You’ve probably seen Melissa & Doug’s dress up and stamp sets for girls. Ideal for kids aged 3 and up, they all help explore imaginative play, dressing up, and getting artistic with everything from pencil crayons to ink stamps. And, of course, satisfy every little girl’s obsession with everything princesses.
All of the products employ Melissa & Doug’s signature wooden construction, and range from colourful character magnets, to a stamp collection, sticker and colouring pads, peg puzzles, and magnetic dress up sets. Each piece is incredibly detailed, and has a sort of collectible feel.
While the characters in sets like the Disney princess wooden magnets are not exactly fully three-dimensional, you can easily hold them upright to play, whether it’s re-enacting a scene from Snow White, or making your own creative stories as Cinderella gets ready for the ball. And they are sturdy, which means they can handle the rigours of typical preschool play.
In all of the toys, it’s about letting kids explore their creativity, and create their own scenes. For example, with the 200-piece reusable sticker pad, the kids can select from five glossy backgrounds to make their own scenes and stories. Then, just peel the stickers away when they’re done, and start all over. Ideal for kids aged 3 and up, it also helps with fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, narrative thinking, communication skills, and creative expression. It’s great for road trips and traveling, as well as quiet at-home play.
The Jumbo Colouring Pad adds a permanent element: the ability to colour in various images of princesses. Then, easily tear them out to frame and display on the wall or refrigerator.
I had the chance to try out two sets at home: the Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Magnetic Dress Up Set, and the Disney Princess Wooden Stamp Set.
Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Magnetic Dress Up Set
It comes with two characters clothed in their modest undergarments, plus a stand to keep each upright. Then, select from the various magnetic clothing items to dress each doll up as you like. There are everything from tops and skirts, to dresses, shoes, gloves, hairbands, tiaras, and even items they can hold in their hands, like an apple or flower.
My 3-year-old son and I enjoyed taking one girl each, then sitting face-to-face, Battleship style as we each dressed our character. Then, we did the big “ta-da” reveal. With 40 pieces in all, you can make endless combinations, and style things up or down.
It’s a great way for kids to learn how to match patterns and colours, and figure out how to position pieces properly to create a full look. It also helps them consider context – for example, you wouldn’t put a pair of clogs with an evening gown. Or would you? It also allows them to express their individuality and get creative.
The whole set comes in a nice wooden box with compartments to neatly store everything. However, there’s no cover (it comes wrapped in plastic) so you might want to find a plastic bin or box to store all of the items once the set has been opened. Particularly if you have smaller kids, since there are some very small pieces in the set.
Melissa & Doug Disney Princess Wooden Stamp Set
Melissa & Doug makes a standard princess stamp set, which incorporates imagery like a horse, tiara, carriage, magic shoe, wand, and, of course, princesses. But there’s something about a Disney-specific line that will add another level of excitement for the kids.
With the Disney princesses set, kids aged 4 and up can get their hands dirty beautifying pictures with stamps and ink and coloured pencils. Actually, there isn’t much to get dirty, as you have to press pretty hard on the ink to get a trace of the image onto a piece of paper. And the two-colour stamp pad uses washable ink, so there’s no worry should your child get over-excited and decide to stamp up her wardrobe with detailed imagery of her favourite Disney princesses.
The set includes 9 wooden stamps, 5 coloured pencils, and the aforementioned stamp pad. The pieces can be easily picked up using the handles, which are designed for easy gripping by small hands.
Keep in mind that you will need to provide your own paper. My son enjoyed stamping away and creating photos on standard pieces of construction paper, as well as on big white sheets of paper on his Melissa & Doug art easel. A great way to play would be to first draw a picture using the pencil crayons – maybe a castle or ball – which come in soft, pastel colours like light purple and baby blue. Then, stamp outlines of the princesses, including Jasmine, Cinderella, Snow White, and Ariel, plus roses and a horse and buggy to liven up the scene. The kids can explain what’s going on as they create the scene. Maybe it’s a re-creation from the actual movie or story. Or maybe they’re making their own story up as they go. Either way, it’s a great way to encourage imaginative play.
What might have made this set better is the inclusion of a few sample pics on paper that kids could stamp onto. Without that, it really pushes kids to create their own, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And, like the dress up set, while the wooden box is sturdy, there’s no cover. That said, it would fit perfectly flat on a bookshelf, ready to pull out whenever it’s time to play. On the edge are three princess faces, plus the Disney and Melissa & Doug logos, making it easy to find among a sea of books and other toys.
All in all, both sets are great toys that will provide hours of creative, imaginative play for kids aged 3 or 4, and even up.
Check out the full selection of Melissa & Doug toys available at Best Buy Online.