“ Age: 3 Years+ / Type: Music „
My 3 year old got a small musical keyboard in her last birthday and was extremely disappointed when it failed to produce any sound. She really is fond of anything that produces musical sounds.
Since she is a big Dora the Explorer fan (like so many other little girls and boys out there) we decided to buy her the Dora the explorer keyboard , which was luckily half-priced at £19.99 at Argos on boxing day.
The instrument comes boxed in a huge attractive , red recyclable cardboard-box .
The toy itself is of a lovely bright colour ( nice mix of red , orange, yellow , turquoise and purple ... I think it is also available in a blue-yellow-red get-up too) and is lightweight enough for a 3year old to haul around (my one keeps taking it up and down the stairs whenever she fancies us as an audience).
The keyboard is placed on its own small stand (roughly at 2' height) and comes with a cute round seat for the kid to sit and play on.
There are two star shaped buttons, one to control volume and goes through from very low to a very high but bearable volume and another steps up through a variation of tempo and is really great.
The best feature of this toy is a detachable microphone which is of a very superior quality and doesn't produce crackling unless when nearly pulled off from its socket(something a small child might end up doing quite often).
The keyboard comes with a demo mode which plays a few pre-recorded pieces has recording and playback features ( does not record child's voice ..only something played on the boards itself).
The actual keys are well spaced over a 1.5' width and there are 21 combination settings to play from like piano, harp, organ, guitar trumpet, violin, bass-drum etc that can be played on slow rock, disco, samba, blues, waltz and several other beats and rhythms .
There is a dj spool too that adds great djing effects. The boards lights up when being played too.
**Instructions and assembly :
There is a sheet of instructions provided in the box and the instructions are very clearly written.
The item required minor assembly which should be really easy for any adult ...as for me my 3 year old was intent on helping me so we spent 5 mins doing it instead of the 3 mins it should have taken.
It requires 2 AA batteries(not included) , which is again easy to pop in.
** How it aids in development:
My little one tries guessing what tune is being played on the demo mode and most little ones will be doing the same.
Its great to see my little one and her friends singing rhymes on the mike and thumping on the keys .They try to guess which key when pressed plays what sort of instrument which is really brilliant .
This is specially a good start if a child goes on to take musical instruments training later on in life.
** Our opinion:
Well my little one couldn't wait for the packet to opened and then batteries inserted...she quickly brought out her monkey and declared 'boots and I are going to make some music and dance'. It was dead easy to set up , even with a three year old helping .
I thought the microphone would be very loud but my neighbours haven't rung up to report us as ASBO's yet and to be honest this is the best part of the package ...and the look on my daughters face was worth looking at when I tested it out and for the next 3-4 days she even wanted it on her night stand when sleeping .
I had expected her to ignore it like she does all her toys after the initial interest wears off but this hasn't happened yet as there is a lot to explore and learn each time.
She is only little and does cheat and switch on the demo mode whenever she is showing -off but she also loves listening to various tunes my dad plays(In my opinion he is great at it) and tries to copy him.
She has learnt to play the 'do, re, mi... ' keys within 5 days which shows that it could be good if a child is naturally musical and we might just have given her a shove in the right direction by buying her this instrument.
The instrument doesn't auto shut down but goes into a standby which saves batteries and battery usage as such has been ok (it hasn't been in use for that long so time will tell how it goes really).
I would rank the overall build of the keyboard to be very sturdy and right for stubby tiny fingers as the keys are quite chunky and well spaced.
The dj spool adds a bit of extra interest for children and scope for role play.
If you have an enthusiastic tiny dj at home like mine who swings to the music , you would agree that the seat is a bit small as they keep falling off it while actively composing , a slightly larger stool would have been better.
This toy is good value for money( when bought at £20 not that great if priced at £40 ) and the tunes are all new and not tinny or repeatedly irritating like those in other toys.
It would have been very nice if the recording feature allowed for the child's voice to be recorded as well , but I guess you can't have it all.
Though aimed at children in the range of 3-5 I think it is a toy/instrument children will grow up with and have loads of use out of for a few years.
It's a nice way to interact with a child ask them questions about certain notes/sounds, realise what type of music they enjoy and see them enjoying themselves putting their imaginations into words ..and action.... Whats the harm in dreaming for a while that this cheeky off-tuned tiny person in your living room might just end up singing out the ears of the world in a few years time.
**Price and availability:
Usually priced at £40 but we got it at half the price at the winter sale at Argos... saw it being stocked at toysrus and amazon too.
Fun Dora keyboard features multiple rhythms, instrument sounds, volume and tempo control to create your own music.