Product Type: Leapfrog baby toys
Newest Review: ... Each corner of the table has different features and activities so your baby will never get bored. ***Features*** Table has two modes -... more
LeapFrog Learn and Groove Bilingual Learning Table
Member Name: sandemp
LeapFrog Learn and Groove Bilingual Learning Table
Advantages: Lots of fun and educational activities, Freddy loves it
Disadvantages: Slips about a bit too much
At thirteen months, Freddy is slightly delayed in as far as his gross motor skills go, so I've been looking for toys that encourage him to stand. When I saw that Amazon were selling the Leapfrog Learn And Groove Activity Table at £20 below the manufacturer's recommended retail price of £34.99, I couldn't help but buy it. Freddy had loved his Learn and Groove Activity Station so I had high hopes that he would love this just as much.
==Groovy Baby - A Parent's View==
The Leapfrog Learn And Groove Activity Station comes supplied in an oversized, open-faced cardboard box. Although it's very easy to remove the table the packaging, I do feel there is a little too much cardboard. Come on Leapfrog, save a tree or two and reduce the packaging. I really appreciated that there were none of those horrible plastic ties to untwist and that it took mere seconds for me to remove the table from the box. Even better, I didn't even need to install batteries, a demonstration set of three AA batteries are supplied and these are still going strong after a week of intensive play. As this can be used as either a table or play tray, the four legs are not attached when this is taken out of the box, but the legs are very easy to click into place and just as easy to remove.
The tray/table top is approximately 37cm square and features an amazing number of different activities. In fact according to Leapfrog it features more than 40 learning tunes (although I must be honest and state that I haven't counted how many different tunes there are). The stark white background only serves to highlight the bright and inviting activities. What sounds each of the activities produces depends on which of the four modes the table is in. The first two modes are learning and music in English while the second two are learning and music in French. Yep that's right this toy not only claims to help your child learn first words in English, but to also give them a head start with learning French. Switching between languages is fairly easy, with there being a simple slide switch.
Switching the table itself on is also easy with another slide switch that runs through half volume right up to full volume. While full volume is rather loud, half volume is at a perfectly acceptable level, loud enough for the child to hear but not so loud as to drown out the television. Switching between learning and music modes is simple, even for a very young child, there is a book in the centre of the table with a turnable page. One side of the page is decorated with the familiar Leapfrog characters of Violet and Scout playing the drums and a keyboard, while the other side shows Tad and Lily the frogs sitting surrounded by coloured shapes, numbers and letters. What I really like about this 'book' is that it is very obvious which mode the table is in, but what I don't like is that the decorations are in the form of stickers that while very firmly stuck down will eventually peel.
All of the activities are based around musical instruments, which would probably be why it's called the Learn and Groove Activity table. With the table facing towards you, there is a keyboard with four keys in the middle at the bottom. In learning mode pressing on these keys will activate a singing voice stating what colour they are (in English or French), while in musical mode each key will play a short ditty. On the left hand side of the keyboard Tad is holding an electric guitar and pushing down on the strummer not only makes the middle of the guitar spin but also sets off more sounds. I must admit that the "Lights On, Lights Off" this produces in learning mode does become monotonous very, very quickly. However the variety of tunes it sets off in musical mode is large enough that no one tune sticks in the head for too long.
Just above Tad is a microphone that is filled with beads (like a rainmaker) when spun not only rattles but also sets off more tunes in musical mode. As I've said I've not managed to count how many different tunes are played, but there is a very large number including Frere Jacques, Clare De La Lune, She'll be coming round the mountain and The farmer's in the den, so there's plenty to sing along to, even though the table itself only plays the tune. In learning mode spinning the microphone will start the table singing the ABC song and something I particularly like here is the fact that zed is pronounced as zed rather than the American pronunciation of zee. My French is patchy at best, but it the pronunciation in French mode also sounds pretty authentic.
Just above the microphone in the top left corner is a drum set consisting of three different coloured shapes that are all different colours. When in musical mode each of the shapes plays a different beat, while in learning mode pressing on them will make the table say what colour it is before naming the shape. Again the voices are clear and while in English mode the English is indeed English and not American. In French mode, the voice is also clear and the pronunciation sounds right to my GCSE standard ear.
Taking up the rest of the top of the table, Lily the frog is playing a saxophone and if you operate the slider she will count to ten (or dix) in a sing-song voice, while in musical mode she'll play a very short, jazzy tune. Just below Lily on the right hand side there is a small flap that opens to reveal a little hidey-hole. But that's not all it does, opening and closing the flaps will also set off a few first words all of which introduce opposites. There's open, close and hello, goodbye, in either English or French (depending on the language mode). The final activity is just below the flap in the bottom right hand corner and is a xylophone. Sadly, this xylophone doesn't work by banging on it, instead the beater works by sliding up and down, which once more sets of some first words while in learning mode. This time, we have up, down and high, low in the same sing-song voice. What I particularly like about this is that these sounds are very familiar to any child that has previously owned the Learn And Groove Activity Station. In musical mode the xylophone simply plays ascending or descending scales.
What I, as a parent love about this toy is that there is such a large number of different sounds that it's very rare that one particular sounds is constantly replayed. There is the occasional time when Freddy will become fixated on a particular activity though, the green circle seems to be a favourite at the moment and when this happens it does start to turn my brain just a little mushy. I also like that because it's so easy to remove the legs, I can easily store this table by leaning it against the wall. I also love that this is light enough for me to be able to easily move it from room to room or even outside. Finally I like that it's fairly easy for me to clean the table, although it cannot be immersed in water (electrics and all that) it's easy to wipe with a cloth and antibacterial spray.
Overall as an adult, I would give the Leapfrog Learn And Groove Activity Table five stars out of five, especially at the price I paid for it. But it's not just my opinion that counts...
==Bopping Baby - A Child's View==
Freddy was just over a year when he received this table and as I said right at the beginning he has a delay in his gross motor skills, meaning that while he could sit independently and had started to crawl he wasn't yet able to pull himself up to standing. Although he couldn't (and still can't) stand on his own, he did (and does) love to stand and I do everything I can to help him do so and encourage him to start pulling himself up. Because of this we spend some time each day playing with it as a table and then remove the legs for him to use it as a floor toy.
With the legs attached the table stands approximately 32cm high, which to be honest is a little low for my taller than average little man, meaning it really doesn't provide him with any support while he is standing. I really can't say that this is a fault in the table's design though as the instructions do state that the table should only be used by steady walkers and on the 80th centile, Freddy is somewhat larger than most other children his age. What I do think is a design fault is how easily the table slips, even on a carpet. It took Freddy all of a minute to realise that he could push it away from him, meaning that if I hadn't been there he would have ended up flat on his face. So while the table is sturdy enough to take the weight of a child leaning on it, the legs could do with a non-slip surface so that the table doesn't slide all over the place.
Being a child that loves music and thinks that pressing buttons is the height of fun, it's no surprise that it didn't take Freddy long to realise that the table combined two of his favourite activities. Having previously played with the activity station, using the book to change mode was a familiar concept to him and this was first activity he spent time with. The page is the perfect design for a young child to turn and has taken a lot of abuse without any sign of being damaged. Depending on how tired he is Freddy will play with this while standing for a good ten minutes pressing buttons, opening flaps and operating sliders, with a grin on his face the whole time. The absolutely sweetest thing is when he sets of a tune going and then starts wiggling his bum and singing along.
When used as a floor toy, which is most of the time at the moment, this is one of the first toys that Freddy will make his way to in the morning. Although he is generally very good at switching toys on, he does find the fact that there are two switches a little confusing, meaning that I do have to turn the toy on for him. The good thing is that I can leave this on all day, knowing that it make random noises in the attempt to get someone to play with it. (Don't you just hate it when electronic toys get lonely). Although Freddy will play with all the activities, he definitely has his favourites. He especially likes to spin the microphone, which sets off a song that he dances to, the really cool thing is that if the table is in learning mode, then he will change it to musical mode for this and then after each tune has finished, he'll once more spin it.
Freddy also loves the drums, but with these he prefers them in learning mode, where they tell him the shape and colours and it's really surprised me that he is actually learning from these. How do I know this? Well, earlier today he was playing with the table on the floor and I happened to mention how he'd been pressing the green circle over and over the day before. He obviously heard me, and pressed the circle before giving me a look of triumph. So while the repetition the day before had slightly done my head in, it obviously taught him something.
While Freddy can't tell me his opinion of this table in words, he can show me in actions. So as this is a toy he'll play with for extended periods of time and one he'll make a bee-line for in the mornings, I would say it's safe to say that he loves it. In fact as this was a toy he played with for most of yesterday afternoon while out in the garden, I think it's safe to say that at thirteen months he'd also give it five out five.
==Learn Baby - Educational View==
Although all toys will help you child learn new skills (no matter how basic the toy), Leapfrog pride themselves on going just that little bit further. I must say that the learning opportunities with this toy are quite impressive. At the youngest limit of the recommended age scale of six months the child will be using this as a floor toy and most of the counting, colours, and first words will be lost on them. But emerging fine motor skills are instantly rewarded as pressing on buttons, opening flaps, spinning and pushing levers are rewarded with lights and sounds.
As the child gets older the table still provides plenty of stimulation and helps them not only improve their fine motor skills but also rewards other skills. Problem solving and memory are encouraged as they learn which page the book needs to be on to make the table produce certain sounds. Colours, shapes, and first words are introduced and the repetition does help them to learn, as Freddy showed us this morning. I would perhaps have said that the table does help encourage the child to stand, but it's not actually designed to be used as a table by the unsteady walker, meaning that adult supervision and help is required (not that that's really a hardship).
As the child nears the maximum recommended age of three, the concepts of opposites that this introduces can only give them a head-start with nursery and pre-school, while the few French words will possibly give them the head-start in languages. I'm not saying that this toy is anyway a substitute for spending time talking about these concepts with your child. But I do know that very young children are like sponges absorbing everything around them, and although they can't necessarily tell you that they are learning, they suddenly amaze you with what they've learnt.
As to the recommended age range, well I would say that the lower limit of six months is just about right as a floor toy, as it can be accessed while the child is either sitting or laying on the floor. The complete design of the table as a floor toy is extremely safe, there are no sharp edges or small pieces and the battery compartment is securely fastened with tiny screws. Although the table hasn't been played with by a three year old, Freddy's two year old friend has also enjoyed playing with it.
==Bye, bye Baby - Final Words==
This is yet another fantastic toy from the Leapfrog Learn and Groove range and a toy that Freddy adored from almost the first moment he saw it. What I really like about this toy is that while it's suitable for a six month old, at thirteen months Freddy loves to play with it (and is learning from it) and yet his two year old friend also loves it. So unlike many toys suitable for younger babies, it's not going to be forgotten once they reach toddler hood. As to whether it's helped with encouraging Freddy to stand (which was why I bought it), well I can see a definite improvement as he reaches for the activities and doesn't even realise that I'm no longer holding him. So, Freddy and I are agreed that this deserves a resounding five stars out of five and are recommending it to all Mummies and Daddies of babies and toddlers from six months upwards.
Summary: A must have toy