Product Type: Leapfrog baby toys
Newest Review: ... to my son's collection of musical 'instruments' and it certainly encourages his musical imagination! The Leapfrog Learn & Groove A... more
A groovy guitar from Leapfrog!
LeapFrog Learn & Groove Animal Sounds Guitar
Member Name: Indycat
LeapFrog Learn & Groove Animal Sounds Guitar
Advantages: Lots of features, durable, tunes that little ones love, good for role play.
Disadvantages: Tunes that may annoy adults, some unclear song lyrics.
When friends and relatives asked me for ideas on what to get my son for Christmas last year, I often suggested musical toys as he has enjoyed music and songs from a very early age. (I do slightly regret this now as our house is full of toys which play some very annoying tunes!) Amongst the gifts he received was the Leapfrog Learn 'n' Groove Animal Sounds guitar, which I was pretty sure he'd enjoy playing with as soon as I saw it.
This little guitar is made from very brightly coloured, hard plastic and there is a lot of detail in the design. The neck is yellow, with raised blue frets and blue tuning knobs (these are purely decorative) and at the top of the neck is a large green button, which plays various guitar riffs when pressed. The main body of the guitar is orange, with a red panel on one side in which the on/off switch sits. There are three different modes in the 'on' setting, which you reach by sliding a small green circular button to the left- these modes are counting, animals and music. On the opposite side is a small blue switch with two volume settings (very useful if Mummy or Daddy has a headache!) and a red bilingual switch with an English or French setting. In the middle of the main body is a large wheel divided into five sections, rather like a 'wheel of fortune'. These sections each depict a different type of animal, alongside a number and the corresponding amount of animals.
Four of the sections sit behind slightly frosted plastic, so you can see them but not that clearly. The fifth section sits behind a separate clear window and the guitar will play the relevant animal noise or number depending on which picture appears in this window. To spin the wheel, you need to pull a little lever in the shape of a whammy bar, or as my son prefers, you can just spin the red knob in the middle. The whole of the back is encased in bright blue plastic, with the battery case sitting behind a screw on panel. The guitar takes three AA batteries, which are included. Due to the hard plastic casing of this toy, it is very durable and has withstood the normal amounts of abuse inflicted by an excitable toddler (I have actually just found the quite heavy wooden toy box lying right on top of it and it's without a scratch.)
The on switch is big enough for little fingers to operate, although unlike other similar toys there is no hidden smaller switch which adults can use to turn off the guitar if the tunes really start to grate. Once the guitar is switched on, a female voice sings a song or says a different phrase depending on which mode has been selected. Your child can then intersperse the tunes with riffs from the fret button and various animal noises and numbers by spinning the wheel.
The age range for this toy is suggested from 1-3 years and Elliot received it at 16 months, however safety wise, I would have been happy for him to play with it from the point at which he could sit up unaided. There are no small pieces which could come off, but it would be fairly heavy for younger babies so you'd need to supervise them in case they attempt to clonk themselves on the head with it. In terms of play and learning, I consider this quite a complicated and busy toy for children at the lower end of the age range and Elliot at 18 months tends to play with it more for the musical entertainment it provides.
To get the most out of the educational features of the guitar, you really need to play alongside your child and talk to them about the different numbers and animal sounds, however with this toy, it's not actually very easy to do in practice. Rather than spinning the wheel and sitting patiently whilst I explain to Elliot how many sheep there are in the window and how they go 'baaa', he much prefers to spin the wheel and keep spinning it, with a few riffs thrown in for good measure. This results in a cacophony of guitar sounds, annoying tunes and various random 'woofs' and 'oinks' so that I barely have time to say 'ducks go quack' before the thing is meowing at me. Whilst I'm sure that Elliot will get more from this toy as he gets older, in the meantime I think of it more as something secondary that might help reinforce what he learns from feeding the ducks in the park, or from looking at pictures and story books together. There are also many possibilities for using this toy for role play- we often play in our own little family band with Daddy on guitar, Mummy on trumpet and Elliot on drums (The neighbours must love us!)
I don't really have enough experience to be able to comment in depth on how the guitar fares with children at the older end of the suggested age range, however we've had a few visitors of around 2 and a half and just over 3 recently who both ignored this toy completely, so it may be just a little too young for some children heading for the three year mark.
One final point I'd like to make about the guitar is that some of words to the songs are not very clear at all. I've only recently figured out that one of them is 'I play my guitar, who will sing in my band?' This is rather disappointing for an educational toy, as I would expect all the words to be crystal clear to enable very young children to learn and understand them. Other than that, this toy makes a nice addition to my son's collection of musical 'instruments' and it certainly encourages his musical imagination!
The Leapfrog Learn & Groove Animal Sounds Guitar is available from Leapfrog or Sainburys at £14.99, Tesco currently has them on offer for £11.97.
Summary: A great toy for music loving toddlers, educational benefits with help from parents.
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