LeapFrog Letter Factory Adventures – The Letter Machine Rescue Team

We had a  long weekend at Granny and Poppy’s house.  Two full days of time well spent with family always serve as a reminder of what is truly important.  With plenty of little ones frolicking around, we certainly kept the Grandparents on their toes.  Kiddie-spazz-attack hour never ceases to emerge during our big family gatherings. I often find myself worrying that little co-conspirators will ride a double-stuffed coaster car into a wall propelling something lovely or fragile into ultimate destruction.

Our LeapFrog viewing party arrived at a perfect hour, and little ones were thrilled to stay up late. Whoo Hoo! I think we all appreciated a bit of evening calm as the kids enjoyed watching  LeapFrog Letter Factory Adventures, The Letter Machine Rescue Team DVD.

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Through adorable animated characters and catchy songs, the Letter Machine Rescue Team takes viewers on a problem-solving quest to make the Letter Factory ready for its grand opening.

The fun characters:  Leap, Tad, Lilly and friends, utilize science, math, creativity and problem solving to fix problems that they face along the ways.  As they become “junior engineers” they explore, design, build, test and improve several Letter Factory issues in captivating ways.  The kids enjoyed the  fun demonstration of adjectives and consonant blends as animated letters work together as a team to make up words.  The entire kiddie-clan was hooked for the 35 minute running time – and the educational rich content helps me do away with the “mommy guilt” I seem to associate with TV.  Although this DVD is recommended for ages 4-7 – I found it helpful for the younger set as well – as it reinforces colors, letter recognition and comparisons.


The Letter Machine Rescue Team is now available at LeapFrog.com and amazon.com.

LeapFrog provided products.  Opinions, as always, are my own. 

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LeapFrog Adventure Sketchers Review + LeapPad2 Power & Game {Giveaway}

It’s been a while since we’ve shared a LeapFrog review and our recent test run with their Adventure Sketchers! Draw, Play, Create innovative game was so fantastic that we had to elaborate here.  Adventure Sketchers allows budding gamers to take ownership of their adventures.  The players design a heroic main character to navigate a customizable quest in the Kingdom of Gru, full of action, recordable sound effects, and endless creativity.

Meet Misaga Rainbow Blaster Master.  She is part Ninja Warrior, part Giant Panda (note her black and white legs).  Her rainbow powers (which exist in her right hand only) contain purposeful love air.  She is six year old imagination brought to life, much to the delight of her creator, my daughter, Lucia P.

Adventure Sketchers Review, LeapFrog Adventure Sketchers Review, LeapPad Giveaway The ability to design and create characters and several story elements (flowers that shoot lasers, heart energizers and various platforms to use as aids) are what makes Adventure Sketchers a stand out game. My kids have had fun playing with pants man (literally just a pair of pants without a body), and crafting an entire game around potty humor (complete with voiceovers and sound effects).  Best of all, the children’s one-of-a-kind creations can be saved for future game play.  The creative possibilities truly are endless as the game emphasizes art instruction, storytelling, story building, and problem solving.

Win It:

LeapFrog LeapPad Giveaway

LeapFrog is giving away a LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet (complete with one-step-recharger) and Adventure Sketchers! Draw, Play, Create cartridge to one lucky MB reader.  Simply enter to win in the rafflectopter below.  All entries are verified (US only please), and a winner will be selected in one week. Best of luck and thanks for visiting!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

As a LeapFrog Motherboard blogger, I receive product for testing.  Find my previous LeapFrog reviews under the label LeapFrog.   As always, opinions are strictly my own.

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My Top Holiday Gifts For Kids & A LeapPad Ultra {Giveaway}

We’ve been busy rounding up our top holiday picks for children!  I’ve met with brands at toy shows here in the city, and put my own toy testers to work at home.  My gift guide reflects some new products that we are excited about, a few of our favorite well-loved toys and one powerful gift that I hope everyone will consider giving.  There is also an exciting giveaway!

UntitledPicMonkey Collage

1)  LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Learning Tablet:  This learning tablet has topped the “hot toy” lists this season for several reasons.  With a 7-Inch hi-resolution screen, kid-safe Wi-Fi (with parental controls), and 8 GB of memory – this kid tablet feels and functions like one built for adults.  My kids have been enjoying the 11 included apps, the front-and-back cameras, and the ability to text message each other.  Mama loves the built-in rechargeable battery and the fact that we can play our “old” games on it (it works with LeapFrog’s library of 800+ apps, games, eBooks, videos, music and more).  I have three words for those thinking of purchasing an adult tablet for a child: Leapfrog. Won’t. Break.  Purchase the LeapPad Ultra at LeapFrog.com for $149.99.

2)  Goldie Blox and the Parade Float: I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a toy designed to inspire the next generation of female engineers! Lucia has been having incredible fun creating structures while building her problem-solving skills.  She has constructed all of the projects in the included book and made many of her own vehicles.  This is absolutely my go-to birthday party gift for Lucia’s female friends.  This product retails for $19.99 and is currently sold out on the Goldie Blox website. I did find some Goldie Blox products on amazon.com (but be prepared to pay higher prices).

3)  Paper Culture Memory Game:  This eco-friendly memory game is unlike any other because it is personalized!  A photo can be selected for each of the game pieces (hello grandparents, pets and those special baby photos!!).  I can’t wait to create one for my nephew and my own kiddos.  Best of all – Paper Culture plants a tree with every order.  Order it at Paper Culture for $24.99.

4)  31″ Giant Darth Vader If you have an action figure lover, I imagine that he/she will be thrilled with one of JAKKS Pacific’s GIANT iconic superheros.  I can’t wait to see the look on my son’s face when he meets the biggest Darth that he has ever seen.  Find it at ToysRUs for $34.99.

5)  Shimmer n Sparkle Cra-Z-Loom Rubber Band Bracelet Maker.  This is the one toy that my 6 year-old is asking for this year.  In addition to the bracelet maker it includes 600 latex-free assorted-color rubber bands, The “S” hook special weaving tools and an illustrated booklet.  Find it on sale at ToysRUs for $11.99.

6)  Safari LTD figuresThese hand painted educational toys make perfect stocking stuffers.   I especially like their safariology science collection including solar system figures and life cycle replicas.  Find them at Michaels.

7)  Deluxe Pixie Party Fashion DollsA recent trip to Disney World renewed my daughter’s fairy interests.  What’s cooler than seeing Tinkerbell fly?  These dolls have an updated look and are sure to please the doll lover.  Find them at Walmart for $16.99.

8)  Hape Toys All Seasons House (Furnished) Toy SetOf all the toys that my kids have played with over the years, they have gotten the most use out of toy houses and farms.   I happen to love this open wooden design (complete with parts). Find it at Hayneedle, currently on sale for $180.

9)  Hugg-A-Planet Planet PillowAs parents, I think it’s important to raise global citizens with an understanding of different cultures and communities.  I bought this pillow shortly after having my first child, and it has functioned as a pillow, a ball and an educational tool.  For the record, the kids also have a real globe, and it’s been glued back to its stand more times than I can count! Find this one for $30 at one of our favorite NYC stores, Piccolini.

10)  Rainbow in My Room by Uncle MiltonMy husband purchased this amazing rainbow projector for Christmas last year.  It has become a magical part of the kids’ bedtime routine as it projects a colorful rainbow on their bedroom wall.  Best of all, it has an auto shut-off.  Find it at Barnes & Noble for $24.95.

11)  Marble Sparks Twas The Mouse Who Saved ChristmasWe reviewed this book last year, and pulling it out again this year made me realize how special it is.  Books are fantastic gifts and personalization makes it a meaningful present to give.  Order it from Marble Sparks for $29.95.

12)  Modern-Twist New York Placemat and Markers Coloring Set:  I really like this Big-Apple themed 100% recyclable reusable place mat.  With kid-safe dry erase markers, it’s sure to offer hours of coloring fun.  Find it at Barneys for $25.

13)  Oxfam America Unwrapped Gifts: Last but not least is my favorite gift of all – a gift that does great good.  Oxfam is a nonprofit organization committed to creating lasting solutions to hunger, poverty and injustice.  We have previously given Oxfam and Heifer International gifts in family members names, and believe that giving gifts that do good is an integral part of the Holidays.  These gifts are also a great way to instill the gift of giving in young children.  From school meal programs to mosquito nets, chickens and even midwife training – these gifts give support to Oxfam worldwide programs in over 90 Countries.  Kids can help select gifts for family members via the web.  Perhaps scale back on the toy purchases to give Oxfam gifts to children too.  Visit the Oxfam website for more information (these lasting gifts begin at only $18).

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Win It:  I’m happy to share that I’ve teamed up with LeapFrog to giveaway one of the hottest toys of the season – their award winning LeapPad Ultra.  LeapFrog is one of the first brands that I started working with and I’m thrilled that someone will start off the new year with the ultimate kids’ learning tablet.
LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Giveaway
To enter:
UPDATE:  Congratulations to winner Linda C!
  • Simply leave a comment below.
  • A third entry will be given to Marino Bambinos followers on twitter.
Please leave a separate comment telling me how you follow (three comments total).  A winner will be selected via random.org on December 26th, and the prize will ship in the new year.  Please note that this contest is open to US only.  Happy Holidays and my best to you all!
Special thanks to Time To Play and The Big Toy Book for having me at their holiday toy shows.  Samples of items 1 – 7 were provided.  Item 11 was reviewed last year.  As always, opinions are strictly my own.
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The LeapFrog Learning Path App

I spend a lot of time searching for engaging educational projects to work on with my children.  I often find it challenging to determine sound resources tailored to Adrian and Lucia’s ages and learning levels.  LeapFrog recently launched an intuitive free educational tool for parents on iTunes, called the Learning Path.  Although I was in no way obligated to write about it, I’ve found the Learning Path app to be a helpful resource.

Upon logging into the app with my account information (this can also be manually added for new LeapFrog users), customized learning activities, expert suggestions, printable educational materials, educational craft tips and so much more appeared.  The app works concurrently with our LeapFrog-connected products to give insight into my children’s progress and areas that need reinforcement. The recommended LeapFrog apps (available for purchase) offer great suggestions for each of my children and are not placed too frequently throughout the app – it never feels like an advertisement.

LeapFrog Leanring Path App

LeapFrog Free Learning Path App

The Learning Path app offers tailored learning “scrolls” for each child, curated by months.  My children like that many of the activities are related to current events and Holidays (as seen in their classrooms).  The expert Q & A’s are impressively on par with my current questions about my children – offering suggestions about how to get my nursery schooler to open up about his day at school, and how to talk to my first grader about loosing (she likes to be the winner!).  I even found activities aligned with the common core standards (that are  currently taught in schools).  In a short period of  time, my five year old became much more confident with “skip counting” which will enable her to tackle more complex math algorithms with ease.  The learning activity suggestions are fun, and are clearly curated by the same team of learning experts behind the creation of LeapFrog’s valuable educational products.

To learn more about the LeapFrog’s Learning Path, visit www.leapfrog.com/en/learning-path.

I was not obligated to write this post and was not compensated.   I am happy to share this free resource with readers.

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LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power Prize Pack {Giveaway}

As some of you may already know, we are huge LeapFrog Fans.  As a LeapFrog Parent, I’ve had the chance to work closely with the brand for about a year and a half now and experience their innovative products in my children’s hands.  LeapFrog has effectively supported Lucia and Adrian’s learning and development in fun and engaging ways.  One of the reasons why I enjoy partnering with LeapFrog is because they are always eager to spread the learning love!  LeapFrog is generously following up on yesterday’s interview post with an exciting giveaway!  One lucky winner will win a LeapPad2 Power (winner picks color), 2 game cartridges (may be different than the ones pictured below) and a $20 App Center Download Code ($170.00 Value).

LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power Giveaway

 

Win It!

To Enter: Simply leave a comment below.

Extra Entries will be given to Marino Bambinos followers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (Please leave a separate comment for each entry/follow).

An Extra Entry can be earned by sharing this giveaway on Facebook (tag @MarinoBambinos and @LeapFrog, and please include the post link).

An Extra Entry can be earned by sharing this giveaway on Twitter:  Enter to #win a @LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power Prize Pack #giveaway from @MarinoBambinos:http://bit.ly/15Th3d2.   Or create your own tweet including handles MarinoBambinos, LeapFrog, and post link.

Six entries total and please leave a separate comment for each.  This giveaway is open to US only, and a winner will be selected via random.org on October 20th.  Best of luck and thanks for your readership!

UPDATE: Congratulations to winner Liz A!  An email has been sent.

LeapFrog provided me with products, however, all opinions in this post are my own.  View my previous LeapFrog reviews under the label LeapFrog.

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Navigating Educational Apps – An Interview With LeapFrog’s Dr. LeVos

Our kids are growing up in an ever-changing digital age.  Children are utilizing technology from earlier ages as a variety of technologies surround our everyday lives.  When used wisely, the right products can be effective tools to support learning and development.  But with a rapidly-expanding selection of apps and educational games – it can be challenging for parents to determine what to purchase.

For the second time, I  had the chance to interview child development and learning expert Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos, the math and science development expert at LeapFrog’s learning team.  I asked her questions about identifying the best educational games and apps, limiting screen time, and the buzz surrounding the new LeapPad UltraShe gives some helpful tips about making informed choices that maximize fun learning opportunities for children.

 
LeapFrogLeapFrog products were provided to facilitate this interview.  All opinions and nasally, loud voice (I had a cold) are my own. 

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