I was recently asked by House of Fraser to choose some products from the Arts and Crafts section of their online store to try out with the children in the run up to Christmas. I chose four great products to try out with the children, and here's what we thought!
Play Doh Perfect Twist Ice Cream (£20)
Play Doh has always been very popular in this house, and Harry (5) jumped upon this set as soon as he saw it. He loves watching Play Doh videos on the internet, and this was a set that he had seen demonstrated. It took me a few minutes to set it up, but it was pretty straightforward. It won't be fitting back into the original box though, as it's quite a large set!
There are two main parts to the set which means it's a great one for a couple of children to play with at once. There is one extruder which you use to make the ice cream shape and then a second extruder with a slicer that makes little sprinkles. All around the base and down the sides there are little moulds which you can use to make additional decorations.
The set comes with five little pots of Play Doh. Three of these are Play Doh Plus which was a new product to us. It's softer than normal Play Doh and lighter. This means that it is a lot easier for little fingers to work with and to push through the extruders. Normally I have to help the children with this bit, but with Play Doh Plus even Mia (3) was able to work them easily.
The set also comes with some lovely accessories - dinky little ice cream cones, sundae glasses and spoons. To make an ice cream you place the cone beneath the first extruder. As you pull down the lever the cone spins around slowly to make a nice smooth ice cream shape. Then you place it between the second extruder to make little sprinkles. These didn't stick to the ice cream very well but were easy enough to push into place.
Of course if you want to use the set properly you do need to be comfortable with mixing up the colours, not a problem for the children at all so I just have to let them get on with it! The main extruder was really easy to clean as the Play Doh is kept in a removable section which folds out. The sprinkle part was a little harder to clean as it's all enclosed but when it's dried out I'm hoping it will all fall out.
The thing that I really liked about this set is the role play possibilities. While Harry was having fun actually making the ice creams, Mia was more interested in playing with the finished ice creams, putting in her order and pretending to eat them. There are all sorts of games that you could play and I thought that the little accessories were fab.
Play Doh Disney Sofia the First Tea Party Set (£11.25)
Another set which is fantastic for role play is this Play Doh set from Disney themed around Sofia the First. I chose it with Mia in mind, but I think that Harry will have just as much fun with it!
The set comes with three tubs of Play Doh, including some lovely sparkly pink and purple. It has a large Sofia doll which is covered in little Play Doh moulds. The base of her dress is a tray which you can use with an empty Play Doh tub to make a table. She also has a teapot and teacups. The teapot is a small extruder, so you can fill it with Play Doh to push 'tea' out into the tea cups. Sofia herself is hollow inside, making a handy place to store her accessories. I must admit that I'm not so keen on the small Play Doh moulds myself as I find them difficult to use but it doesn't seem to bother the children, Harry in particular really enjoys making the different shapes. Again, because it has lots of pieces it's a set that more than one child can have fun playing with at the same time. It would make a lovely gift for a little girl!
Disney Princess Fuzzy Felt Craft Set (RRP £10.99)
I have very fond memories of Fuzzy Felt from when I was little, and because Mia loves playing with her magnetic dress up dolls I knew that she would enjoy this set. The fact that it is Disney Princess makes it even more appealing. The set contains a purple background board and over 100 felt pieces spread over four individual sheets. One sheet is in full colour and contains the princess figures (Snow White, Belle and Cinderella) in their modest underwear. Each princess has her familiar ball gown and a few accessories like gloves, tiaras and a couple of items related to their story, for example an apple for Snow White.
Then there are three plain coloured sheets of felt shapes in pink, blue and yellow, with further items to help you tell the stories of the princesses, like woodland creatures, castles and other characters from the stories, as well as some extra bits of clothing and accessories. These coloured sheets aren't quite as nice, it would be better if all the pieces were in full colour, but it doesn't affect the story telling potential of the set.
Mia wasn't so interested in acting out the stories, although that may be because she's not so familiar with the films yet (that will come as she gets older!). She did enjoy dressing up the princesses though, and creating a larger scene with me, particularly with the animals like the rabbit and the cat. It's a lovely little set and I know that we are going to have lots of play out of it.
Disney Frozen Crayola Mess Free Colour Wonder (£6.50)
I first saw a Colour Wonder Crayola colouring book at a friend's house and was completely fascinated. It's a similar concept to the magic painting books that I used to have when I was younger, but it works a lot better. I have no idea how they work, I just know that they work really well! This pack contains an 18 page colouring book which has a nice selection of images from the Disney Frozen film. Then you also have a pack of 5 marker pens. Each marker pen is a different colour (they are chosen to match the sorts of colours that you'd be using for these particular pictures - light blue, dark blue, brown, pink and peach), but magically they all look white when you take off the lid, and on ordinary paper or any other surface they make no mark.
Amazingly however, when you colour in the pages in the book, the paper turns the correct colour - the colour of the pen that you have drawn with! The colours are really bright too, and there is no mixing or running of colours. This makes them perfect for when you are out and about and don't want the mess usually associated with felt tip pens. It's also great for little ones that you aren't quite ready to trust with real pens yet as they leave no mark on furniture, hands or clothes and it really is a brilliant system. Although I chose the set with Mia in mind, Harry is also a big fan of the film and enjoys the colouring just as much, so it's for both of them really!
We had a great time trying out all these arts and craft products, and you can find the full range online at House of Fraser.
We received these items for the purpose of this review, prices correct at time of writing.