We bought my daughter the LeapFrog Discovery House for Christmas. I bought it in Boots for £14.99 but I've seen it available in Toys R Us and Smyths Toys more recently at a similar price. I bought it because it was described to help with co-ordination and seemed to have a lot for her to explore. It's designed for children aged 6 months and onwards. It takes 2 AA batteries.
It measures around 18cm x 15cm x 15cm and made of thick plastic shaped like a house (although I think it looks more like a cottage!). The toy is made up of bright colours in blue, green, yellow and red and is aimed at teaching small children the different areas of a house and opposite actions as well as helping with co-ordination. It has a plastic handle attached at the roof that allows children to carry the toy around with them. At 12 months, my daughter is just getting used to picking it up by handle, although she still can't carry it around for long. It feels quite heavy for her really - and sometimes she just prefers to throw it and push it around instead!
The toy is simply designed - don't expect fancy features such as stairs inside. The toy is solid and so can't really be used with other toys to 'play house' with figures. I suppose it could be used as part of a play set to make up a larger village, but the house owners would have to stay outside! It has sound and voice features on it though, although these can be switched off when required or set to a quieter setting. There is also a switch to set the house to learning opposites or to set it to focus on night and daytime.
A tour of the house
We start off at the front door. This opens and closes and behind the door is a mirror. My daughter likes mirrors and always peers into it as I think she's recently started to realise that it's her reflection that she's seeing and not another baby. The mirror is rippled though so isn't perfect to look into. What surprises me is that the house doesn't play opposites at the front door - there's no 'close' and 'open' when the door moves and to me this would be the most obvious one to include on the house. Instead, there's a green button that represents the doorbell that presses in to make the 'ding dong' sound. This says the word 'shut' randomly but I don't think that it's clear that it relates to the door. There is no link to the door's movements and the bell so the door can be wide open yet the doorbell will say the word 'shut'. It makes it a bit confusing when trying to learn opposites!
There is a living room window also on display next to the front door and is operated by a switch on the side of the house. When the switch moves up and down, the light in the living room turns on and off and the toy says 'light on' and 'light off' to teach the association between the light shining and disappearing and the switch being moved. I think this part is fantastic - it encourages my daughter to switch the light on by saying 'it's too dark' so she'll move the switch and put it back on. She hasn't understood this just yet but I think in time she will, at the moment I just show her how it's done.
Finally, there is a bedroom window above the front door that has a shutter that slides back and forth - when moved one way, the window shows a moon and the house is set to 'night time', when moved the other way, the window shows the Sun and is set to 'day time'. This is a great feature to teach the times of the day and links in brilliantly to the light switch - whenever it's night time, we switch the light on to make the association between the two.
On the side of the house (the one where the switch is) there's also a lamp that lights up at the same time as the living room light based on the switches movements (I assume it's powered by the same source inside). There's a yellow button in the shape of a book here too - this tells small stories when pressed. These stories also help with learning opposites, for example one talks of spaghetti in the kitchen being too hot and then waiting for it to cool down, but waiting so long that it was too cold in the end. The only issue with this feature is if my daughter decides to keep it pressed in with her finger (or ends up sitting on it) - it gets a bit tiresome after a bit as it's only got around three stories to tell and it repeats the same ones over and over!
The other side of the house represents the kitchen. There's not much here really - I think they could have done a lot more. All we have is a fridge that opens and closes and says 'open' and 'closed' and a couple of items in the fridge slide on the shelves - there's not much for her to do and she doesn't pay much attention to this side.
At the back, we find the bathroom. This features a bathtub that doesn't do anything, a button in the shape of a rubber duck that presses inwards. Sometimes it makes a quack noise loudly and says 'loud' and other times presses and makes a softer 'quack' noise and says 'quiet'. There's also winding plastic in the shape of a tap- all that does is spin around and make a clicking noise. There's not much to it but I think this is my daughter's favourite part because she can sit for ages just spinning this around with her finger - I think she likes the noise it makes.
The roof has a small feature - there's a chimney with two birds in, one is much bigger than the other to teach big from small. As one is pushed in, the other pops back up and again is something that my daughter will spend a bit of time playing with once she realises that they pop in and out when she pushes with her finger.
We love the Discovery House - it's a great toy that has a lot to look at and explore and for the price, it represents good value for money. I think it could have been designed a little better to make more of the features it has - for example the front door could be co-ordinated to make 'closed' and 'open' sounds and there are many more items in the kitchen that they could have included, rather than just the fridge although in fairness they might not have thought some items were appropriate for a child's toy (from a safety point of view based on the real items in the kitchen). I rate the house 4 stars in total, with one coming off for not making the most of the items included.
There's a surprise around every corner with the Leapfrog My Discovery House . With five different play areas featuring lights, sounds, songs and phrases , this playful home will keep little ones busy for hours. Switch from day to night mode and discover lots of features to push, slide, open, close and turn. The playset is ideal for teaching children aged six months to three years about opposites and for improving their motor skills .