Product Type: Leapfrog baby toys
Newest Review: ... were about 18 months old that they worked out how to do this independently. Mode one is number mode when you press each of the numbers... more
From Classical Catterpillar to Rock Bug in the Press of a Button
LeapFrog Baby Counting Pal
Member Name: cmh4135
LeapFrog Baby Counting Pal
Advantages: Versaitile, educational, fun and cute!
Disadvantages: Not that good as a travelling or cot toy, despite claims.
Caterpillar joined our family last Christmas. A present for our son from my parents, it is a gift thatís seen a lot of use over the year and I suspect one that will continue to entertain, educate and enthrall for a while to come.
Counting Pal is an unusual electronic toy as it is a soft toy yet it packs a punch. Pal is a rather cute doe-eyed caterpillar. Each of his five body sections is numbered and, depending on the mode heís set to, perform different tasks be that counting, colours or music. His legs are adorned with pictures of the creatures that are sung about in the counting songs. Heís a very appealing character to both parent and child and therein lies the joy of this toy.
Play modes are selected around the caterpillarís neck via soft-touch buttons. These are indicated on the fabric and it doesnít take long for the child to work out where they are. Operation of the functions contained in each of the five body segments is also by soft-touch button although, from experience, these are harder to find for baby as the button to be pushed is fairly small and, although situated in the middle of each number there is no visual clue as to where it actually is. This has, on occasions led to frustration being shown by my son that heís unable to get the toy to sing.
So, what does the caterpillar sing?
First we have the counting songs, cute little ditties that incorporate animals and flowers into the words. We sing of birdies, butterflies, bees, flowers and ladybirds. The tunes for each song is the same so itís just the words that change. This works well and Iíve found that although my son knows where numbers 1 and 2 are we can use the animals or flowers to get the rest (so I might ask him where the bees are and heíll select number 3). I am particularly impressed with the diction of the singer. Unlike many pre-recorded electronic songs you can actually understand every word that is said. The pace is measured and articulation clear.
The colour songs differ somewhat. These songs take musical styles, opera, rock, barber shop, jazz and reggae and sing the colour of the segments in that style. Itís amusing for a parent and interesting for the child.
Finally, and my favorite mode, we have classical music. Here the various segments will treat us to Mozart, Boccerini, Bach, Vivaldi and Beethoven, each familiar excerpts from well-known works, each introduced by the name of the composer. If itís true that classical music turns babies into geniuses then my soníll be right up with them as the classical music mode seems to be his favorite with Boccerini being right up there! Whether itís a bit much to name the composer who knows but at least, as a parent, you know who youíre getting! If you want a music overdose then thereís also a musical medley mode that will play each of the tunes back to back.
Not to stop there the caterpillar also has interest in its ďlegsĒ (such as they are). Thereís a squeak, a rattle, a crinkle, flowers on a hoop and a bell and the whole thing has Velcro tabs that allow you to fit it to a cot or pram so it really can be a portable toy.
Over the last year Iíve really seen my sonís play develop with this toy. At first, aged about 6 months it was a soft toy that was felt but not really played with. My son seemed to like us ďchasingĒ him with the face of the caterpillar and seemed to respond positively to the music but the interaction was limited. As he gained in mobility he liked to pick the caterpillar up by its handle and carry it round the house. It wasnít really until he was a year old that he was able to find the buttons to operate the songs and from about 14 months that he was able to select the play modes in a meaningful manner. At 16 months this toy is regularly in use. He talks to it and interacts with it. Weíve been able to teach three of the five colours so far (red, blue and yellow) and the first two numbers. Heís also able to identify each of the 5 creatures/flowers.
I do find the clarity of speech particularly impressive. The voice used is an English female voice, probably more received pronunciation than one is used to hearing but its clarity cannot be faulted. I like the fact that the toy is educational and yet still fun as the teaching is delivered in such an accessible manner.
There are a couple of downsides.
Although the toy is not heavy weíve had no success attaching it to either a cot or a pram. On the pram we found that it ended up turning upside down as it rolled around the bar. On the cot the Velcro straps were not strong enough to stop my son pulling it straight off.
The other downside is the battery compartment. As this is a soft toy the batteries are buried inside the body of the caterpillar and accessed via a Velcro-ed hole on the back. My son seems fascinated by this Velcro-ed hole and will open it at every opportunity! The batteries are still safe from him as they are in a plastic compartment secured by a screw so Iím not worried about it from a safety aspect. However, when you come to want to change the batteries (3x AAA) itís actually rather awkward. This is also where the on/off and volume switch lives although the auto-off seems to remove the need to access it very often.
A year ago Iíd not seen this in very many places but it now seems to be widely available both online and on the high street.
However, despite these minor niggles Iíd thoroughly recommend this toy as itís both fun and educational. Itís rather cute too!
Summary: Recommended as a fun, educational toy.
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