Posts Tagged ‘Leapfrog’

LeapFrog Event

I’ll admit it, I love tech gadgets. My love doesn’t end at just me. Gadgets for kids are just as cool, sometimes cooler. And when they sneak in a little learning, even better. That’s probably one reason we own a number of LeapFrog products. The kids love the products and I love that they’re playing games to help their reading or math.

Recently we were invited to a LeapFrog event, giving the kids a chance to play with some of their new products. My kids could hardly contain themselves when we entered the room. The room was set-up in three areas: the infant and preschool toys, Tag reading tools, and the new Leapster Explorer.

My youngest loved LeapFrog‘s My Own Laptop (age 24 months to 4 years). She played alphabet games, helping her not only recognize the letters but also the placement on a keyboard. The laptop also has other features once you hook it up to the Internet but she was just playing with it on its own. It’s a nice compact size too, with a built-in handle making it easy to carry around.

At the reading table the kids played with the Tag and the Tag Junior. We own both of these and the kids love them (see our review on the Tag and the Tag Junior). My son and youngest daughter were interested in some of the new books, like Star Wars: Clone WarsSponge Bob and Toy Story 3.

LeapFrog makes great early education products but most of them lean toward the younger toddler/preschooler aged child. My oldest, now 8, loves the Tag system and still enjoys using it though it’s really designed to aid early readers. She loves the interactive aspect of the reading system, with games and activities built into a story. So when we saw the new Tag Map System, both my daughter and I were intrigued. This is a fold out, double-sided map that works with the Tag pen and helps kids with geography. There’s a United States map as well as a World map.

Another great learning toy coming from LeapFrog this summer is the Leapster Explorer. This looks similar to the original Leapster 2 but offers a larger screen, new titles and the ability to connect and interact within a new online world. All 3 of my kids were mesmerized by this, but especially my older two. With my kids’ increasing interest in handheld gaming devices (and they are great for road trips), it’s nice to see one that offers educational fun.

I’m looking forward to trying out some of these new LeapFrog items first hand (well, actually my kids are looking forward to it) and sharing our thoughts and reviews right here.

Review: LeapFrog Scribble and Write

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.

Designed for a Little Hands

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.

Learning Games

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
Age: 3+
MSRP: $24.00 Cdn

Leapfrog Tag or Tag Junior

So maybe you’ve read my review on the Leapfrog Tag Junior and the Leapfrog Tag, but you’re unsure which is the best to get for your child. To try and make things easier I’ve put together this little side-by-side comparison chart:

Leapfrog Tag Junior Leapfrog Tag 
age range 2 to 4 yrs 4 to 8 yrs
books small sized board books, only a few words per page hard cover, paper paged books, more words per page like an early reader book, some game pages
reading tool larger ‘buddy’ that is easy for small hands to grasp and hold on to, the reading base is wider making it easier to come in contact with areas on the page a thick pen design, tip enables point to specific words in a story or selecting smaller interactive elements on the page
interactivity introduces kids to basic concepts like colours and size, single or small word count per page increases child’s vocabulary, touching elements on the page provides surprises like sounds or dialog and encourages kids to explore flexible with your child’s reading skills (can have whole story read or child can read and use the pen to get help with tricky words, games are included to help guage child’s understanding of the story, increases the child’s vocabulary, touching different parts of the page reveals more dialog or sounds and encourages kids to explore.
compatibility Can NOT read Tag books Can use the Tag pen to read Tag Junior books also (need to download the audio and the pen will read the book just like the Junior does – whole page at a time, versus word by word), there are also learning cards and interactive boards that are designed to work with the Tag too
Learning Path connect with Leapfrog’s Learning Path to discover your child’s favourite books and pages and what they are learning connect with Leapfrog’s Learning Path to discover what activities you child enjoys most, how long they’ve spent with a book, what they are learning and how that compares to where they should be at
cost Tag Junior:$39.99 Cdn
Tag Junior book:$9.97 Cdn
Tag:$59.99 Cdn
Tag book:$14.97 Cdn
Includes USB cable, Tag Junior reader, Learning Path connect software CD-Rom, one pre-loaded book USB cable, Tag reader, Learning Path connect software CD-Rom, one pre-loaded book
Review Tag Junior Tag

I hope you find this chart helpful. We’ve tried both the Tag Junior and the Tag. My kids love the interactivity and fun involved with them; I love that they are learning while having fun. And with the Learning Path program I can see just what they are learning.

Review: Leapfrog Tag Reading System

In September we had the chance to review the new Leapfrog Tag Junior reading system, designed to encourage the love of books with kids 2 to 4. My two-year old enjoyed using the Tag Junior during her review; she still does. After that review I had a number of people ask me how the original Tag Reading System compares to the Tag Junior. So the wonderful people at Leapfrog Canada‘s public relations company sent along a Tag and the book Fly High, Fly Guy for a comparison.

Ready, Set, Read

When the Leapfrog Tag arrived my son was ecstatic. He has been using his younger sister’s Tag Junior but the reading material isn’t very challenging for a boy who is at the early reading stage. The Tag Reading System comes with the book Ozzie and Mack. The audio is preloaded on the Tag pen so my son could start using it right away, which of course he did.

Works with Tag Junior Books too

We discovered you can also use the Tag pen to read the Tag Junior books. This is great news if you already have a Tag Junior for either a younger child or your child is transitioning up to the Tag. You will need to download the audio from the Tag Junior books onto the pen. (On the audio download page, look for the Tag Junior picture on the bottom of the page). Keep in mind that the Tag will read the Tag Junior books the same way the Tag Junior reads them, as a whole page, not word by word. The Tag Junior however cannot read the Tag books.

Beyond Reading

The Leapfrog Tag Reading System can be used as a reading tool in a few different ways: you can have the whole story read to you with audio prompts to turn the pages as you follow along, you can have the story read page-by-page at your child’s pace, or your child can read and use the pen to help with the tricky words. The Tag can read each individual word that you point to.

But the Leapfrog Tag Reading System offers great learning and fun beyond just reading the story or having it read to you. Kids can use the pen to explore the page; touch elements or people in the story to hear dialog or sounds beyond the story. My son loved finding these hidden gems. He felt more involved in the story, choosing what to discover. There are also games and quizzes in the story. Your child can choose to play along or not by selecting the appropriate icon at the bottom of the page.

My five-year old son loves using the Tag. He can easily spend an hour quietly reading, learning and enjoying one of the Tag stories:

You can store a number of books on the Tag pen so switching from story to story is easy; just touch the page of the new story and the Tag pen finds the right audio clip. The interactivity of the Tag keeps the stories from becoming too repetitive and boring. Now my son loves to read along with the story. The Tag also gives my son time to explore and learn on his own, without any mom, dad or big sister looking over his shoulder.

Leapfrog’s Learning Path: Discover What your Child is Learning

Like the Tag Junior, the Leapfrog Tag Reading System is enabled with the Leapfrog Learning Path system. By connecting the Tag pen to your computer with the supplied USB cable you can discover what your child is learning. The Learning Path will tell you what books your child uses and for how long, what areas they excel in and what areas they need more practice, plus you’ll find out where they sit skill wise compared to standard levels by grade.  If you’ve never used the Learning Path program before, you will need to install the Leapfrog Connect software (CD provided).

Connecting online also enables you do download the audio for other Tag or Tag Junior books you own. Plus as your child completes sections of the book they will receive a reward, like a door hanger or maze you can printout. My son was always asking me to connect to the computer to discover what new reward he revealed. Using certain Tag books can also unlock online games for your kids to enjoy.

Fun, interactive learning

My son doesn’t have a long attention span, unless Lego is involved, but he could sit and listen, play, read and learn with the Leapfrog Tag Reading System for an hour or more. He loved interacting with the story and it’s helped him with word recognition in other stories.

Manufacturer: Leapfrog
Age: 4 to 8
MSRP ($Cdn): $59.99, includes reader, USB connection cable and one pre-loaded book
Additional Books ($Cdn): $14.97

Unsure if you should be getting the Leapfrog Tag or Leapfrog Tag Junior? Maybe my handy comparison chart will help.