Toy Drawing Boards

Magnetic drawing boards come in all sorts of styles and a range of prices, but they tend to do the same basic job. They each come with a screen and a magnetic pen to draw on it with. There are often shaped magnets or ‘stampers’ that come with them. The screen can be drawn on and then wiped clean with a sliding button.

My daughter has owned several versions of this kind of toy, from small hand held versions to larger ones at different ends of the price range. In my opinion, there has been little difference in quality between them all. I’ve outlined the positive and negative aspects of this kind of toy according to my experience of seeing my daughter use hers.

The fact that children can draw and wipe, draw and wipe repeatedly brings about a few noticeable benefits.

Firstly, it saves on paper, (in our case reams of paper). This is good if you don’t have any drawing paper around, and it also makes for less mess.

Because of the fact that they save paper, they are often talked up as being eco friendly, although the environmental costs of the toy production versus the amount of paper it saves would have to be weighed up to verify the truth of this. If it gets chucked out after three months then it probably isn’t environmentally friendly at all. At least paper can be recycled.

To my mind the best thing about them is that they can really bring on a child’s drawing skills. My daughter draws almost every day, she still likes to get paper out and make her mark in other ways, but the drawing board gets a great deal of use. I have seen her pictures improve dramatically whilst she has repeatedly played with one.

As well as using it on her own, my daughter likes to get myself or another adult to draw pictures and she makes up stories around them or ‘colours’ them in, so it can also be used more creatively than just for a child to scribble on.

Another benefit is that they are good for taking on journeys, ours have been used in the car and on the train. They’re also good to take anywhere you need to go where you would like to keep your little one sitting still – waiting rooms, hospital visits etc.

The disadvantages include the fact that children can’t choose the colours they want. There’s a lack of creativity, which is one of the things that tends to go hand in hand with no mess. It’s good for children to make a mess occasionally and the use of paints, chalks and other drawing materials are great ways for a child to express themselves creatively, so drawing boards certainly shouldn‘t be used to replace these things.

Another drawback is that if your child draws something special – you can’t keep it. If they were for example to draw a recognisable face for the first time, then that moment is gone, wiped away, never to grace a fridge door. I have actually photographed a handful of pictures that my daughter has drawn, they were too cute to be wiped.

The pictures can lose definition and when it comes to fine detail things can get a bit blurred. I have yet to find a board on which smaller details don’t turn into smudges.

To sum up: Drawing boards can ensure children get plenty of drawing practice and they can really bring on a child’s drawing skills. They are also a useful way to keep children occupied when travelling, but they don’t have the accuracy of pencils, or a choice of colours and allow limited creative expression. Pictures drawn can’t be kept unless photographed. The quality tends to be similar regardless of the price. Although they save on mess, they can’t replace the fun that comes from using other drawing materials. Overall a good toy to have around, but don’t let it take the place of other creative activities.