I’ll admit it, I love gadgets and gizmos and fun tech devices but my love isn’t limited to items just for me. We’re big fans of LeapFrog in our house. They make great educational products that are a lot of fun for kids. And a company that can combine fun with educational is popular with my kids and me.
My five-year-old son has been reading with his Tag Reading System and my three-year-old loves exploring books with her Tag Junior. I’ve developed a comparison chart if you’re not really sure about the difference between the two.
Along with reading we’ve been working on my son’s writing or fine-motor skills. He’s more of an active guy so it’s hard to get him to sit still very long, unless it’s building with Lego. With this in mind, Leapfrog sent along to us their Scribble and Write to try.
The Scribble and Write is compact and light so kids can carry and hold it easily. The writing pen is stubby and has groves at the tip making it easy for small hands to hold. The grips and the curved design help young kids who are learning to hold a writing instrument correctly for the first time. The pen is also tethered to the Scribble and Write so you don’t have to worry about it getting misplaced and when it’s not being used there’s a handy storage area for it on the back.
The alphabet buttons are raised to make sure little fingers find and press the letter they want without frustration. The write on/whip off writing tablet is big too, ideal for practicing those letters and shapes in a nice large size. Kids don’t actually write on the Scribble and Write but instead the pen tracing on the tablet brings up the marks that can be wiped off by the slider at the bottom (like a modernised Etcha-Sketch).
The four learning options are accessible by an easily moveable slider at the top and each option is indicated by an image; no reading required. There is a power off on the slider but like most LeapFrog items, it will turn off on its own if your child walks away and forgets about it.
The Scribble and Write is designed to progress with your child’s interest and abilities. There are four different areas: Shapes, Uppercase Letters, Lowercase Letters, and Game.
Each activity is guides by a voice giving them instructions to follow the flashing dots on tablet. The dots move, illustrating the steps the child has to take whether drawing a shape or a letter. And Scout is always there (in voice) to encourage and cheer the kids at each step.
With Shapes kids learn to draw basic shapes like lines and circles and then move into complicated zigzags. The shapes are based on moves kids will need when drawing letters. My three-year-old loves doing the shapes. Some she already knows how to draw and some are new. This tracing activity also helps reinforce shape recognition.
With Letters (both Uppercase and Lowercase) the principle is the same as with the shapes: the letter is drawn on-screen with instructions and then the child traces over it. Both Shapes and Letters wait for your child to finish their turn so there’s no need to rush to complete the letter. Once done (kids tell the machine when they’re finished by pressing a button) the dots disappear and kids can see clearly the letter they drew. My five-year-old son loved this; he loved seeing his letter and how close it looked to the letter that he traced.
If your child is looking for more of a challenge, there is also the Game. Here the lighted dots appear randomly on the tablet and the kids try to guess what the letter is before it’s revealed. After that they trace it for reinforcement. Then they’re rewarded with a fun activity: follow Scout. Kids follow the moving dot on the tablet with their pen and don’t know what they are drawing until the end (though they will probably guess as they go).
What the Kids Think
As a parent I love the idea of learning games; kids love to play them and because they’re fun they don’t really think they’re learning anything. It’s reassuring to see that kids agree. My three-year-old and five-year-old both enjoy using the Scribble and Write, and for very different reasons:
Beyond Scribble and Write
The best part of this toy is when my kids aren’t using it. And what I mean by that is my son actually loves writing on paper now too. Before it was a chore to get him to write anything; he’d get frustrated with his abilities. Now with his fun practice he actually has started labeling his pictures and doing other writing projects on paper. And my three-year-old? I’ve caught her practicing to do her shapes on paper too.
LeapFrog Scribble and Write
MSRP: $24.00 Cdn