* Prices may differ from that shown
** The mat **
My little girl is Peppa pig mad so when I came across this play mat for just £10 I thought it would be perfect for her. It promises to encourage problem solving skills, and to introduce colours, numbers and shapes which I thought would be fantastic. The age recommendation is three plus which seems about right as little one needs to b able to listen to questions and understand instructions. The mat is very bright and attractive with characters printed all over it. It also includes recognisable things like grandpa pigs train, Peppa Pigs house and a duck pond. All of these details mean that it is easily recognisable to little one, and gives them a sense of familiarity before they even begin playing.
It was very simple to set up simply unfold from the box and insert the batteries. The batteries have actually lasted really well and after a year of use they are still going strong. The there is a small button to turn the mat on and off. There is no volume control but the mat is not overly loud. Everything is said in a clear voice, and as it is the same as the narrator in the series so again it is instantly recognisable to little one. It is well made and can withstand rough play from toddlers which is essential especially when it is made for them to jump over.
I like that it does not plug into a TV and is just a play mat that is simple to use. My little girl can play independently, or you can sit with your child and ask them some different questions. It is also great that it can be wiped clean because of the plastic finish. As young toddlers are encouraged to walk all over the mat it is essential to be able to clean it easily. The mat is a good size so you need a large area on the floor for it to sit. For storage we simple folded it and it fitted inside of our toy box. It does become creased with being folded but not so much so it ruins the pictures or appearance.
There are different modes of play for different games. Little one can choose if they would like to meet the characters, or explore numbers, shapes and colours. Now this seemed fantastic mixing both their favourite character while still being educational. All of the questions are very simple and concentrate on things that are familiar to young children. The mat will ask your child to find Daddy pig, or ask for them to find the red t shirt, and can you find the yellow triangle? Then little one simply has to press their foot on the correct answer, and then they get a round of applause for getting it correct. If they choose the wrong answer then they are asked to try again until they find the correct one. The questions are simple. I would say this limits the age range a little because the questions do become boring as they are so simple. By three most children can recognise shapes, numbers and letters especially such a selected few. For this reason I really think it is only suitable up to five years old max as my little girl is already becoming bored of it.
The major downside with this toy is the sensors for little one to stand on seem to be hugely out of place. If the answer for example id Daddy pig little one has to really stamp there foot around the outside of the Daddy pig picture. Some parts are better than others, but at times the sensors has been a whole two steps off where it is supposed to be. We have tried with shoes on and off, and when my little girl went to bed I did a little investigating. For some of the sensors they seemed to be at least 20 cm away from where the corresponding picture is. Some of the pictures like the pond and ball work perfectly so the consistency of quality of the mat really is disappointing. As you can imagine it really confuses my little girl when she steps on the correct answer but gets no reply. It is even worse when it mistakes it for another picture and tells her to try again. Then Mummy has to explain that yes it is the right answer but the mat is broken.
Unfortunately my children become frustrated with this mat as it tells them they are pressing the wrong button, or just does not work at all. When it is asking the child questions I think it is silly that the sensor pads are in the wrong place, as it knocks their confidence despite them actually getting the answer right. On paper it seems like a fantastic idea. The designers have made this mat a nightmare so for that reason I cannot recommend. This seems to have been taken away from the major retailers for sale and to be honest that is not surprising. I have seen it available in Wilkinson's in recent months, and you can also pick one up on eBay. It does still get used by my little girl once every few weeks but as soon as she remembers the problems she gives up quickly.
Going through the Argos book for Christmas presents is one of my favorite things to do. Last christmas (2009) I was after Peppa Pig things as both my children had grown to love it over the last year. I also wanted learning toys as my daughter would be starting nursery and thought if she had things she loved plus the addition of learning this would be fun for her.
So I came across the Peppa Pig page in the catalogue and saw this step and learn mat. The description made it sound perfect -"This electronic playmat features 4 fun modes for lots of fun learning including numbers, find, colours and names. Answer the questions by stepping on the correct images. The mat features many of the characters from the programme and over 50 phrases for hours and hours of fun."
Sounds great doesnt it for the cost £30 I did have to alter a few things from the gift list as most things were £20 and under.
Off to Argos I went. I ordered the item when it came down even the box made me excited! A very brightly coloured-large-box with the mat on and pictures of it being played and a small explanation of what it does.
Wrapped it and waited for Christmas day to arrive. When it did and my daughter opened this she was over the moon to see Peppa Pig and wanted it open. I then saw on the box in tiny letters that it needed batteries-when I checked in the catalogue it did state it does NOT need them one reason for me picking it! Christmas day and needing batteries does not go together.
So it went away until Boxing day. Opened it-not packaged inside just folded up so no fussy plastic ties and packaging. Put batteries in and laid it on the floor. The mat is PVC and very rustly. At the top there is a small blue speaker and next to it a very tiny button which doesnt say anything on it near it but when pressed this turns on the mat. It starts off with the Peppa theme tune and Daddy pig saying "are you ready" Yes daddy pig "then off we go". The picture on the mat is a park scene with Grandpa on his boat, Miss Rabbit and pedro pony in her balloon, Suzie sheep in the tree house, Grandma pig, emily elephant, zoe zebra and candy cat in the train, Danny dog in the castle Daddy pig in his car, Peppa in the middle jumping in muddle puddles and Mummy Pig and George at the bottom. On each of the characters there is a shape with a number in , i.e. on Peppa theres a BLUE CIRCLE with the number ONE in. Along the bottom theres a pond with 4 cirlces with the different modes in-
Colour shape, Where, Fun sounds and characters. You "step" on these to change modes.
This mat got very creased very quickly -after first play- so now it looks a bit tatty. You dont know if the mats on or off without stepping on it and I dont think the button at the top turns it off it just re starts it. It is VERY basic -"wheres the red star?" "Where is Suzy Sheep?" which then reponds with "well done you are very clever" or "Try Again" and repeats the question.
After the first day of playing my kids have found another use for it-a picnic mat for their pretend picnics! This honestly was the worst present they got for christmas its boring and the sounds very rubbish also-sounds 'fake' and tinny. Wish I had never bothered as the description I found was just mis leading.