to be filled with water obviously and when used on the board it shows up in rainbow colours. This was pretty but we also found that the pen was a bit leaky so there were not proper lines being drawn even by an adult, more dribbles down the board.
Back to the last function of the easel, and this was a shape sorter. We wondered where this was to start with until we realised the shapes that go onto the gel surface can be put back into the holders and this acts as a shape sorter. I was beginning to think Crayola had lost the plot by this time and were really grasping at straws to make the product multi functional and failing miserably.
The easel stayed out for about a month but my daughter got so frustrated with it as she couldn't get anything to work properly on it through no fault of her own that we soon put it back in the box. It's a shame I didn't try it out when I bought it as it would have gone straight back to Amazon.
Overall I really would suggest you stay away from this product. It's not worth any money let alone the £11.99 I paid for it at the time. The plastic just isn't string enough to act as an easel to start with without the extra features being so poor it lets the whole product down.
Considering this has been made by Crayola, it's a real let down by the company as I can usually not fault them at all.
My First Easel is a toy from the Crayola Beginnings range. The range is designed to "help develop toddler's motor skills and self-expression" and is aimed at 1-4 year olds.
I first saw the easel in a magazine a few weeks before christmas and thought it looked quite good. When a family remember asked what my daughter would like for christmas I prompty pointed the easel out to them.
My daughter was 20 months at the time and My First Easel is recommended for children 18 months and over.
Our easel was brought from Boots for £15.00 but was also available at Toys R Us, Amazon.co.uk, Woolworths, John Lewis, Debenhams and Tesco Direct, all for around the same price.
When my daughter unwrapped it on christmas day she was very interested and wanted to play with it right away. We took it out of it's colourful cardboard box and I was suprised at how small it was. I knew it wasn't a full size easel but it was literally just a lap sized toy, and once the border was taken into consideration the drawing areas themselves were very small indeed. At it's widest point the easel is 12 inches but the drawing areas are only 8 inches. The easel is in 2 halves (I'll explain this in a minute), the total length of the easel is 21 inches - one side being 10 inches and the other being 11 inches. The drawing areas are only 5 inches tall. Because of the size it means it's quite portable and it also has a handle at the top to easily carry about, but for £15 I would have liked to have seen more drawing space.
The easel can be laid out flat (to play on a table, floor or lap), put into a triangle shape (with an activity on each side) or folded up for easy storage. To move the easel into your required position there are 2 yellow buttons on the top of the easel, both of these needs to be pressed in whilst adjusting the easel and released when positioned to lock it into place. If both of the buttons aren't pressed then the easel won't budge. Right, now time for some mathematics! 2 yellow buttons require 2 hands, and 1 easel positioning requires 1 hand, so how many hands is that? Well 3 of course! And how many hands does the average human have? Uh.. oh yes, 2! Yes you've worked it out already, and if I have trouble performing this what should be easy task then I'm not quite sure how a toddler is ever meant to grasp it. The buttons are also too hard for toddlers to press in.
These next parts are going to be hard to explain but bare with me...
On one side of the easel the drawing area is a yellow background (plastic I presume) covered over by a thick blue gel with a transparent sheet over the top (so the gel cannot escape). The idea is to put pressure on the blue gel so that it makes way and shows the yellow colour underneath. You can draw and write on it and the easel also comes with 3 stampers to stamp shapes on it. The stampers come in circle, square and triangle and look like little eggs from the top. The stampers can be stored in a little green plastic shelf which is situated on the bottom of the easel. The stampers allow me to teach my daughter shapes which is good. To get rid of the drawings you need to gently wipe your hand over the gel so it all evens out and the yellow covers up again. This isn't a problem for me but yet again it isn't easy for a toddler to do - my daughter comes to me every time she needs to get rid. I suppose the concept is quite good and unique and I suspect most toddlers would be interesting in it, however I don't think it would ever make more than a minute or twos worth of fun. It's quite restrictive and repetative.. blue, yellow, blue, yellow!
On the other side of the easel is a big white drawing area (we'll call this 'magic paper' for the benefit of the review). There is also a plastic pen which is attatched by a piece of string to the bottom of the easel and a compartment with a plastic orange lid/door - the compartment is about 4 times too big for the pen, the string is too short and the lid/door has fallen off! The pen needs to be unscrewed and filled with water, then screwed back on and the pen should then be used on the magic paper. The magic paper has a multi coloured swirly background underneath so when you draw on it with the water pen you should be able to create multi coloured pictures and when the water dries up (should take a couple of minutes) the pictures dissapear and you can start again. The problem is the pen doesn't work at all - when you try to draw or write on the magic paper nothing happens, no water comes out. Don't think that giving the pen a little shake and a little tap on the magic paper will do the trick because instead the water just pours out and within a matter of seconds the white has turned to multi coloured and the whole thing is saturated. The 'magic paper' now has permanant water stains on and has wrinkles in. It also is totally undurable - the pen has made scratches all over the magic paper - some of the scratches are white and grey but most of them have gone through to the multi coloured background. The whole thing is basically ruined.
I recently visited Amazon.co.uk to see what other people had to say about this product and to get a sanity check to see if I was overreacting. I was expecting to see a lot of positive reviews which would have probably meant I had an easel from a dodgy batch, but no, on arrival at Amazon I was greeted by a whole long list of 1 stars and angry comments.
I always thought of Crayola as an inovative and trusted brand but I'll be thinking twice in future.
It's sad because had this toy been any good then I actually think my daughter would have really enjoyed it (she often tries to play with it and asks me to fill up the pen with water in some hope that it will work!) - I think it needs to be taken off the shelves, given a serious rethinking and then released again when it's up to scratch. My advise would be to buy an aquadraw by Tomy or just use good old pens, paper, crayons, pencils and paints - it's messier but a lot more fun.
Basically I wouldn't recommend this to anybody. It is a waste of time, money and is a total dissapointment - infact the only good thing to come out of this product is writing this review and hopefully stopping somebody else making the same mistake as me!
What a shame I didn't have the receipt...
Double-sided easel with a water drawing surface on one side and a gel surface on the other. Includes shape sorting and stamper activities.