When it comes to education and little people, I am a tremendous believer in unstructured play (often involving dirt and mess). In fact, a few years ago, I was the sort of parent who shunned the majority of battery operated learning toys. As my first child grew (as did my experiences in parenting) my perspective shifted a bit (along with some of my other parenting philosophies). I’m still a huge proponent of learning through creative play, but also see how appropriate time with fun educational devices can enhance the learning process.
Over the past eight months, I’ve had the chance to review many LeapFrog products and learn about the extensive process of consumer and educational research involved in their product development. I am incredibly impressed with the LeapPad2 Explorer (and not just because I’ve been able to repo my iPad). I appreciate that it can be programmed to the child’s specific level, is virtually indestructible, and isn’t directly connected to the Internet (unlike the iPad and its strong temptation to solely YouTube). The high educational quality of LeapFrog’s content is ingeniously presented in a fun and exciting way that my own children enjoy.
Lucia has been quite empowered by taking on the “teacher” role while helping her little brother learn to use his LeapPad. They are definitely not the sort of toys that are quickly forgotten about and left on a shelf.
Our LeapPads recently made our (expected) hour long wait at our pediatrician’s office (while hungry!) pretty painless. The kiddos created and compared pictures in the art studio app and took care of their virtual pets in the Pet Pad writing app (both apps come free with the LeapPad 2).
Lucia also captured her own photos and video on her LeapPad 2, while taking in Petite Parade’s Kids Fashion Week in NYC from front row seating:
I recently had an insider view of the makings of LeapFrog’s newest Ultra eBook Mr. Pencil and the Lost Colors of Doodleburg, through a teleconference with the eBook’s creation team. Mr Pencil (created for ages 4 – 7) helps strengthen writing skills through various entertaining handwriting activities. The handwriting components in Mr Pencil are sequenced in a developmentally appropriate way, teaching proper stroke order. The writing activities begin with basic letter strokes (comprised of vertical and horizontal lines) and gradually move to letters comprised of curved and angled lines.
As a parent, I appreciate that the game is customizable. The reading component is auto-leveled with three different tiers, and the handwriting portions also have separate learning levels. Thus catering to a wide range of learners, including some children who may be strong readers but need to build their writing skills..
The storyline is definitely entertaining as the player must help Mr. Pencil and friends rescue the colors (representing creativity and imagination) form the (non-scary) villain Dr. Dull. Lucia connected to Mr. Pencil immediately, and I’ve observed her taping on words to see their definition in an animated virtual dictionary. As she has progressed on to the next level, she sees longer sentence structure and a more sophisticated vocabulary than the previous level. Like all LeapFrog Learning games, the child becomes an integral part of the storyline, making it a fun adventure while building fundamental skills.
Leapfrog is providing one lucky reader with a LeapPad 2 (in the winner’s choice of green or pink) and Mr. Pencil Ultra eBook (total MSRP $120). Enter to win in my below rafflecopter. This contest is open to US only and the winning entry will be verified. Good luck to all!
Leap Frog provided me with a LeapPad 2 and a Mr. Pencil Ultra eBook for review purposes. As in all my review, all opinions expressed in this post are my own. To see my previous reviews of other LeapFrog Learning products, click on “LeapFrog” under my labels widget.