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My eldest daughter used to use the Tag Junior system and when she began to start getting as bit bored with the system and the books she had we felt that rather than buy her new books we would be better getting her the next system. We bought Sophie the Tag system when she was 3 and a half for Christmas and at the time her favourite film was Cars so we bought her the Cars book to go with the system.
Although it is nearly 2 years since we bought this book the system is still going strong and so you can still get hold of the books easily. The book is around the £10 mark and you can buy it in the likes of Tesco, Argos
and Amazon, if you look around you can sometimes find the books on 3 for 2 offers. I think the books are pretty good value as there are lots of activities in each one aswell as a story too.
The book is more than A5 size but less than A4 and is a hardbacked book, it came with a cardboard outer on it rather than full packaging so was very easy to open. The front cover has a thick green stripe across the top of the book which has the Leapfrog logo and Tag written across it so you know which system it is for. On the front of the book you have a picture of lightening McQueen and Mater with some tractors in the background and then in the bottom corner there is a sign which shows that the book is for ages 4-6. The front cover of the book is actually pretty dull apart from the Red of Lightening Mcqueen which is because it is a night time scene but you would usually expect a book for a child to be more bright and inviting. The book is a great size as it is big enough for little hands to hold onto but it is not too big that it falls off their little knees.
The first time you use the book you have to download the audio from the Leapfrog Connect application which you can do from the website www.leapfrog.com/tag and is very easy to do although I cannot tell you exactly how to do it as my husband did the downloading but I know it didn't long and he didn't swear at it so it was simple to do. Over time as your child uses the system and the book you can go back onto the website www.leapfrog.com/learningpath where you can monitor what they are learning.
Inside the front cover of the book you have a page where it shows you what the different symbols you will come across in the book actually mean. There is,
Purple circle with open book - Read the Page
Yellow Circle with a triangle inside - Read the Story
Blue circle with two arrows in it - Repeat
Red Circle with a square in - Stop
Green circle with star in - Game
Green circle with one small star - level 1
Green circle with two small stars in - Level 2
Green circle with three small stars in - Level 3
The story begins on a night with Lightening Mcqueen and Mater watching over some sleeping tractors, Mater teaches Lightening McQueen that it is funny to creep up behind the sleeping tractors and make a loud noise to make them jump. Lightening McQueen doesn't find his friend funny but when Mater teases him and calls him a chicken he too creeps up on a tractor. Lightening McQueen revs his engine so loud he wakes up all the tractors and then Frank a large combine harvester comes out and chases them until they manage to escape through a fence that Frank is unable to fit through and they are safe. I was quite surprised that the story was like this as it showed Lightening McQueen being picked on and instead of standing up for himself he gave in to the bullying, I have discussed this with my daughter and when she is listening to the story anywhere near myself or her Dad so tells us that Lightening McQueen should have gone and told someone what Mater was doing.
On each page you can also touch the different pictures and they will have things to say to you or different sounds to make. When the story is being read there are sound effects in the background like the chirp of crickets and then when the text on the page has finished the reader gives out a bing sound to let your child know the page is finished. I think the Tag reader is really good as it allows your child to be independent when they are using it and they can also interact with different parts on the pages rather than just listening the story or playing the games.
The first game in the book is to test your childs memory of the game and asks your child to touch the character that said a certain things on the page, for example "touch someone who said here's what you do" then when your child touches the correct character the reader tells them they're correct. The second game symbol in the book gives exactly the same game as the first one and then the third game button is pretty much the same again but your child needs to look back through the whole book to find and touch the answers so it really tests their memory skills.
At the back of the book there are 4 double pages of games for your child to play, firstly you have a page with 7 different coloured vehicles each with a different lower case letter on them, I like that it is lower case letters that are being used as some toys use capitals and at the age these books are aimed at the children aren't actually using capitals. The page also has a and e in the middle of the page and pictures of Lightening McQueen and mater along with a sign on the left hand side with the words tag, ten, beg, van, bag, tan, bed and mad on it. You have the 3 different level circles on the bottom of the page but you can only play level 2 once you have mastered level 1 and level 3 once you have mastered level 2. For level 1 you have to select a car at the top of the page and match the letter on it to a word on the sign that starts with the letter, for level 2 you have to then put the a or e with the beginning letter depending on which word on the sign you have selected on finally on level 3 you have to add on the final letter from the cars at the bottom of the page. All the words are only 3 letters long so I don't see how this game would keep an 8 year old amused when my 5 year old can manage to complete it. We also use this page to see what other words we can spell which I think is really great as it really gets Sophie thinking and blending the letters to see what she can make.
The next three pages in the book all have different games on, I won't go into too much detail for them all as I don't wish to bore you all but they are basically all word and observation games which get harder depending on what level your chils is playing at.
The second game is for your child to match the sounds wh, sh, th and ch to the words whiz, wheel, when, shine, show, shop, thunder, thank, third, charm, chain and chase and gets steadily more difficult depending on what level they are playing.
The third page of games has what are called compound words which are words made up of two smaller words, you have to match the words such as pothole and headlight to the pictures and then select the correct smaller words from the bottom of the page to make up the bigger words and again the questions get harder depending on the level.
The final page has a list of words to do with the vehicles such as bumper and spoiler and next to each word there is a picture of one, your child has to touch a word and then after the reader gives them an explanation of what the part does for the car and then they have to find the car part on the pictures of the cars which of course is a great test of observations.
I think the games are great as even though there are only four main games they look at different aspects of letter sounds and how words are made up and my daughter loves playing the games over and over again even though she must actually know every answer by now.
This book is well worth the £10 we paid for it, my daughter has been playing with this game for about 2 years now and she does often play with it. My daughter has got bored of the story a little now and doesn't really bother listening to it too much any more but that I because she simply has listened to it so many times now that she knows it by heart. I cannot see how this book would suit an 8 year old as I feel it would be far too easy for them and not at all challenging I would say this book would be for ages 4-6 instead. The books is also really great quality, the pages are all glossy and on thick paper, they don't damage easily although they have a few marks where my daughter has pushed the reader into the page too hard. The pictures are nice and detailed although the pages of the story are pretty dark but this just like the front cover is because the story is set at night. The pages at the back that have the games on are all very brightly coloured pictures and much more what you would expect in a childrens book.
This book like everyone for the system that we have had dealings with is very educational, fun for children, great value and even better your child doesn't realise they are learning. This comes highly recommended from our household.