We bought this toy at Christmas or at least Santa did as a joint present for ours girls, our eldest is 4 and learning her letters so we thought this would help her with this and our youngest was 15 months at Christmas and it is with the toy having a suggested age range of age 2 and up we thought it wouldn't be long until she would be playing with it too.
Leapfrog toys are very popular and can be bought from the majority of toy shops and of course online too, I bought this from Tesco as they were doing a save a 1/3rd promotion on leapfrog toys before christmas and as the toy sells for about £15 this was a £5 saving which I was pleased with. The Leapfrog brand is one that I am very pleased with and confident in as I have always found them to be educational toys which are fun as well which of course helps a child learn without realising they are.
The toy is made from hard plastic and is mainly white and green in colour which is the usual colours for the Scout range which is a puppy that Leapfrog have used on a number of their toys. The toy is an oval shape at the bottom where there are 26 buttons each one is a white bone shape and each one shows a letter of the alphabet, the vowels are written on in red and the constanants are written on in blue. Above the over keypad there is a curved area which has a slider to turn on and select the play option your child wants, the slider is actually the puppy Scout which I think is really cute. Finally the toy has a carry handle integrated in the main toy which is great as my youngest likes to carry toys way from her older sister and sit on her own to play with them although I think this is more that she is not ready to share toys just yet.
There are four different play settings with this toy so it provides a great range of activities so I was pleased to find this, there are letter names, letter sounds, letter music and find a letter game, each of the settings is on a paw print shape which is coloured brightly either red, yellow, green or purple. I think the way the settings are so bright and friendly makes your child want to discover what the toy does which is great and I know this is the case with both of my girls as they both love to play with it.
Sliding Scout to this option you find he says let's dig up some letter biscuits and then instructs your child to push on a letter button to find out it's name, the puppy's voice is really cute and he will keep encouraging your child to push on the letters and there is a cute little bark to go with it too. When your child pushes on the letter the toy tells them the name of the letter as you would expect it to do however the voice is then of a man which sounds quite boring and I would have thought it would have been nicer said in the same puppys voice. Once the toy has told your child the name of the letter there will either be a little bark or a little tune after it which my youngest wiggles her bum to, it seems she really likes anything that makes a tune. I prefer my eldest not to play on this setting just yet as being 4 she is learning the letter sounds at school and learning how to merge them so I try and encourage her to play on the other options.
When you move the slider across to this option Scout asks you to listen to some letter sounds and to push a letter to hear it's sound so it is pretty much the same as the Letter Names option however when you press the button on this one it tells you the letter name and the sound it makes as well as giving you a word that begins with the sound which I think is really good as it gives your child a backup in the way of a word with the sound rather than just the sound. Sophie plays well in this option and we will sit and point to the letter and see if she can remember the letter sound before we press it to see what the toy tells us, she is actually getting really good with her letter sounds now and can name nearly all of them every time she is asked so I am really pleased with her progress. Emily doesn't seem to like this option quite as much which I think is because there is no barking for her to woof along with or tunes.
Moving the slider along to this option has Scout telling you to make letter music and to push a letter to make music, this option is a little strange, you press the buttons and if you get them in the correct order then the toy will play tunes such as Twinkle Twinkle. You start at a and your child needs to recognise when a note needs to be played twice to make the song sound right, we have actually found from this that Sophie has an ear for music but that isn't a surprise as her Great Grandfather could hear a tune and play it without the need for music and her Auntie has inherited the same talent too. Emily like this settings as she loves any sort of music but she just bangs on the keys to make them make a sound rather than making actual music.
Find A Letter Game
The title really tells you what you are going to do, the males voice asks your child to find the correct letter by the letter name, if you press the wrong button it makes a little beep and tells you what letter you have pressed. When you press the correct button the toy tells your child they have done well. You keep finding the letters the toy asks for and then after a set amount of time which I haven't worked out how long this is Scout will shout time to eat and pretend to eat the the amount of letter biscuits that you have found him. Eventually the toy will change and start asking your child to find the letter that a certain word begins with such as find the letter which bell starts with and stresses the b for your child, Sophie loves playing this game and she manages to find the majority of them in time.
Sophie enjoys playing with this toy and she really likes it when she can answer all the questions and is really proud of herself which is nice to see and of course she gets lots of praise from myself and the toy for getting it correct. The toy is really helping Sophie with her letters and we have progressed now that if the toy asks for the letter that cat begins with she will find it but also point out what the next letters are in the words.
Emily likes to try and take this toy from her sister whenever she sees opportunity, she loves the barking noises and the music settings, there is a large paw button which when on the correct setting will play the abc song and she loves dancing around the room to it. I think it's really funny watching her with it as she looks like she is dancing around a handbag in a club.
The toy has two volume settings which I always like on a toy so when the girls are both playing with noisy toys I can turn the pair of them down. The toy takes 3 AA batteries and are in a battery compartment on the back of the toy which is secured by a screw, we haven't had to replace the batteries in this toy yet and it is played with nearly everyday so I think the battery life is great. I find the buttons can be a little stiff and when we first got the toy I expected them to loosen a little but they haven't although the girls manage the buttons so it isn't an issue. I like how both my girls get something different from this toy and think this toy has had something to do with the improvement of Sophies letters although obviously she is learning these in other ways I think 4 months of play with this toy has helped. I would really recommend this toy and know that although Sophie probably won't have much use for it for too much longer Emily can still get another couple of years of play from it.
LeapFrog is an American founded company. In 1995, Michael Wood discovered that there were no technology based products which could help a child develop maths, writing skills etc. Now there are many handheld, TV/computer based and teddy related products each with the skill to help a young child improve.
*~*Lets Meet Scout*~*
There are a few different character used with LeapFrog products. Scout is the little green dog and he is used on over 10 different products. Scout can be discovered on a few of the handheld games, he has his own eletronic book, phone, magnetic set and many more products.
*~*Learning Our ABC*~*
LeapFrog Scout Letter Discovers (or alphabet explorer as dooyoo calls it) is an electronic learning game which is based around Scout the dog. The basis of the game is for the child to learn the letters, how to pronounce them and recognise them. The game is promoted as being British based due to a British accent being used and also only lower case letters. LeapFrog claim that using this game with allow the child to learn the alphabet, phonics skills and fine motor skills.
Letter Discoveries is aimed at children from age 2 - age 5.
The game is battery operated and 3 x AA batteries are included. They can be accessed by screwing off a section at the back. The device itself is designed to be the ideal shape and size for a toddler to be able to handle. It is curved with no sharp edges, thick and split into well sized sections. A carry handle is placed at the corner for easy dragging around by the child.
The main body of the device is the letter section. This area is green with the speakers being tucked away up in the corner. The buttons containing the letters are white and shaped like doggy biscuits. Each lower case letter is in blue writting with the exception of the vowels which are in red. A large blue button with a paw print is prominent in the corner and is for extra activities.
Another section is based at the top of the device near the handle. Here you will find the volume control offering the option of the device being low noise or high noise. Scout is presented in slider form up here and has the option to slide up his paw printed path from off to 4 other activities which I will discuss in the next part of my review. The weight of the device is apparently 454g and the dimensions are 5.7 x 31.8 x 26.7cm. The device comes packed in a strong, cardboard box ensuring it arrives with you in pristine condition.
*~*On With The Lesson*~*
As I said, there are 4 different programmes with an additional extra via the blue button on the main part of the device. Each programme can be selected by sliding Scout up and clicking him into place.
*ABC - the first section asks the child to push a letter to hear its name. Each letter is said and followed by a little tune. Pressing the blue button here asks you to press your favourite letter, or a red letter etc.
*Letter sounds - this section allows the child to learn how to pronounce the individual letters. Pressing a letter, will result in the letter being said, how to pronounce it and a noise of something beginning with that letter eg b - bells, k-kangaroo etc. Again the blue button adds extra letter find activities.
*Letter Music - here little tunes can be created by pressing different letters. Pushing the blue button offers the ABC song sung by Scout encouraging the child to jump in and participate.
*Scout wants to play - perhaps the last section is for the more advanced child. Here an overvoice asks the child to find a specific letter giving a little countdown as a timer, second chances and praising when the child gets the answer correctly. Once a certain amount of letters have been answered correctly, the child is praised further.
*~*Availability and Price*~*
Scout Letter Discoveries is available in many outlets. Following prices are correct as of today :
www.elc.co.uk - £14.99
www.play.com - £10.49
www.amazon.co.uk - £13.99
LeapFrog is a brand I believe to offer high quality toys and games for children that not only help learn new skills, but also provide fun and enjoyment. My son will be 3 in May and he is quite advanced for his age, he picks new skills and words up really quickly and this is down to mainly us teaching him but also a few select games that he has. For Christmas 2009 (Ryan would have been 19months), he received this Scout Letter Discoveries from his Aunt and Uncle and it has been a hit ever since. The batteries were already slotted in from what I can remember and all I needed to do was pull it out the box and it is ready to play with.
From the moment he started playing with this, he was intrigued and I think the doggy pulled him in as he loves dogs (unlike his terrified Mummy). The design of the device (I cannot think of a better name) is very well made. It is thick and robust but not overly heavy. My son can easily pick this up due to the smooth handle and has been able to do so since he started using this. Although he used this before his 2nd birthday, there is no small parts that could be swallowed and he was always supervised anyway so I had no hesitation in allowing him to use it.
The green and white colours contrast well and stand out. The device is very lightweight and my son finds it comfortably to place on his lap to play. He occasionally takes it out with him in his big buggy and can keep occupied whilst I do the shopping or stand in queues at the post office. He also often selects this to play with before bed and although it isn't as desired now, he will randomly take it out his toy box for something different to play with.
*~*Learning Through Play*~*
Even at 19months, the learning aspect of this device intrigued my son. Whilst we have always been keen on teaching him new sounds and words, this helped so much more. The device itself is now easy for my son to turn on himself. At the younger part of the recommended age group, the slider may seem a bit too stiff to be pushed by your child and this resulted in Ryan becoming slightly annoyed but he can comfortably do it himself now. The volume button offering 2 options is ideal as when he uses it whilst watching TV, he turns it up loud and in bed, he turns it down to suit his own needs!
The voice is soft and sweet sounding and very clear with proper English being used and random woof woofs throughout. If Ryan forgets to turn it off, it will go quiet then woof at him encouraging him to turn it off for peace or play another game. The buttons with the letters on them are quite large and spaced apart reasonbly well. My son only has tiny fingers but even the firmness of them is no a problem as he can press them in. No issues have been raised with colour rubbing off and they feel smooth to the touch.
Ryan does have his favourite sections but often likes to flick through them all deciding what he wants to hear. Normally he plays with this on his own as he doesn't like to get interupted whilst playing but a few times he has allowed Mummy or Daddy to join in and we can learn together and have some quality parent and child time. I will run through the sections a bit more and comment on what we like and don't like so much.
*ABC - this section is very basic in terms of what can be achieved. At first, Ryan would simply press any letter and keep pressing to keep the noise going. Now he is more careful and presses one at a time. Ryan, through using this for over a year now, can identify certain letters and enjoys the little tune that follows each letter. This section is a good starting point but the extra activities via the blue button such as asking the child to pick a letter in the top row, are more aimed at older children.
*Letter sounds - this section is probably been the biggest hit with Ryan. Although he used to just laugh at the sounds of the letters, he has been repeating them for the past 6months or so. Some of products used to reflect the items sound rather weird and make my son giggle. P for popcorn is a good one and the sound quality really comes through here. Ryan often copies certain noises as well as stating the letter and will often return to that letter confirming he knows where to find it on the boards. Again the blue button option here is more for older children as it asks to find a certain letter and Ryan is quite sure about this yet.
*Letter music - this section isn't particularly about learning the letters but more fun and musical. The buttons when pressed make very short noises but when followed with the next letter and carried on, they make up the tune of the alphabet song. Out of sequence though, the sound doesn't make any sense. Hitting the blue button here encourages Ryan to sing allow with Scout as he sings the ABC song. It is clear, consise and very engaging and Ryan happily sings along in tune though missing a few random letters!
*Scout wants to play - this section is more trivial than my son wishes to handle and is certainly aimed at the higher end of the age bracket. The countdown and little tunes encourage the child to find certain letters so me and Ryan do this challenge as a team. Mummy seeks out the button and allows Ryan to press it giving him a satisfying relief when Scout announces he has got it right! He claps and smiles and I feel he will benefit from his challenge in a year or sos time. There is plenty of time to answer and even if the answer is wrong, they don't make you out to be stupid and simple allow you to try again..all about trial and error!
Scout Letter Discoveries is brilliant in more aspects. It is high quality and robust despite being so small and lightweight and has suffered knocks and bumps with no ill effect to the design. The sound omitting is clear and we have yet to require a change of batteries as the sound is still recognisable with no crackling or issues there. This device or toy has encourage my son to learn something new and he has benefited from it as he is now familiar with certain noises and letters though he is still learning.
He has fun playing with this as the song and the addition of Scout allow it not to a boring, all about the learning toy and he will happily play with it either at home or out and about. It is so easy to take this to a families home for my son to play with there and he can share it with his cousins. One thing that does unfortuantely result in a star drop from us, is that although the age bracket is 2-5, some aspects of the learning and playing at too young and some are too advanced which means than my son cannot get the full use out of it. Otherwise an excellent product and well worth paying just more than £10.00 for as it can be passed to other children when no longer needed.
Thanks for reading x
The Leapfrog Scout Letter Discoveries (not Alphabet Explorer as Dooyoo have it titled as) is something I bought for my 2 year old daughter recently, it's aimed for children aged 24 months and upwards so I thought it would be great and educational for her. It's also based on the Leapfrog 'Scout' puppy, which is one of her favourite toys so I was sure she would love this.
**So What Is It?**
It's described as a 'portable learning toy which features Scout the puppy as your child's guide to learning letter names, letter sounds and more'.
It has 4 modes of play, and they are selected via a Scout sliding button across the top of the unit.
The 4 learning modes are:
* Letter sounds
* Letter names
* Letter music
* Find a letter game
The toy also claims to teach the alphabet, phonics skills and fine motor skills.
So basically you have a mini computer which has 26 lower case bone-shaped letter buttons, 1 large paw button, and as mentioned above the Scout slider at the top. So for a 2 year old child it is a very simple toy to navigate and play around with.
**My Daughter's Reaction**
When I gave this to my daughter she was quite excited to see Scout at the top and immediately began pressing buttons and moving the slider thing backwards and forwards. However, that was where the fun ended for her. You see, she is just 2 and has yet to develop an understanding of letters and phonics so this toy is completely alien to her and just not interesting enough to hold her attention.
The toy aims to teach the alphabet and letter phonics, and she is just too young to be interested in this sort of thing. Don't get me wrong, she's an intelligent child - she knows her colours and can count to 10 etc, but learning letters in my opinion (since buying this toy anyway) is for an older child.
And as it happens that older child is my almost 4 year old! Now she has had a whole different experience with the toy, and she will sit with it and play the games and is actually learning from it, something which I have never really experienced from any of these sorts of 'learning toys'. It's the first toy of its kind where I have witnessed some learning actually happening!!
**Can You Have Fun While Learning?**
I will try and briefly describe the different modes and what my daughter has learnt so far.
In this mode Scout says 'Push a letter to hear it's name', so then you can press any letter and a very British voice will say 'R' or 'T' - and that is it. It's very simple, but very easy to do and very easy for an eager child to learn their letters.
This mode helps your child to learn the sounds of the letters. Again, Scout will say 'Push a letter to its sound'. So this time when you push a letter, that same British voice will say something along the lines of
'K - makes the sound 'k' as in kangaroo'
'W - makes the sound 'w' as in water'.
It's all very simple and there are no irritating additional things, it is just a very simple learning aid, my daughter loves to push a letter to hear what sound it makes, and then she will repeat it.
'Push a letter to make music' - this mode is slightly odd and it took me a while to figure it out. On this setting when you press a letter it will make the sound of a musical note, and on your first try it all seems a bit random, bearing in mind that the letters are set out in alphabetical order. So at first I was randomly pressing the letters trying to make some sort of tune and just not getting anywhere.
And then I realised, the notes are programmed to play the alphabet tune, but you have to press them in the correct (alphabetical) order and you hear the tune - 'A B C D E F G...you get the idea...Now I know my ABC next time won't you sing with me'. You can also get the full rendition of this tune (with singing) if you press the blue paw button.
This mode is not particularly educational but I quite enjoy it, especially since it makes me look like I can play a tune. And my daughter likes to hear the tune; she even sometimes gets her drum and plays along.
**Find A Letter Game**
'Let's dig up some letter biscuits' - this mode is like a little game for your child to play. The British voice will ask you to find a particular letter by saying 'find the letter A', so then you press A and it says 'A' and then asks you to find another letter, but if you press the wrong letter, for instance B it will beep and say 'B - Find the letter A'. So you know if you are pressing the right letter, but also if you get the wrong letter. Scout also has some encouraging remarks for your child as they progress through this game. They also do bits where they use the letter sound rather than the letter's name.
It all sounds a bit complicated but it's not, my daughter loves this and gets on with it really well. She enjoys finding the letters and is really getting to grips with the alphabet, and I'm quite sure that this toy has really encouraged her interest in learning her letters and what sounds they make.
I am really pleased I bought this toy and find it very encouraging that my 3 year old (almost 4) is gaining a lot of knowledge from it at the same time as enjoying herself. I think it makes her feel a little bit more independent knowing that she has full control of the toy and requires absolutely no assistance from me whatsoever.
It's definitely something I would recommend for a child who already has a certain understanding of letters and the sounds they make. Do not expect a 2 year old to learn anything from this toy unless they are already showing signs of being super intelligent! I would say the age range for this toy should be at least 3 years old because at that age they are much more capable of using the toy to its full capabilities.
Requires 3 x AA batteries (provided).
Available on Amazon for £10.49 at the moment (January 2011).