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My brother came to visit over Easter and came armed with a bag of Easter gifts for my girls. Along with some small chocolate eggs, he also picked them up some arty stuff. They are both completely obsessed with colouring, painting anddrawing at the moment. While my eldest (4 year old) can be trusted with paints and felt pens, my little one (age 2) still has problems grasping what she can and can not draw upon. I frequently leave the room, only to come back to find little scribbles on the table, floor and even newly painted walls. Therefore I was thrilled to see that he had very cleverly bought her a set of these Disney Princess Aquadraw Mini Mats. I had one of the large Aquadraw mats for my eldest daughter when she was about 18 months old so I understood what was involved with these... basically mess free creative fun. Both my girls have been caught up in the Disney Princess obsession already so I was sure that these would be a complete success. Only potential issue could be arguing over who was going to play with them. This set consist of 4 small mats and one of the magic water filled aquadraw pens. The mat initially look as though they only have a very faint picture on them, however if you fill the pen with water and then use it to draw on the mats.... the Disney Princess scene magically appears. It really is a fantastic concept, the child has the real feeling that the are creating a fantastic picture even if they are very young and have limited pen skills. There is also no mess, the most you will have to deal with is a bit of a drip on the table. We took them out with us that very day to keep my little one entertained while we were having an Easter Sunday lunch. Sh was completely captivated and spent the whole time colouring. As soon as the mat has dryed, it returns to it's previous form and is ready to be used over and over again. Having said that however, they inevitably do pick up marks and stains, my girls mats certainly didn't stay new looking for very long at all as they don't always consider what they are putting them down in. I intended to keep the mats in my little activity bag that I keep for when we are out and about. I though that these would keep them relatively safe and also keep them new and exciting. Unfortunately about a week after my little one received these, she managed to get to them and decided to colour them in..... with felt pen. Result... the whole thing was completely ruined. I am looking to buy them again though however although I will keep them away and only use them when we are out and about as I feel this is where these Aquadraw mats really come into their own. My brother paid an incredibly steep £9 for this set from Hamleys but I believe you can get them from some of the bigger supermarkets for about £6 or £7 which is probably more reasonable.
I bought these for my 14 month old daughter as a Christmas gift. She has been able to use a crayon, pen, felt tip etc since she was quite young but has not quite mastered the fact that you use them on paper or in colouring books...I often find little scribbles on the fridge, on the walls, settees...you name it, she's scribbled on it. So when I saw these, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for her to have a pen in her hand and create no mess! What you get in the pack are 4 mini mats and a pen which you fill with water. The mini mats are made from some sort of plastic type material, I don't know for sure, but I know they are definitely not paper or card! They are quite flimsy thought which surprised me, nothing like the material that the larger aquadraw mats are made from. The pen is quite small and you just screw off the nib and fill with water and screw back on. They are about the size of a chunky crayola pen. The tip is quite thick so when the pen is used it creates a nice thick line, so it doesn't take much effort to completely colour in one of the mats. Anyway, each mat is about 10 x 15cm (I'm estimating here because I don't own a ruler!) in size and each has a different scene from the Disney Princess Range 'hidden' (well it's not actually hidden because you can see it plain as day but it is just very pale) on the page, and as your child colours over it with the special pen, the picture comes to life. At first I thought these weren't very good because as you colour over it with the pen, the colours still seem quite pale, but if you give it a few minutes they really brighten up. The fade again after 5 minutes or so, but it gives the child plenty of time to see the picture before it disappears. Considering I bought these for my 1 year old, my 2 year old has had much more enjoyment out of them and I think has probably used them every day since Christmas. My 1 year old did a little bit of scribbling and then moved onto something else, whereas my 2 year old will complete all 4 mats and then move onto something else, and when they have dried out she usually goes back for a second round. I'm quite pleased I bought them, even if it is the other daughter who is using them, but they do provide clean entertainment for a short period of time, and the beauty of them is that the children don't create any mess whatsoever! And they can be used over and over again. The down side to them is the life-span of the product I suppose, depending on what type of children you have! We have had these for little over two weeks and already the mats are starting to look slightly over used. There are small grease patches on a couple of the mats (such as from chocolate or cake crumbs left on my daughter's sticky fingers). And one of the mats is creased where there may have been an argument between my children about who was going colour that particular mat! And my children generally do look after their toys, so this is not a good sign for perhaps a more destructive child, although if I kept my eye on them a bit more while they were playing, perhaps some of the damage would not have been done...but I don't have eyes in the back of my head!! What annoys me is that you have to choose a character from the TV with these, you can't just get general pictures. I think you have to choose between Night Garden, Teletubbies, Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank, Dora the Explorer...I just hate the fact that nearly all kids toys these days are marked by some TV character!! I bought these from Tescos for £6 or £7 but they are currently available for around the £7 mark on Amazon, depending on what range you choose. I think they are worth buying, despite the damage that may occur in a short space of time, I think kids enjoy seeing the pictures appear and my 2 year old has really made use of them. They would also be ideal for taking on holiday or travelling because they are small and don't take up much space, and make no mess.
My daughter got these for her 1st birthday from my friend and I thought that they may be a little to advanced for her but yet again she proved me wrong. I have 2 older children who sit at the table doing their homework and my little one always wants to be involved so she sits up at the table and while I am helping the others she is drawing all over the table or the walls. Once she got these she happily sat at the table and I knew that my walls were safe. This set included 4 different mats each 17cm x 27cm and were like a piece of thin cardboard. The pictures were all of Disney Princess' which pleased my daughter as her bedroom is decorated in Cinderella as she is her favourite. To use the mats you simply have to fill that small pen with water and as you use it to draw on the mat the picture begins to colour and show up. It is a similar concept to the old magic painting books that you used to get but the best thing is that as they dry the colour fades and they can be used again and again. I have found that these are great for travelling in the car and we have also taking on an aeroplane. I love the fact that if you lose the pen or if other kids want to join in you can use an ordinary paint brush. My only criticism is that if you bend the mats then you cant colour over the crease and that ruins the picture. I think at £5.99 they are reasonable value especially for a young child (1 year +) but I think an older child (4+) would get bored of these very quickly.
My daughter loves these. We originally brought her a large aqua draw mat which was a hit, but these have become a firm favourite in our hours. Suitable from 18 months, these are a great stand by for travel and eating out as you can let the little ones loose on them without the mess (yippee). I have found that they definately help encourage early mark making however, you do need to consider that parents need to get involved with the activity when in use at an early age as they can not 'reveal' the whole picture. As my daughter has grown up (now 3), these still get an outing once in a whilst, now we find it is encourgaing pencil control ready for the writing as she understands that she needs to colour all of the picture to reval the princesses. These mini mats are avaialble in a wide range of characters and definately worth the investment for being out and a about
My two daughters really loved the Tomy Aquadraw that I had bought when my elder daughter was just under two. They are both really big fans of the Disney princesses as well so when last Christmas I saw the Disney Princess Aquadraw Mini mats I thought it would make an excellent stocking filler - which it did and was a great hit with both girls. The Aquadraw is a very simple idea where children can use water filled pens to create art work on special surfaces. It's very easy and what is most appealing to me,as a parent,is the fact there is no mess! Tomy produce a wide range of mini mats which all follow this same simple formula. In our set we got four mats, each roughly about 15 cm square and featuring four disney princesses - Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Jasmine. The mats show a partly completed picture but the rest is magic! The set also contains a special water pen. This is quite tricky for little fingers to fill so it's likely that they will need adult help at this stage. However, that's really the only thing they will need you for so this little set does allow quite young children to create independently. The pen works by unscrewing the foam nib and just holding the main part of the pen under a running tap. It does not take much water at alland then allyou dois screw it back together again and use it like a normal pen. Once the pen is filled it is ready to use. All your child needs to do is to 'colour in' all the areas of the pictures that they cannot see with the water pen. Then, before their very eyes the rest of the picture becomes complete - all in colour! When my youngest daughter first had a go she could not believe her eyes - she really did seem to think it was magic! All four pictures are lovely and exactly as the princesses are in the Disney films. They are all very charming and my daughters love the finished results - so much so that they do not tire of doing them over and over again. And of course, that's the beauty of these Aquadraw mats is that you don't just do them once and they're done - they are designed to be filled in many times! The reason for this is the fact that after a while the scene starts to fade so that by the next time you come to use them they are in the same pristine condition as the first time. I don't really know how it works but the mats seem to have some plastic coating which also seems to add to their longevity. My daughters love these mats because they love the way the pictures magically appear before their eyes. I love them because there's very little fuss and very little mess.Also it's possible for very little ones to successfully come up with a masterpiece. It's a shame they can't keep it but then again they can always do it again! Tomy suggest that these are suitable for children from the age of eighteen months which seems about right to me. You can buy these mini mats from lots of different toy shops and they generally retail at around £6.99. They are a lot of fun and because you can use them time after time - well worth the money!
Keeping fun clean! Includes 4 different Disney Princess scene cards and 1 Aquadraw pen.