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Because the school I went to used to feed us lessons by making sure we gobbled them up and then threw them back up as fast as possible, I frankly dont remember much from most of my lessons, especially history and geography, apart from a post vomiting relief followed by total amnesia regarding the subject in question.
So when my son developed an obsession for a particular globe, I decided it would certainly be useful for me to have this toy handy.
The globe in question was the Leapfrog Quantum Leap Globe.
Those of you who have children will know that Leapfrog make educational toys, and this one is very educational indeed. I wont go into their history as I dont think it is relevant.
It usually retails at £99.99, but you may find it on special offer in many stores for £89.99 or if you are lucky, as I was, for £75. Most stores do have it in stock and the offers vary from store to store and from time to time. Having checked various other websites, I can see that offer it for as little as £65!
You will find it on e-bay also, but personally, my advice is not to buy it from there. My experience with e-bay is that, for very wanted items, you are likely to pay more than normal store prices. I was getting desperate a week before Christmas, as the globe seemed to have suddenly gone out of stock everywhere I looked, but e-bay still had many auctions for it on offer, except they were selling for over £100 plus £10 postage.
I ended up buying mine from a mail catalogue for £75. Seek and you shall find (at a decent price).
Now £99.99 may seem overpriced and even £75 still does, but this globe is very special. It talks and even sings you see!
Like most Leapfrog toys, you have the magic interactive pen, which, by pressing on a specific part of the globe, will tell you the name of the country, state, the currency but wait here are the details:
There are two main options to choose from:
This is for learning without stress (the games are stressful).
You may turn the dial to learn facts about either of all these very educational alternatives:
*Name (of the country, state or continent)
*Distance (to measure the distance between two places)
*Comparison (to compare the population and land area of two different places by
touching both locations with the magic pen)
And by gently pressing the magic pen on a specific part of the globe, a (apparently British) mans voice will tell you the name of the country, its population or whichever fact you have the dial turned to. It will only tell you the facts one by one, so for instance, you cannot request to listen to the name, capital and population of the country at the same time.
My two favourite (never mind my son now) options are the Music and Time ones. The time because my friends and family are scattered all over the world, so it is very handy to just turn the globe on (heeheehee) and use the Time dial to check what the time is in Chile, Argentina, Lebanon, New Zealand, Senegal
The Music option will play you a (supposedly) typical sample of music from the country you chose. Most countries have the National Anthem and 2 or 3 typical music pieces. It is very electronic sounding, and some of the pieces of music are much longer than others. My son uses this more than any other option, but then again he is only 5 and this globe is supposed to be for Children aged 8 or over. Just trying to explain the concept of population, distance or area is still very difficult.
There are 3 buttons below the Fatcs options which allow you to change from Countries to States to Continents.
This is the other main option on the Leapfrog Globe. It is a set of different educational games, in which 1 to 4 players can take part. Each game has 3 skill levels.
*Free for All (which includes all the above categories as part of the same game or challenge, I prefer the word game)
Each game consists of testing your geographical knowledge by asking you to locate specific places around the globe within a limited space of time.
There are three buttons beneath the Eureka Challenge options; one is for setting the number of players, one to change the skill level and one to start the game.
A voice will tell what you have to do and ask you to press the start button when you are ready. Then you have 60 seconds in which to find as many countries, states (or whatever option you chose) as possible. At this stage, I have found that my blood pressure makes a jump for the skies and in my (greedy) frenzy to find as many places as possible, I cant make out Africa from South America My son, on the other hand, tells me that I have lost my mind and very calmly looks for the locations in question. He has been known to locate Cuba, Bosnia Herzegovina, Congo, Poland, Iceland and many other countries much faster than I can. Thankfully, his nerves do not take over like mine do.
The encouraging thing (for children, not for me, it insults my intelligence!) is that regardless of the number of places you manage to find, the voice will politely say splendid, marvellous, amazing etc and will refrain from telling you what an ignorant sod you may be.
I have found that this globe is a perfect detractor from any uncomfortable conversation and I often find myself producing it to some visitors who decide to argue amongst each other over silly things in my living room. Most people become so absorbed by the challenges on offer that their sense of hearing become swiftly impaired (perhaps Blair & Co. have played with this globe for too long!) and you are free to converse with more peaceful visitors unhindered.
The Globe is quite colourful and revolves easily on a firm base.
There is an on/off button, but it also has an automatic shut-off should you forget to do that yourself.
There is a repeat button to repeat the last thing that was said.
A handy volume control does what volume controls do.
A headphone jack is a very useful part of this toy, but you will have to buy the headphones separately.
It requires 4Cs batteries (UM-2 or LR14) and although a set is supplied with the globe, they are for in store demonstration as the manual says. However these lasted for over a month of intensive playing. Regular batteries lasted for a long time (over 8 months or so of less intensive but still a lot of playing). The voice will warn you when your batteries are running out. Time to change your batteries will be the first thing it says when you switch the globe on and our globe kept on working for 3 weeks after the first warning, so that is a very useful thing!
It has an A/C adapter as well, again, to buy separately (only 6-volt DC 500mA) and you should not use any other or else the ground will open up and swallow you.
The manual is tiny but contains all the necessary information.
Like with all other electrical items, avoid spilling your tea/coffee/beer/wine/vodka or any other liquids on it and dont go swimming with it. You are supposed to keep it away from foods as well and avoid extreme temperatures.
I am very happy that my son fell in love with such a useful toy and it has brought him (and me and everyone else who has ambled through our house since last Christmas) many hours of enjoyment, and much needed geographical education.
For older children (at which this is aimed), this would without a doubt make learning their geography much more fun and I do think that the price is worth it.
I do recommend this toy and I know a few people who have been convinced by their passage through our humble home and their subsequent addiction with the globe, to invest in this very useful toy for birthdays and Christmas and sheer whims!
© Lola Awada 2005
As learning aids go, they don't get much better than the Explorer Globe from LeapFrog. Touch the globe with the electronic pen included and it will spring to life, naming the country or ocean you've touched and giving you one or more of a number of facts--ocean depth (in feet and metres), country capital, population, land area, continent, even music (a rather eclectic mix!). Touch it again, and you'll get another nugget of information.