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For my daughters main Christmas present of 2012 I bought her an Innotab 2 children's learning tablet, a fantastic purchase and it's a shame that Santa gets all the credit. I had bought her the Toy Story cartridge for it, as I was trying to wean her onto other things rather than Peppa and Mickey Mouse, also I was having trouble finding the Mickey Mouse game. Christmas is fast approaching again and I thought I would share my daughter and I's experiences of using this cartridge.
== The Product ==
The Toy Story cartridge is compatible with both the Vtech Innotab, the Innotab 2, Innotab 3 and 3S (so many of them now, can't keep up). It says it is aged for children aged 4-6 but I thought it would be fine for my daughter, you know your own child, so should be able to make a judgement call on whether your child will be fine with it or not, plus, any of the stuff she doesn't understand I was ready to lend a helping hand. The cartridge is based around the Disney Pixar film Toy Story 3 and and includes all the characters from the Toy Story series. The cartridge is broken down into 3 sections; The story, learning games and creativity. The cartridge is designed to help with the curriculum and in the instruction booklet under each application it informs you what part of the curriculum it is helping with e.g. under the Glider Getaway game, it states that the part of the curriculum this is helping with is colours/patterns/insect recognition.
The interactive story that is included on this cartridge is a condensed down version of Toy Story 3, which Lily-May really loved, as she could relate to it having seen the film a few times. The basics of the story are, The toys accidentally end up being donated to Sunnyside Daycare Centre, because Andy is leaving to go to college. Woody and the gang have to try and find their way back, at the same time, discovering that all is not it seems at Sunnyside. The story is narrated and illustrated, at the end of each page you can touch certain things on the screen to watch a piece of animation. On each page there are vocabulary words, that are highlighted, upon touching one of these words a short explanation of the word follows, narrated and shown on the screen e.g. "Woody - Woody is a cowboy toy, he wears a hat, boots and a sheriffs badge", you can choose whether to turn this feature on or off at the menu screen. To turn each page your child just swipes the touch screen from right to left, you can also choose to start the story from the beginning, or you can pick a page to start from. You also don't have to read the story at the narrators pace, there is an option to use "free play" where your child can touch each word, one at a time and read it at their own pace, I think this is a good idea to help with your child's reading.
=== Glider Getaway ===
There are two difficulty settings on this game, easy or difficult, I played it on easy and I struggled, Lily-May put me to shame much to my embarrassment and howls of laughter from Lily. In this game you are in control of Woody on a hand glider, as he attempts to escape from Sunnyside Daycare Centre. To control the glider you tilt the Innotab left, right (forwards and backwards) and up and down, sounds simple doesn't it? Did I mention all the obstacles, such as wind, leaves and flowers that you have to avoid? Along the way there are also other challenges such as "Follow the brown wasp", and out of three different insects, you have to guide Woody to follow the brown wasp, orange grasshopper, green ladybug or whatever other coloured creature you are commanded to follow. Following the correct insect will gain you points. After a while if you complete the game without losing your health bar (this can be caused by crashing into obstacles) it will inform you that the mission is completed and give you the option to play again. One thing I liked about this game, is that it has helped teach my daughter her left and right, as when she gets stuck in a bunch of leaves, a tree, or a bird lands on the glider, it says "move the innotab to the left" or "to the right" depending on the obstacle.
Curriculum - Colours / Patterns / Insect Recognition
=== Night Escape ===
In this game you control Buzz (well, your child does) as he goes in search of Lotso the bear to ask if Andy's toys can be moved to a nicer room with nicer children. To control Buzz your child taps the left side of the screen to move Buzz backwards and the right side of the screen to move Buzz forwards, to jump over obstacles you touch Buzz. Along the way Buzz will fall into basins of toys and in order to get out, you need to need to build a letter ladder by picking the correct narrated letter block. Throughout this little game you do hear glimpses of "Too infinity and beyond", as Buzz makes a larger jump. This isn't Lily's favourite game on here, she can do the letter recognition tasks really well, although controlling Buzz can be quite difficult sometimes, when you touch Buzz to jump, it can take a little longer than expected, so quite often Lily gives up on this game, just out of frustration. I found with my fat fingers that it was just as difficult to control, definitely not as responsive as Glider Getaway.
Curriculum - Letter Identification / Rhyming
=== On The Conveyor Belt ===
In this game your child controls Buzz Lightyear, as you try to help the rest of the toys escape from the conveyor belt. You control Buzz in the same way as in the previous game and yes, it is still a bit unresponsive at times. This is a game that Lily-May has required my help with, mainly because in this game you have to pick a letter to finish a word and she isn't quite at that stage yet. As you run along the conveyor belt, jumping over the obstacles, walking through sticky tar etc, you come to a little puzzle where you have three boxes to choose from and your child has to finish a word, now one of the words is "Gear", so I had to explain to a three year old, exactly what a gear is. After you pick the correct letter to solve the puzzle, you throw the gear or whatever item it is to one of the other toys, so they can escape. You have to do this five times, then you complete the game.
Curriculum - Beginning Letters / Spelling
Just so your child doesn't get bored with all the game playing and puzzle solving, this is the section for your child to let their creative side out.
=== Buzz's Showtime ===
In this application your child can create different videos of Buzz performing dance moves. Your child picks the song from the pre-recorded songs in the application, then he/she picks the location where you want Buzz to perform his dance moves. On the next screen you can make Buzz dance a certain way by moving your finger across the screen, there are various moves Buzz performs and there is a small helpful narrative to inform you what certain finger drags do. You can bring other characters into your video too, such as Rex or The Aliens, you can even bring in a jazzy disco ball. This is just a fun app, there are no rules or certain ways you have to do things to get the end result. Lily-May is kept quiet for a while playing this app and she can get some good end results. There is an option where you can save your video to the memory card.
Curriculum - Creativity
=== Woody's Dash ===
In this application your child can create a game. First of all your child picks a cut out to colour in, or he/she can pick a pre-coloured cut out to use, there are a five different cut outs that your child can choose to colour in. Once all the cut outs are coloured, you can change the background of your game by touching the screen. Once everything is all coloured a tick appears at the bottom of the main screen, your child clicks on that and proceeds to play the game they just created. The object of the game is to collect all the sheriff badges, you control Woody(the only thing you can't colour in) by tilting the Innotab left or right and flicking it upwards to make Woody jump. This is another thing that Lily-May has had lots of fun with and she doesn't really require my help, although she did at first, but now she just gets on with it. As with the previous creativity application, there is an option to save your child's game onto the memory card.
Curriculum - Creativity
You can purchase this from www.amazon.co.uk for £14.97, which is about a reasonable price for these cartridges, it cost me £19.99 last year, so it has come down in price a little.
This is a fantastic cartridge and even though a family member eventually bought her the Mickey Mouse cartridge, I have noticed that she plays on this one in equal measures. Navigating through the menu buttons on this cartridge is relatively easy and before long Lily-May was showing me the things she could do on it. I don't use the Innotab to babysit my child, some days she doesn't even play on it, and on the days she does use it, I do try to limit her time on it. I think this is a great fun cartridge and even though your child may not realize it, he/she is actually learning something, a year down the line and she still plays it, so that's £19.99 well spent in my book, and even better if you can get it cheaper. Graphically this game isn't great, but anyone who owns an Innotab will know the graphic capabilities of the machine anyway, all the characters are instantly recognizable and that is all that will matter to your child. Even though the Buzz games were a little hard to control, I would still give this 5/5 stars, because what it lacks in those two games, it more than makes up for in every other aspect of it.
Take learning to infinity and beyond with the Toy Story learning game cartridge for the InnoTab Interactive Learning Tablet from Vtech. This game includes three interactive educational activities that use the colour touch screen or tilt sensor to play. Your child will have fun as they learn about letters, shapes and counting. Children can read along with an e-book that tells the story of Toy Story 3 while the pop-up dictionary gives animated definitions of words found in the e-book. Two creative activities allow children to play with and create the toys and their creations can be saved on the InnoTab's onboard memory or on an SD card (not included). This e-book tells the story of Toy Story 3 with full colour animation, Woody and Buzz voices and magical music and sounds. The player's creations may be saved to the InnoTab onboard memory, or an SD card (sold separately).