Product Type: LeapFrog Child Development
Newest Review: ... and at the same time fun. I came across this great leappad that seemed like a good learning toy. This was available in both pink... more
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Member Name: Pozza
Date: 06/07/04, updated on 06/07/04 (301 review reads)
Advantages: Great fun., Very robust., Parent-friendly features.
Disadvantages: Possibly misleading age range.
My young son developed an obsession with letters and numbers long before he could speak (at least with any degree of sense). Now, at the grand old age of two, his party piece is to count incessantly until numbness sets in all round and his Tweenies display has been torn down and replaced by a huge alphabet poster.
So, when we saw the My First LeapPad while Christmas shopping we knew it would be a big hit. Manufactured by Leap Frog it is a younger version of the more familiar LeapPad. The packaging stated it was intended for ages 3 to 5 and at the time our son was two and a half, but having already learnt his alphabet and numbers up to a hundred thanks to a patient mum and toys like Alfie bear, it looked like there would be nothing to baffle our little Einstein.
I think I can best describe My First LeapPad as an interactive, talking book. The actual pad is made of a light but sturdy blue plastic and features a speaker and a ?magic? pen on a length of wire. The makers have obviously met many destructive children such as my son as the wire (my bet as the first part to break) has a soft plastic coating that somehow withstands all manner of abuse, such as chewing and being used as a dog-lead to drag the book about the house.
The book, or flipbook as they are called, easily clips onto the base using the durable plastic spiral spine and is very easy for a toddler to do. Each book comes with a small cartridge which slots into the side of the base ? very much like a smaller version of the old Atari games that wrecked our portable TVs back in the 80s.
Clip on the book, slap in the cartridge, switch on and the fun begins. The English accented voice politely instructs you to touch the green ?GO? button on each page as you go. If this isn?t done, the current page is not activated and you are disturbed
by cries of ?My LeapPad doesn?t work?! The ?touching? is done with the magic pen, which in itself will develop pen-holding skills if your child doesn?t already have them. The magic pen is then used for a variety of activities:
? touch a word and it is read out loud;
? run it along a sentence and it is read out loud;
? identify objects on the page;
? identify colours, shapes, animals etc;
? play games, usually one or two per page.
Everything on the page has an element of fun to it and is fantastic at developing language and numeracy skills. The best part is that it is completely guilt free as our son has voluntarily spent at least half an hour on it every day since Christmas!
Each ?flipbook? is effectively two books in one. Clip it on one way and you have a story; the other way gives you an activity book. Either way, each page is crammed with activities and fun. ?My First LeapPad? comes with a book called Leap?s Big Day. Additional books are available ? further Leap adventures, Winnie-the-Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. Each book has an information section for parents, telling us what skills the book develops. Such information doesn?t really interest me though ? I just want my son to enjoy the book no matter what it encourages.
Two features that my wife and I LOVE are the volume control (a + and a ? on each page) and an automatic cut-off. Far too many noisy toys have one, louder than necessary volume and if left unattended will carry on repeating the last thing it said or did. Another nice albeit small feature is the carry handle, which allows our young man about town to carry round his ?work? like Daddy with his laptop!
I would highly recommend the book called ?I Know My abc?. Our son learnt his alphabet in the ay, bee, see style. Unfortunately c
hildren need to learn the phonics in order to build up words, which we hadn?t foreseen. Just before Christmas we started to tell him that letters have sounds. We had two or three letters done within a week, but with ?I Know My abc? he had the whole lot mastered within a couple of days! Each letter is accompanied by a catchy tune with the words ?A sounds like a, A sounds like a, Every letter makes a sounds, A sounds like a? etc. Fantastic ? I?m now wander round the supermarket singing the song while nervous mothers clutch their offspring.
My First LeapPad costs between £25-£30 (ours cost £27.50 from Toys ?R? Us) and each additional book costs about £8-£9 ? quite dear, but each gives countless hours of enjoyment. It?s quite thirsty when it comes to batteries, too. The base needs 4 AA batteries and had to be replaced after a month.
I?ve outlined many of the positive features of My First LeapPad. There are a couple of niggling negatives, mind you. We think, as do a few of our friends, that the age ranges are slightly misleading. If your child is inquisitive and loves learning then they would probably really enjoy this well before turning three. The next step up (full fat LeapPad) is recommended for age 4+, but with our son already learning to put sounds together to form words, we will be picking it up for his third birthday. As Leap Frog themselves say, every child is different. I also recommend a safe place to keep the cartridges for the books ? they are small enough to get into all sorts of couch nooks and down-side-of-bed crannies.
Overall, a fantastic, fun and extremely well made educational toy, which I rate at 9 frogs out of 10.
B sounds like b, B sounds like b?.
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