Product Type: Insect Lore Child Development
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P is for Peppa Pig...D is for Disappointing
Inspiration Works Peppa Pig Fun Phonics
Member Name: jo1976
Inspiration Works Peppa Pig Fun Phonics
Advantages: Educational aspect, entertaining for toddlers with bright lights and sounds
Disadvantages: Stickers peel off easily, games are repetitive and too similar, no volume control
My boys have all loved the Peppa Pig TV series, shown regularly on Nick Jr and Channel Five. Even adults can't fail to love the cute Peppa Pig and her little brother, George.
I purchased this Peppa Pig branded Phonics game as a Christmas present for my middle son when he was three years old. At that point, he had just been introduced to the phonics system of learning sounds and letters at nursery so this system seemed like an ideal gift, particularly as I picked up at half price for £9.99. This game sounded really promising as it includes eight different modes of phonics-based learning games so it has the potential to grow with a child from the recommended age range of three to five years old.
Unlike some Peppa Pig branded products, this game is suitably unisex, being made from a cheery bright yellow chunky plastic. It is light enough for a child to carry about, with the help of the in-built handle, but robust enough to withstand life in our toy box alongside regular falls and generally being bashed about. There is one major disappointment with the overall quality of this toy, however, and that is the use of stickers to represent all of the letters and the different game modes. These stickers did come ready applied but are of incredibly poor quality and become loose very easily. I noticed the first sticker becoming loose within a week of purchase and that was without any real game play whatsoever. I will admit that my boys can be quite rough with their toys but these stickers just come away without any deliberate attempt to remove them, which is very disappointing for a game with a supposed RRP of £20. It would be much better if the letters were actually printed on the game itself.
Having owned this toy for a couple of years now, we are missing several stickers which does make it more difficult to play the games properly. It is perhaps just as well that my middle son very quickly lost interest in the game and never really concentrated on the activities in the way they were intended to play - preferring just to press buttons at random and switching between different modes rather than concentrating on completing any one activity.
One of the main issues with this game is that many of the activities are very repetitive and also very similar to each other, so despite having eight different modes there aren't really as many different elements to the game as this might suggest. Many of the modes involve the child pressing one of the keys and the game will say what the letter sound is and what the items pictured is. There are a few different variations in this game but they are fairly similar and not interesting enough to maintain my son's interest for any length of time, even now he is five years old and developing into an independent reader.
The most complex activity is a mode which involves the child actually spelling out individual words. Whilst this is clearly educational, I think this is a little ambitious and too challenging for a child within the age range likely to still be interested in the Peppa Pig branding. Whilst some of the words are fairly simple, such as Cat and Dog, it also includes far more complex words such as Guitar which I think would be a challenge to children much older than the target age range here.
One of the positives of this game is that there is a clear link between the toy and the Peppa Pig programme with the images used and the spoken voice being clearly recognisable as Peppa herself. Lots of the popular characters from the series are also featured on the stickers. The drawback to the use of Peppa Pig's voice within the game is that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish exactly what is being said, which can be confusing for children. My son was always adamant that he was being asked to find a 'lap' rather than a 'lamp' and I must admit that Peppa's voice does make it sound more like 'lap.' He was also confused by the game in which he has to find the first letter of particular words, initially being convinced that he was being asked to find the fourth letter!
The one saving grace for this toy has been that my youngest son absolutely loves it. He has enjoyed pressing the buttons and twisting the dial (repeatedly) from around nine months of age. He clearly doesn't appreciate the educational element of the game, even now at two years old, but remains fascinated by the flashing lights, the familiar Peppa Pig images and the fun sound effects and music. I think there is some merit in a child as young as this using this toy as I often observe him pressing the buttons and repeating the sounds and words to himself, helping with the development of vocabulary and recognition of sounds. In all honesty, my youngest son has had by far the most use out of this game and, for that reason, I would suggest that the minimum age recommendation is slightly too high and three and can see no reason why this shouldn't be used by a much younger child, particularly as the child is likely to outgrow the toy long before their fifth birthday.
From a parent's perspective, the lack of a volume control is a little irritating as I do find this toy to be very loud and the music can get more than a little grating, particularly when repeated over and over again by a toddler! The game also makes a particular sound whenever the wrong key is pressed so it makes this sound very frequently when played with by a two year old. Fortunately, the dial does have an 'off' setting and, despite needing three AA batteries, these seem to last a long time and have only needed to be replaced once.
This phonics game has recently been produced in a new shape but both the new and this original version are available on Amazon for a similar price. (This version is currently £15.29 and the newer style is £17.95.) In all honesty, I wouldn't particularly recommend either version as I don't think it has enough variety to maintain an older child's interest for any length of time. Younger children may well enjoy playing with this but there are other toys on the market specifically designed for toddlers that are just as good if not better. In either case, the poor design and quality of the stickers makes me reluctant to recommend this game as it becomes damaged far too easily.
Summary: A poorly designed toy with little to maintain the interest of a child within the target age range
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