Product Type: LeapFrog Child Development
Newest Review: ... It is set in the fictional town of Doodleburg. Tornadoes have ripped through the town, destroying buildings and leaving it wrecked. With th... more
A fun tutorial on using your stylus with your console
Leapfrog Leapster / LeapPad Explorer Mr Pencil Game
Member Name: cha97mw
Leapfrog Leapster / LeapPad Explorer Mr Pencil Game
Date: 08/11/12, updated on 09/11/12 (71 review reads)
Advantages: helps a child develop good pen control and letter formation while having fun
Disadvantages: annoying american voices, very basic cartoon graphics - like doodles
My 4 year old son was bought a leap pad computer console from leap frog last Christmas when he was 3 and a half. At the time, he received this game with the console, along with a few others, and I have watched him use the various games throughout this year. When he first received this game, he was in a nursery class and had some pencil control, now he is in the foundation class (first year of school) where he is expected to have much better pencil control. I feel this game is very suitable to children of this particular life stage and also children who are new to using touch screen based devices with a stylus, as the game play relies heavily on your technique.
Mr Doodle is a game that can be used on the Leap frog explorer console and also the leap pad, and it costs around £15 to buy this new. For that price, you get a little cartridge that slots into your console in a similar manner to the cartridges that house Nintendo DS games.
The game comes with limited instructions, but to be honest, I find the games that come with the leap pad are very self explanatory, and my children have not needed a lot of input from me to work them.
In an attempt to make learning pencil holding technique fun, there is a story to this game. It is set in the fictional town of Doodleburg. Tornadoes have ripped through the town, destroying buildings and leaving it wrecked. With the help of a tool case of art supplies, the child is to repair the town using drawing and art techniques. The main character is Mr Pencil, but he is joined by Miss Brush, Marky (the marker pen), Professor Shapes and E Raser.
The game starts off with an animation setting the scene, and progresses to you entering the fire station to learn how to start repairing the town where you are introduced to drawing straight lines to repair the fire truck. From here you are directed to the library where you now need to draw vertical and diagonal lines to repair the shelves, before learning curved lines.
When you finish repairing the library, you have then unlocked the town fountain, which you must repair with triangles and painting it in colour, and so the game goes on. There are approximately 20 levels in total to work through drawing lines and shapes, and colouring in. For each level you complete you can get a star.
As well as the main part of the game, there is an art studio which has a simple drawing programme which is similar in style to paint, where your child can draw whatever they want. There is facility to save your drawings on the leap pad. The beauty of having this game on the leap pad is that the more the child plays with it, you can then go on the leap frog website daily if you wish to and download more content relevant for your games. This means you can collect new features such as different stamps to use in your art work, and so it means there are ways of making this seem fresh after your child has played for a while.
Another little feature is there is a learning zone, so you can go into a section entitled lessons and start looking at how to draw shapes again, or letters, or the line types.
At first, my son did not seem to think much of this game, as he was not that good at controlling the stylus to make the lines he needed to. You don't have to have brilliant pen control as the line you draw on screen is pretty thick, so it can be a bit wobbly as long as you stay within an area of tolerance. The child will get the idea though how to do what they are being asked, whether this is a line, a shape or even a letter.
What I like as a parent about this game is that it is teaching my son proper letter formation. He started off writing letters at school by writing his name on a laminated sheet every morning over dashed lines. Here, he is shown a green dot to start, and a red dot to finish over the dashed line, and they also break the letter down into sections if need be, so for example: t - you start with drawing the line down and go into the curve. You then cross it from left to right. This means that as well as getting better pen control, my son is also getting into his head which order he needs to make the letter in.
While this probably seems quite dry, the child is busily repairing buildings and writing letters on signs in Doodleburg, so not quite as dull as it sounds.
The leap pad is aimed really at children somewhere between 4 and 8. This game is something I would recommend for perhaps the four and five year olds rather than the older children. My eldest son is very proficient at writing, and he finds this one rather dull and would much prefer to play the character games you can get for the console. However, as a confidence and skill improving game, I think this one has a firm place.
The voices and animations are a little basic and annoying, but it seems to amuse and appeal to my four year old. As he is the intended audience and he likes it, I think I can safely say we recommend this one for children who need help learning to control the stylus. It is fairly gentle and involving, and would keep a small child entertained for many hours while they unlock all the content and save the town of Doodleburg.
Summary: You can't go wrong with this as a first game for the leap pad or explorer consoles.
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