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So it's my daughter's 3rd birthday and I have known for some time what I wanted to get her and using my lovely DooYoo Amazon vouchers one of the things I got her was this Leapfrog Count and Draw Pad which costed £11.92 (free delivery, wahey!). I came across it as I first wanted to get her something really educational but fun so my initial thought was a leap pad but after consultation with her dad who got her a laptop similar like toy for christmas which she doesn't use and seems to have no attention span or interest in using he basically talked me out of it! As an alternative, I looked through the argos catalogue at the leapfrog range and instead saw this which seemed much more age appropriate.
*** About the Pad ***
It is a very lightweight pad, weighing only 381 g designed to help little ones count and draw the numbers from 0 up to 10 and also do a range of shapes in different sizes. It is quite a wide rectangular shaped pad which has numbers along the top, a screen which is similar to a etch-a-sketch pad in the bottom centre of the pad and has settings along the left hand side for Shapes, Numbers and Treasure. On the left hand side is the off button, or it can be flicked down so it goes down to setting 1, and further down to setting 2 which is essentially just making the toy louder! Attached to the pad is a pen secured to the pad with string which is used to draw the numbers and shapes on the screen. There is a slot on the back for the pen to fit in snugly so it never gets lost.
*** Features ***
There are three different settings which encourage the little one to draw accurately and easily. At the top is the shapes settings. The toy is efficient as it has bright red dots as lights underneath the screen so making it easier to follow and understand. For example the pad will say "now let's draw a small rectangle. A rectangle has four sides." It will then do each dot individually along for a rectangle and it will say "draw a line from here to here" whilst displaying the dots along the line which eventually will end up drawing a rectangle. Once completed the child is encouraged to press the picture of a pawprint on the pad which signifies they have done the appropriate drawing and the pad will then exclaim "you did it! great!"
Next up we have the numbers setting which is really a similar process. The numbers from 0-10 across the top of the pad allows the child to touch the requisite number they want to draw e.g. number 5 and then the pad does the dot's in bright red against the backdrop of the screen and allows the child to follow the dots across the pad so when the dot's disappear what they can see is the number they have drawn.
The treasure setting is the principle of a treasure hunt, which is completely random and a bit more of a mix up as opposed to numbers and shapes. When on this setting the pad has a blinking red spot which encourages the child to draw random shapes and things like a diamond and to count how many are on the screen by pressing the appropriate number at the top. There is a bit of maths involved which is very interactive and encourages the little ones to do simple sums.
*** My Opinion ***
I actually really love this pad and most importantly my daughter does! She is only 3 years old and is in a phase where her happiest moments are a pencil in hand and some paper so I thought getting her to be more active in writing and drawing would only be beneficial and she can't put it down! She has grasped the concept of it straight away and has so far been enjoying tracing the lines to do different numbers and shapes. I was much impressed at her first attempt at drawing numbers, although her efforts at drawing shapes were a little off I know she will get there!
In terms of the shapes setting it has a lot of options and variety in terms of big rectangle, small rectangle, hexagon, square, circles etc all shapes my daughter is very aware of (I blame Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!) so I think it is very good at giving lots of variety to keep her stimulated as she doesn't feel she is doing the same thing over and over again but at the same time is doing shapes often enough to actually get the hang of what she's doing!
The toy of course has an american accent which to be quite honest after a continuous 30 minutes use does slightly start to grind on my gears! It seems a very patronising tone when it says "well done! it's great!" especially when my daughter has completely scribbled all over the screen, ignoring the dot to dots but gone off on a tangent and simply just having some fun lol!
My daughter is left handed like her dad and so the pen is great as the string its hanging on to is placed ideally in the centre of the pad so that it can be used in either hand, which is amazing. However, a small gripe I have with this toy is the string attaching it to the back of the pad is quite short so it really doesn't stretch very far. It's long enough to be used on the pad and its great as it means it won't get lost but for it could be a bit longer, as if I want to use it and have a go (yes I know it's not designed for me!) it doesn't sit all too comfortably in my hand and makes it slightly awkward to use. For her 3 year old sized hands its perfect but I wonder how long she can use it with ease!
Gratefully the toy came equipped with the 3 AAA batteries it requires and as I bought it off amazon I can only hope this means it hasn't been played with for ages before hand so these will last a while! Putting in new batteries at the back requires a screw driver to take the back off and put new batteries in, but this is generally a standard precaution with most electronic kiddy toys which I appreciate. It is very lightweight which is ideal so she can hold it herself which makes her feel independent like she has her own expensive gadget or something
Overall I think this is a great toy and I think around the age of 3 (at least for our little one) has been a good age to start. She has recently moved to pre-school room in nursery and so will be learning lots of new things on the EYFS curriculum come September so I wanted to prepare her for this transition and give her a little toy to encourage the learning experience. I think this gadget is a great invention and is a fun interactive way to teach little ones the sequencing (although my daughter can already count to 30 the little minx that she is!) and drawing of numbers and also expand their learning skills in drawing shapes. It's extremely good value for money, as at £11.92 I think it is quite inexpensive for what it does and so I would definitely recommend it and I am now saving some lovely DooYoo Miles to get her the Leapfrog Scribble and Write pad next!
As my daughter is now in reception at school and beginning to learn how to write properly we decided we would buy her some toys for Christmas that would encourage these skills, we found the scribble and write and count and draw toys from Leapfrog and decided these would be a good idea. I actually managed to pick both toys up when they were reduced in Argos and so paid £9.99 for this instead of the usual selling price of £14.99 which I thought was a great reduction.
The count and draw system like I said is created by Leapfrog who as far as I am concerned are a leading brand in educational toys for young children. The system is like a hand held computer and is shaped on the basis of a rectangle but with curved edges to make it more comfortable for your child to hold, in the centre of the console there is a little screen that your child will draw on and then at the right hand side there is a small blue slider which turns the system on and provides two different volume levels. Across the top of the screen there are 11 buttons, there are buttons 1 to 10 and then a paw button which is basically the enter button for all that your child does, the background for the buttons is bright yellow and orange and then there is the little dog character pictured on this part aswell. Down the left hand side there is a slider with a hole in the middle, there are three pictures under the slider and this is where your child selects what play option they want to be in. The layout of the console is very user friendly and everything is in reach of little hands easily.
There are three different play options the first one being shapes, when you turn the slider to this option the system says lets draw shapes, the system starts off with a zig zag line and then a curved line and shows a series of little red lights for your child to draw over and then they have to press the paw button when they have finished. When your child has drawn a shape and pressed the button the system tells them they are right (even if they are not) and tells them well done, the system will also tell your child when to use the slider along the bottom of the screen to rub out what they have done. This play option teaches rectangles, squares, stars, pentagon, heart, triangle and hexagon, I think this is a great range of shapes and before using this system my daughter hadn't heard of a hexagon or a pentagon and now she is able to draw them, I also like the fact that after the shape has been drawn the system tells your child how many sides the shape has and then displays the number on the screen.
The next play option is 1,2,3 which I would think tells you what you are going to do but just incase this is the option that will teach your child how to draw their numbers, when you place the slider over this option the system asks your child to select a number from the top and then the little red lights are used again to show your child how to form their numbers and the correct order in which to draw each part. My daughter has really come along with her numbers in the few weeks from christmas and I am really pleased with her progress, the school are focusing more on the childrens letters so I am pleased that she has something at home to keep encouraging her with her numbers too as her formations were not very clear.
The last play option for this syetm is a treasure hunt, when turned onto this option the system tells your child to place their pen on the blinking red spot and the follow the flashing light, the system piles red spots on top of each other and says that they are diamonds, gold and rubies etc and then asks your child to count how many we have by how many red spots there are and to press the correct numbered button on the top of the console. The system helps to teach simple maths too for example it says there are 3 chicken in the barn and if 1 chicken leaves the barn then how many chickens are in the barn, your child then presses the correct numbered button across the top of the system and then they are asked to draw the number too. My daughter finds this bit easy but then this system is supposed to be suitable from ages 2 and up so at 4 1/2 this option is a little too young for her although she still does play with it and the little bit of maths it teaches her was new to her so it was a good introduction.
Even though my daughter was really older than the system states is suitable I feel this system has really helped her and her number formations are loads better and she has only been playing with this a few weeks, my daughter enjoys playing with the toy although she does get bored with it after about 15 minutes and then she will generally play with the letter system for a while instead. My youngest daughter is 16 months and she will quite happily take the pen and draw on the screen and press the buttons which I am letting her do as even though she doesn't understand numbers yet I don't believe there is ever an age that is too young to introduce new things. The toy came complete with batteries which I always think is a good thing as you don't want a disappointed child when you have no batteries in the house for their new toy. I would recommend this toy I only wish we had bought it for my daughter when she was a little younger and then she could have got more out of it.