Last Christmas my 3 year old twins were a tad overwhelmed with the toy story toys they received from Santa, however one or two have been firm favourites with my boys.
One of their favourite toys has been the Buzz Lightyear Learn and Go handheld system.
It was actually me who bought these despite them being reccomended for children aged 4-7!
They cost me about £15 each on amazon, and the price is still roughly the same unless on offer.
This handheld toy is designed to look exactly like buzz lightyear, however it has a qwerty style keypad, a big red button cursor and even an LCD screen on him! This toy is a hard shape to describe, however you get the jist from the photo above. It features buzz lightyear himself, his big strong bulky arms, his see through plastic shield protecting his face and even his buttons that he boasts on his chest, exactly the same as on the film.
The body of this toy is plastic, not flimsy, thin plastic though you can feel it's good quality, and you just know it's not going to be something which breaks easy. The toy does require batteries, 3 x AA batteries, but these do come included and despite this toy being used practically everyday by my boys their batteries are still working since last Christmas!
At first this toy was just a buzz lightyear toy with buttons to my boys - they turn 4 in November and are only now beginning to appreciate the educational aspect of this toy. They have been in nursery since January, and they encourage the alphabet to the rising 3's as well as the other children, they also went to playgroup for a year before this so they were introduced to their ABC's and 123's fairly early and recognised a few letters and numbers back last year - however to actually play an engaging game or activity involving numbers and letters was of no interest to the,. This didn't bother me in the slightest that my boys didn't use this toy for it's educational purposes as they had just as much fun pretending to be Buzz Lightyear, using him as some sort of phone, or communicating device and just pressing his buttons like Mama does with her computer and phone!
Now they are beginning to play the games and activities provided on the toy though.
The qwerty keypad includes some very colourful buttons, most of the letter buttons being blue however the vowels are yellow buttons. There is an OK space button at the bottom, a music note button, a big red button (much the same as Buzz Lightyears big red button) acting as a 4 directional cursor and then there are 4 activity buttons to choose from, each named very clearly, Puzzles, Games, Words and Alphabet. There are also 3 buttons on Buzz Lightyears chest, which look exactly the same as the 'real buttons' he does have. These buttons are for the power on/off, the blue button your child can press just to hear Buzz Lightyear say one of his popular phrases such as 'To infinity and beyond' and lastly the green button to help control the volume - perfect lol!
Buzz Lightyear is the toys 'speaker' so your child will probably find this a bit more interesting. My boys love the fact they have Buzz talking to them and helping them play their games. The LCD screen although small is quite clearly animated with buzz lightyear himself as well as words and letters - they can be easily recognised and read clearly on the screen which is brilliant, as it would've been a little disapointing if they were so small that a child couldn't even see them.
In the Puzzle Section - your child has a choice of 2 puzzles either 'what's missing' or 'spanish buzz' ... both of these games being fairly simple. In what's missing your child is shown a picture of a toy story character, Jessie for example - your child has to then choose from 3 items or toys deciding which one of these is the missing item for that particular character. With jessie there was cowboy boots, a hammer and a screwdriver. Using the cursor your child can determine which one is missing and press OK when they have made their choice. When making a correct answer Buzz Lightyear rewards your child with words such as 'Excellent' and 'Well Done', however if they do make a mistake Buzz Lightyear says 'Blast', which my boys did find rather amusing! Instructions are given by buzz throughout the game telling your child what to do which does help if they become a little confused, this happens throughout all of the activities I've noticed. The second puzzle is spanish buzz, he is placed behind a 'box' and 3 boxes are switched around and your child has to choose which box he is hid behind to switch him from spanish mode, not really that fun for me as an adult, but my boys loved trying to find him and being told they were excellent if they did choose the right box!
There are, again 2 activities to choose from in the Games section being Jump and Escape. Jump is a game where your child has to use the cursor to move the Alien and make him jump into the passing lorry, extremely repetitive and boring in my eyes, but my boys seemed to enjoy it for a shortwhile. The escape game involves Buzz standing next to a door with arrow signs on it - your child has to press the cursor in the direction each arrow is pointing in, again a very boring game to me and repetitive but what I've noticed with both the puzzles and the games is the enjoyment and happiness my boys feel when they complete a game or puzzle successfully, being just 3, these simple tasks to me, are big and independant for them and completing them successfully and choosing the right answers means they are told they are 'excellent' which they love!
The words section also offers two activities, one being spelling and the other being missing letter. These are both very similar activities! Missing letter shows your child a world and then puts the word at the top of the screen with a letter missing, however four letters are shown at the bottom and using the cursor your child has to choose which letter they think is missing from the word. The spelling activity shows your child a word, alongside a picture and then asks them to spell it with the word up above the spelling space provided, using the keypad they can type in the letters needed to spell the word asked. This is a brilliant way for your child to recognise letters and words as a whole, especially as when they press the buttons on the keypad the letters are sounded out.
Last but not least is the alphabet section - it also offers 2 activities one being alphabet order and the other is letter match. Letter match allows your child to hear Buzz telling them he's got to find a key with the capital letter .... The top of the screen shows a key with a lower case letter and beneath this is four capital letters including the one in the key above, using the cursor your child has to choose the correct letter. Alphabet order is an activitiy where a few alphabet blocks are shown on the screen however one of them is blank, your child has to work out which one it is. However it isn't just a random letter from the alphabet these blocks are in order from the actual alphabet for example A B _ D .. And your child has to choose the letter which fits the blank space.
Without even using any of the activities provided your child can tap away at the qwerty keypad freely and the letters are pronounced clearly by Buzz Lightyear, another way for your child to learn their letters.
I know I've said a few times these activities seemed boring to me, but I have to remember these toys I buy are not actually for me lol! For a 4-7 year old though it is almost perfect, buzz lightyear as the narrator, offers plenty of guidance and help throughout all of the activities to allow your child to play independently and learn in their own time. He speaks throughout offering instructions and rewarding phrases and saying 'Try Again' when they have made a mistake so really encouraging children to keep trying rather than giving up just because they get something wrong. The screen allows your child to really interact with each activity rather than just listening to what they are doing, they can see everything they are doing, and they can see the answers they are getting right and wrong so they know themselves which ones they need to improve on or even ones they can complete easily next time! I don't feel this toy offers hours of play in one go, but it certainly offers my boys around 10-15 minutes play at a time, and they really are developing their memories and recognising alphabet letters and they are still only 3. The only problem I think there is with this toy is the fact the keypad letters are all in uppercase and the majority on the screen are in uppercase also, apart from the Key game which shows lower case. For a younger 4 year old this is reccomended for, this can be a little confusing. Being a teaching assistant I know now, that the majority of schools don't actually begin teaching upper case letters until reception classes/infant classes usually, which is when children are roughly 5-6. It is actually lower case letters which are concentrated on for their younger years, luckily the toy does have sound and sounds out the letters too so a child could work out what letter is what, but this could prove a little difficult at first when a child as young as 4 hasn't even been introduced to upper case letters yet. Apart from this I'd certainly reccomend this toy, both boys and girls could play happily with this and really learn their alphabet independently and confidently.
Introduces age-appropriate curriculum, including alphabet, vocabulary, spelling, logic, early computer skills and even some basic Spanish through 4 categories with 8 fun activities!