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With a lot of people asking me what my daughter would like for Christmas, I became stuck on ideas of what to buy her from myself. Flicking through the Argos catalogue I came across this reading system from Leapfrog, it looked perfect so I had a browse online to see if I could pick it up a little cheaper.
--- Setting it up ---
After already owning a Leapfrog interactive, personalised toy (my pal Violet and LeapTop), I knew it would have to be set up before I wrapped it up ready for Christmas day, there's nothing worse than having to set up a toy when the child wants it now!
First you need to insert the batteries inside the reading system, I had quite a bit of trouble with this, not because it's difficult but because I was rushing and not paying attention to what way round the batteries had to be placed. I spent a good 20 minutes trying to find out why it wasn't working to find I had a battery in the wrong way. Once the batteries are in, the tag junior is ready to be used on the book included in the box. However, it wont be personalised with the childs name or with other books if you purchased more like I did, that's when you have to install the software onto the computer.
Inside the box is a disc that contains all of the software that needs to be installed. It's pretty much self explanatory, just follow the steps and it should install onto the computer fine. Once it has been installed, simply double click on the icon on the desktop, this will launch the program. I already had a LeapFrog parent account from the previous LeapFrog toys we have set up, so all I had to do was sign in, if you don't have an account it is quick and easy to set one up.
Once you have signed into your account it's time to personalise the tag junior, this is where you have to connect the reading system to the computer with the enclosed USB cable, sounds easy right? Not when you see the size of the cable. Its around 15cm long, this makes it quite tricky when you have to connect it to a desktop but it is just about manageable. I had to balance the reading system right at the back of the tower and put the USB in the computer without knocking the reading system off, it is times like these I wished I had a laptop!
The program is self explanatory when it comes to personalisation, there is a tab on the left of the screen saying 'personalise my tag junior', click on this then type the childs name in and it will give you an example of what it will sound like. Then click on 'download audio' on the left and it will give you an option of what audio to download for the suitable books that you have purchased to use with it. I had bought Dora and Disney princess books for my daughters system and they were easy to download onto the reading system.
Once that is all done, the tag junior is ready to rock and roll. I put my daughters back into the packaging and wrapped it up ready for Christmas.
--- The tag junior ---
The tag junior reading system is described as a pen, I'm not really sure why as it looks nothing like a pen. It has a chunky sphere type design, shaped like a rounded figure of eight with a smaller sphere sitting on top of a larger one. It is mainly plain white in colour with bits of pink dotted around on the buttons, around the bottom of the system and a cute face. The green system is exactly the same but green replaces the pink.
There are two different buttons located on the tag junior, one is the power button and the other is to change the volume. Once the power button has been pressed, the tag junior will say hello *insert childs name here*, my daughter loves this aspect as it is more personal to her. When the power button is pressed again it will say catch you later *insert childs name*, the novelty of this is great, when my daughter first opened it all she would do is press the power button on and off and on and off over and over again, thankfully now she doesn't do that anymore! There are two different volume settings, pressing the volume button over and over will scroll through the low and high settings. Both of these settings aren't very loud so you don't have to worry about being deafened by it, the low setting isn't extremely quiet either. I think LeapFrog have got the volume settings just right for parents and for children.
The pen has a sensor underneath the bottom of the snowman shaped reading system, this sensor picks up on preset phrases, sounds and questions within each individual book. Once it has been pressed over certain pictures or sentences in the book, the reading system will pick up the correct sound and will say what it see's. This sounds good in theory but as soon as the tag junior is moved from one place to another it will stop reading the sentence or making the noise that it was and automatically sense the word or sound of where its moved too.
The tag junior only has space in it's memory for the audio of five books. This isn't a problem for us as we only have the one book that was included with the reading system and two more that I have purchased. I don't think we would ever have more than five books so I think it is a nice amount. Be prepared to keep having to delete some audio to make space for different audio if you do get more than five books. I don't think it would be much of a problem as downloading them is quick and easy enough but it could get a little frustrating if the child wants to read a book that you don't have the audio for.
The tag junior can be linked back up to the computer to check your childs progress from the LeapFrog program that was installed with the disc. By clicking on the learning path icon at the top of the program you will be sent to a page with details of how the child is learning. It will tell you the time spent playing with the tag junior in the last week and all time. It will also show you the questions and activities that the child has explored with the reading system. I don't really use this aspect of the tag junior as my daughter doesn't really know the questions and activities. Maybe once she is more aware of what the activities are all about I may use it, but for the minute it's pretty useless for us.
My daughter, at just over two years old when she first received this, has never had a problem holding the chunky reading system in her hands, the thinner part of the system between the two spheres is the perfect size to fit the bigger sphere in her hand with her thumb and fore finger grabbing on around the thinnest part. As the tag junior is recommended for children between 1 and 4 years, I think the young end of the scale is a little optimistic as it is quite chunky for very small hands to have a hold of.
I bought this for my daughter as I thought it would be a good way for her to read books when I'm not there to read to her, she loves reading books and I thought this would bring a new dimension to her books other than just looking at pictures. After owning this for five months she still doesn't understand that to get the reading system to tell a sentence she has to keep it in one place. She often gets frustrated as half way through reading something she will move it somewhere else and the system will stop reading what it is. All that aside, she does enjoy hearing the music side of the book, with lots of different melodies and sounds on different pages she can be kept occupied by the reading system for a good half an hour without getting bored.
--- Accessories ---
This tag junior isn't unlike other electronic learning devices, it has different books that can be purchased to be used with the reading system just to get a bit more money out of you. There are many different books available to buy, around 20-30, so you aren't limited to a handful of books to choose from which is nice. Each different book is based around a learning objective, some of these include, Dora the Explorer which is all about counting to 10, Alphabet book which is pretty self explanatory, Cars which is all about shapes and sizes. Each of these books cost around the £7-£10 mark.
There is also a storage case available to purchase for the tag junior, this usually costs around £10. The storage case can hold the reading system and up to four books.
--- Suitability and availability and other information ---
When I purchased the tag junior there were two to choose from either pink or green, now there are two other versions available to purchase as well. These two new versions look more like LeapFrog characters Scout and Violet looking more like puppies than the basic white and pink one we purchased. These are widely available to buy for around the £30 mark from places such as Amazon and Argos.
LeapFrog say that the recommended age for this reading system is between twelve months and four years. It requires two AA batteries.
--- Overall ---
I would definitely recommend this LeapFrog tag junior, it introduces children to the world of reading by themselves and bring a new dimension to story telling. The problem with the sensor moving straight on to a different word or sound is quite annoying, but my daughter still enjoys playing with hers. It's a little frustrating that if you want more than just the demo book it's going to cost you a tenner a pop for each book but I guess that is the same with most toys/learning aids of this type. I personally don't feel like my daughter would have played with this much had she received it when she was only a year old so I think with her being two now, she did receive it at the right time. Recommended.
We bought this for our daughter for Christmas 2011, she is 2 and a half years old. She absolutely loves it. She loves reading books and this seemed a great way for her to enjoy books but also actively take part in them rather than just being read to.
You press the device against the page of a Tag Junior book and it talks. If you touch the text, it says the words out loud. It does not allow you to select individual words, it reads the entire paragraph. It also says phrases when you touch the pictures on the pages. All the available books are different so they all do different things. Sometimes the device just reads things out loud, other times it asks the child to touch a certain picture or follow an instruction. It then congratulates the child for correctly following the instruction.
The device is designed especially for small hands and my daughter has no problem in holding and using it. There is a volume button and an on/off button. It really is that simple to use. You just switch it on, touch the page of a Tag Junior book and it automatically knows which book you are reading and begins.
You need access to the internet and a computer to use this device. You need to go to the Leapfrog website and download "Leapfrog Connect" which is free. You then create an account which is simple and easy to do. You buy a Tag Junior book then plug the device into your computer using the supplied USB cable and log into your account. You can then manage your device. You select the title of the Tag Junior book you have purchased and then the audio will download onto your Leapfrog Connect account. You then add it to your device with a click of a button. It sounds long-winded but honestly, I set up from scratch and downloaded 3 audio books onto my daughter's device in about 20 minutes and now the account is set up, any further books I purchase will only take minutes to add to the device. The device only holds 5 books but you can keep all the audio in your Leapfrog Connect folder and then remove and add books at the click of a button.
An added little bonus is that you can add your child's name to the device so when you switch it on it says a greeting including your child's name which my daughter thinks is fantastic as it's talking directly to her. It also says your child's name in a goodbye message when you switch it off. My child does not have a popular name and I was very impressed it had her name on the database.
We have bought a variety of books and they are all educational in different ways and I can honestly say in just a few weeks I can see a difference in my daughter's knowledge and her ability to follow the instructions. I thought it would be something that I would have to encourage her to use but she plays with it on a daily basis and talks along with it, it's so lovely to watch.
In addition, I have purchased a Tag Junior carry case which protects the device and also holds the books. It is great quality and rather than putting it out of reach for fear of it being damaged in the toy box, it can be left within reach and my daughter can play with it whenever she wants.
The device uses 2 AAA batteries but I cannot say how many hours use you get because my daughter has used this everyday since Christmas and I am yet to change the batteries so very impressed!
If you want to give your child a great start to reading and also want to help children become interested in books/reading, I really would recommend this device.
It was around my daughters third birthday that I decided that it was coming to the right time to start introducing her to reading books. Of course I read books to her all of the time, this is very much one of her favourite things to do but she was taking an interest in trying to read the books herself. I started with the basics, flash cards, early readers and alphabet abacus's but what I really wanted to get was a leapfrog tag. The age range on this however was 4 to 7 years and I was not going to push her that far past the learning for her age. That's when I came across the tag junior, I was sceptical about buying it at first as the age suggestion was 2 to 4 years and I thought it could present its self to be more of a toddlers toy rather than a learning tool, however I pursued and bought it. 6 months later, this is what we think.
What it does
The leapfrog tag junior is basically a large balled (snowman looking) type pen that allows interaction with tag books. A sensor within it must pick up the pre activated words and phrases that are presented within the books. Each book is different and has different activities but the main idea of the tag junior Is to encourage little ones to take an interest in reading in a different and interesting way. Really the pen does no more than what I could do, asking questions, saying the words but I think it is the novelty of being something new and interesting that makes it more appealing than my own voice.
To activate the tag junior you need internet access as you need to download the books from the internet onto the pen for the pen to be able to work and interact with the books. Together the pen only stores 5 books so if you have anymore than this then you will have to continue changing them over which, once downloaded to your personal tag page is not to difficult to do. The internet can actually be used a lot with the tag, it is a prominent part in its functioning's. You are able to activate the pen to say your child's name when it is turned on or off, my daughter finds this most amusing! You can also track your child's progress on the internet, the pen monitors what questions etc you child has got right or wrong and maps them out on to a chart for you to see the progress, it really is very clever and technological! The internet connection also allows you to print out activities that are related to the books that are programmed onto your tag and ones that are suitable for your child's level of learning.
Most tag junior pens come with a book and this book is called What if? I will use this book as an example of some of the things that the tag junior does. Everything in the book, including the cover does something when you press it. The title is read out loud and when pressing the illustrations they make noises to echo what is going on in the picture. For example the picture on this book is a boy playing with an elephant, the noise made when this is touched is a laughing noise. This book is specifically a story which not all of them are, when you touch the paragraph of words it reads the whole paragraph out loud which doesn't give much of a chance for children to learn the words. It's a very quick pace indicating that it is more so designed to be listened to, not to read yourself. Throughout the book there are lots of pictures which make different noises and some have learning phrases for example one says " look at the lion he is yellow like the sun." A different type of interaction comes in the form of tasks. If you touch a specific picture for example in this book if you touch the mummy elephant it says " I'm the mummy elephant can you find my blue baby nearby?" if you get it right and touch the baby elephant the tag makes a little noise which indicates that it has recorded that the answer was right and it says well done. There are lots and lots of different words, phrases and tasks within the books these are just some of them.
Books and accessories
There are a wide variety of books available to cater for different preferences, to name a few there are; Toy story 3, Dora the explorer, winnie the pooh, ABC alphabet, cars and many many more. Choosing the right books are very important as uninteresting books will not provide motivation to get little ones reading. Some books I think are more recommendable than others, for example the Dora the explorer book is a part English part Spanish book which really is just going to complicate a child that is trying to learn to read English. My daughters attempt at Spanish is highly amusing but she isn't learning anything from it. The alphabet book is very good at teaching the alphabet and it has some catchy songs and noises to get children to remember the letters. All of the books are spoken in different accents so to speak, take Dora for example, it sounds like it Dora talking and the same with other books and characters such as toy story and cars.
The tag itself is available to buy in two colours, pink and green. But its only the very edge that differs in colour, the majority of the tag pen is white. As for accessories, there really aren't many but there is a very handy storage case which can be bought separately. It has two little compartments inside to snugly fit the pen and a couple of books, this is very ideal for travelling and it's relatively inexpensive to buy.
What I think
So all in all I think that the tag junior was well worth buying, its not going to last my daughter very much longer but I do think it is an excellent tool, I just wish I had bought it earlier on when my daughter was little bit younger. I really like how they have different activities throughout the books and my daughter has learnt some new things from this but its not what I would have expected. I would have expected it to have gone through the words individually like a normal tag does. I think the way it records your child's progress is very good and useful for finding out what your child is learning. Also the activity sheets are very beneficial and my daughter enjoys doing these. I don't think it really aids reading, its more of a fun interactive toy that introduces children to books but since my daughter was very interested in books anyway its not provided much for us.
What my daughter thinks
My daughter is quite taken with this little bit of kit. She really enjoys listening to her name, she turns it on and off just to hear this! She enjoys some books more than others so it does really depend on the books that you buy. She likes the Dora book just because it is Dora, but she doesn't really learn much from it. Its more a fun toy rather than an educational one but she enjoys it all the same. If it has taught her anything it has come from the ABC book which, with some help has taught her the first letter of her name and how to sing the alphabet song.
Prices and technical info
The leapfrog tag does come in at a reasonable price of £25 however the individual books which are essential to buy come in at about £10 each with some being even more than that.
The Tag takes 2 AA batteries but the lasting power is incredible, I have yet to change mine and we have had it for over 6 months. The tag also comes with the necessary wires needed to connect it to the computer.
Its not as educational as I would have liked it to be but its still fun, it looks nice and it does have some teaching qualities. I would recommend you buy it when your child is younger than three as they may not get as much use from it as you would like.
I purchased this a couple of christmases ago. I bought the eldest Bugsby (V-Tech) and my youngest (at the time) who was 18 months Tag Junior.
This is a clever little system that can read books I presume by the tiny little dots that are just about visable on the page. If you place it on the words it will read the whole page out and it will make different sounds depending on what else you touch, e.g. if you touch the lion in the picture it would roar.
The positives of this is it gives your child a real idea of how books work, it also has little game in it, like can you find something that roars and the child has to touch the lion to get it correct.
This also maps you child's progress and this can be viewed on leapworld.
Leapworld a brief overview - You can also view your childs learning path to see which skills they have gained or are still working towards. This is split into different age ranges and skills so you can not only check your child is meeting their own age but also if they are ahead. It tells you if your child can do something or is working on something. This path is individual to each child and also combines with their learning path from other toys, e.g. leapster explorer. Don't be too disheartened if it says your childis not even working towards something it maybe that you don't have the game that teaches those skills. Also do remember to take what it says with a pinch of salt. No children are the same and your own view of their progree and any teachers they may have holds more weight than this.
This is probably a good thing if you have one child. I however had 2 at the time and childmind (including my own) for 7 different children throughout the day so this learning path becomes completely useless.
The good thing is unlike bugsby you can install up to 5 books on the reader so there are no cartridges or anything to get lost. We now however have several books and we keep having to juggle which ones are on there and it always seems he wants the ones that aren't installed!
The other thing is unlike bugsby and the standard Tag the reader is quite wide on the bottom and must be placed completely flat on the page to read it. This had my rather impatient son screaming and throwing it in frustration! This probably would not have been an issue if I didn't get Bugsby at the same. This could be placed at the angle you would use a pen at so was probably a bit easier.
It takes 2 AAA batteries which last ages (but he doesn't use it much.) Now i don't know if its just my one but when the batteries die and we replace them its like the reader sulks or something because it won't work at all then for a day or two. It doesn't seem to matter what we do, which batteries we put in it just won't work till its sorted itself out. it was like this from day one even before my son started throwing it around in anger!
All in all I wouldn't say this was great, both children ended up playing with Bugsby and this was largely ignored. He did go through a little phase of playing with it recently but he is nearly 3 now and too be hoenst he is a very bright little boy and the topics covered by the books are now well below him. I would however still contemplate buying the older tag reader as this is i believe more similar to Bugsby even if it is still restricted on how many books can be used with it.
This currently retails for around the £30 mark on Toys r us
My sister brought this for my daughter for her 2nd birthday. We had been umming and ahhhing over what to ask people to get and she brought this without our knowledge. When we first opened the package with our daughter we were unsure as to whether she was old enough to use it or if it would stay in the back of the toy cupboard until she was older.
It basically consists of a snowman shaped hand piece, and a variety of books which it interacts with. In the box when we received it there was a book about animals called 'I can' or something along those line, the handpieceand a cable for connecting it to the computer. More on that later.
From the first time she used it she was smitten, she had finally found a way for her to read and enjoy her books on her own without one of us reading it to her. She is very independant and would like to read the same page several times before moving to the next.
It basically works by reading a microchip in the page and reading out the words from that page in the book, also when you move it over the pictures it invariably makes a noise or says something to do with it. We have brought her approximately 10 books from the series and she loves sitting on her own in her reading corner in the afternoon and reading her books.
The only downside is that the books cost approximately £10 a time and the unit costs £25 ish.
The thing I like most is that I can connect this handpiece up to the comupter and see what she ahs been reading with it, how many times and how well she is progressing through the books. It also lets you programme it so that when you turn it on/off it says the childs name.
I would highly recommend this item if you have a child who loves reading but craves independance. A great gift or purchase.
Every Christmas the family seem to expect me to know exactly what the should buy my daughter, the father in law is one person who will not buy anything himself and always spends quite a bit on the children so the Christmas before last I had to come up with an idea for what he could buy my daughter and we decided on the tag junior system.
The tag junior system sells at around £30 for the actual reader and a book, this is recommended for up to three years and then there is another stage for four to seven years. The item can be bought many places over the internet and we personally got it from Argos. You have to buy any further books for the reader separately and these cost about £10 each although I have often seen them on offers such as buy one and get a second half price.
The reader is made of white shiny plastic with green bits on it, it is shaped so that little hands can hold it easily, there is an on/off button towards the bottom where it won't get knocked while in use. To open the reader you need a knife or something similar to turn a lock and then it will separate to reveal the batteries, the locking device is on a spring so once open you don't lose the little bit which is great. The reader takes 2 x AAA batteries and are a little fiddly to fit as they have to slide under a strip of rubber which is there to keep the batteries in place but the rubber tends to grip the batteries as you push them into place. I have had to change the batteries in this numerous times although my daughter has a habit of leaving the power on which obviously doesn't help it certainly doesn't run for long on cheap batteries. The base of the reader has what looks like some sort of laser hidden inside where it cannot get damaged, there is a small circle of plastic that retracts a little when it touches one of the books and also there is a speaker on the reader for the book to be read.
When you set up the toy for the first time you have to register it on the internet and then you have to select the books that you have bought for the reader for the corresponding information to be downloaded to it. I no longer have the instructions but seem to remember that the reader can hold the information of 10 books at any one time although we only have four for it so we have never had a problem and the Tag junior doesn't seem to have as many books available as the next stage reader.
The book that comes with the reader is if I were and is only a thin book about if the little boy was different animals, the reader doesn't just recognise words but also interacts with the pictures in the books aswell. This book only has 7 pages and is made of thick cardboard as are all the books in the series, the pictures are all brightly coloured and you can see that there are lots of tiny little dots covering every page which must be how the reader works. When you buy books for the reader they have around 12 pages in them, every book is to teach a different aspect, the if I were book teaches about animals, we have a dora book which teaches numbers in both English and Spanish and we have a book which teaches the alphabet.
I would recommend this toy as it is great for little ones to play with and to learn from without it being work for them, my daughter doesn't seem to play with it for long periods but I think that is probably because she only has a couple of books to go with it. As the books are £10 each we simply picked books that would teach her the most things, I think the idea of this is brilliant and will certainly be buying her the next stage one for her birthday.
I bought this recently for my son and was impressed with the quality and design of the product.
The tag is programmable so it welcomes your child when your turn it on. It has a clear speaking voice.
When you hover this over the tag junior books the reader takes on the voice of the charachter in the story (cars sounds exactly like cars as does dora!). There are activities to do and if children stray and look at something else on the page it performs a sound or tells them a bit about the object.
The tag plus books can be expensive bu there are some good offers available and it encourages children to enjoy books and i'm hoping this will help the progression to reading.
The case is a must to keep the tag and books safe and together.
The tag is sturdy design and has been built to deal with the rought approach of a younger child.
All around impressed.
We were looking to get my daughter a Leapfrog computer game system for Christmas. After realising that Leapfrog had just upgraded their systems, the product available to us for a two year old was the Leapfrog Tag Junior system.
For some reason I wanted the bus but as it wasn't being made anymore, we researched the tag junior and ended up buying her one.
The tag junior is a reading system for toddlers aged 2 - 4 which encourages them to read books, interact with pictures and sounds, as well as learning by completing simple tasks that the tag machine asks the toddler to do.
When we first received it, I thought the system itself looked like a weebil toy that I had when I was a child. It's designed to imitate a pen, but it made super chunky for toddlers to grasp. This is a good idea, but looks more like a person from a children's TV programme without a face than a chunky pen.
If you are buying this as a present then I would recommend it's opened and set up prior to giving to the child. We learnt this the hard way and then had an impatient toddler on our hands whilst we tried to wrestle with synchronising the system with the PC.
Before you can use the reader, despite actually coming with a book, you have to register online with Leapfrog and download the software for the tag reader. This is a simple process, but both myself and my other half did struggle with it the first time around. Neither one of us is sure why as he uses XP and I have Vista. Eventually we both managed it and realised it was simple, so perhaps it wasn't the fault of us but the online site itself.
You attach the tag system to the PC with a very short USB lead. This was quite a hindrance as the reader is very close to the PC and won't find a suitable place to sit without your holding it.
To personalise your reader, you can add your child's name into the system. This is great for the children and my daughter absolutely loves hearing it say hello to her when she turns it on.
There is space on the reader memory to store five books at one time. Te idea of storing this data is so that as a parent you can look back and see what your child has been reading, perhaps what their favourite is and how accurate their answers are. It definitely is a learning toy in disguise rather than a bit of fun.
We don't tend to analyse her stats to be honest, and haven found this area a bit none descript for us. The idea behind this for us was so that she could entertain herself occasionally reading a book without just looking at the pictures.
So once you're set up and ready to go, and making sure you have your 2AAA batteries installed which aren't included in the box then you're ready to go.
The on / off switch is easily found and it didn't take my daughter long to work out where it was. She manages to operate the system easily even with chunky fingers.
Once turned on, the book is required. We started off with the free one included, and let her see what she thought of it.
There are large bright pictures covering the sturdy board books. We found them to be strong enough to withstand toddlers, and left her to play.
Apart from a few words written on each page it's mostly pictures. As soon as the base of the tag reader hovers over the words or pictures, then it will start to speak by either reading the words, or stating what animal it is for example.
The one main flaw with this is that the child has to keep the reader still to be able to continue with the sentence. As soon as they have moved it then the reader senses something else and moves on. This isn't great for when they are trying to listen as a two year old can't be expected to understand that words need to be followed on a page.
My daughter plays with this sporadically, but I think as she gets a little bit older she will enjoy it a lot more. There are plenty of books you can buy for this system and as long as they are looked after I think they will keep for a long time.
Overall I think this is a great learning aid for children to be able to have the independence of answering simple questions set by a talking toy. There are functions such as the analytics that I don't think are needed, but perhaps some parents would like this.
We tend to play this together rather than my daughter just getting it out when she feels like it. This makes it a sharing interactive toy which is great for spending time together as a family.
You can buy this for £29.99 which includes the reader and one book. I think this is good value for money for what is included. Extra games are priced at £9.99 each which I think is a bit steep.