I had high hopes for the Vtech Paint & Learn Art Easel. It looks fun, with a happy smiling baby using an electronic pen to “paint” on an electronic board. But, in fact, it was a disappointment.
The largest problem is that it is too high-tech for toddlers, and, at the same time, way too simple. The only activity is pointing a pen at a board. The bright colors and shapes disguise this, but that’s really all it is. The corresponding shapes light up, voice a letter, voice a number, and/or play a song (but not entirely predictably). There is a keyboard at the base of the easel, but, surprisingly, the keyboard plays numbers as easily as notes.
This toy would be a fine addition for a baby who has no parental interaction, no stimulation of adult or child voices, no gentle cooing “that’s right, baby!” as he begins to explore his world. The bright colors are attractive, but don’t be fooled.
You can do much better with a $1.99 watercolor set and a piece of paper.
You can help your baby learn to paint for real when he is a toddler or, certainly, a preschooler. He can learn to express himself, to choose his own colors, to draw, to paint, to create pictures from his very own imagination.
You can provide a 25 cent box of crayons and help him learn his colors.
You can draw shapes together and say, “Yes, that’s a square!”
You can teach him numbers as you count the shapes. You can hug him, sing to him, and tell him that he is loved.
You can do this. You are enough. Don’t think that this world needs high tech toys for babies.
You are enough.