Reviews - LeapFrog toys
The toys and learning systems on this page are all from LeapFrog. "LeapFrog creates award-winning educational solutions that delight, engage and inspire children to reach their potential. We know that children learn best when they’re having fun, and that every child learns differently. With solutions that are personalised to each child’s level, every day brings pure learning fun." Find out more about LeapFrog.
As well, we have reviewed a selection of toys which have been sent to us, as well as recommending some that have been a particular success at home. These will help you and your children to have fun together while they are learning.
Water and Count Vegetable Garden
This is another great interactive learning toy from Leapfrog which offers so much for children to enjoy. Encourage your child's interest in growing things as they role-play as a gardener and at the same time practise science concepts, numbers, colours, fine motor skills and counting skills. There are so many different facets to this toy that your child will be making new discoveries all the time - I know we were! The sun is rising, so it's time to press the sun button to hear about times of the day and practise planting each of the three colourful vegetables (radish, carrot and onion) - and watch the sun light up too. These can be 'planted' in the appropriate holes, then pulled up, to foster fine motor and matching skills; as they do this, the fun sound effects will be enjoyed. Slide the snail along the front when the veggies are planted to see them spin round, as well as to hear sounds and phrases. The pronunciation and phonics are aligned to the British curriculum, and the sounds are clear, perfect for children to copy. Then there's the light-up watering can which makes watering sounds when tilted - so children remember the all-important point of keeping plants watered! Turn the pages of the book to discover the life cycle of plants and what they need to grow. Flip the molehill over and discover who is hiding underneath! A trowel is included too, and this can be used to flip the molehill over. The whole lot packs into the wheelbarrow which little ones can trundle around to their heart's content. There are four songs (fun to sing along) and over a hundred phrases, sounds and musical responses, so there will be plenty of new sounds to listen out for. The vegetable garden is suitable for ages 6 months +. We have reviewed similar products in the past and it's really good to be able to say that they are still among our young testers' favourite toys, giving them fun play for many years. As we expect from Leapfrog products, it's sturdily made and will definitely withstand many hours of enthusiastic use; there are no small parts or rough edges so it's totally safe for babies and toddlers. It's a stimulating and colourful toy with many different facets to encourage imaginative play, and there's a real strength in the way it will encourage an interest in planting and growing. Plenty of fun and excellent value for money.
Leapfrog Sweet Treats Learning Cafe
The Sweet Treats Learning Cafe from Leap Frog lets your child become a barista! This is a really interactive toy and has lots of great features. It comes with:
The pastry plate holds the three desserts and the two plates can either be used as saucers for the cups or a splates for the desserts. On the front of the coffee machine is a dial with the numbers 1 to 5, these are for choosing the temperature of the drink being made and they will help your child with number recognition and counting. The red button in the centre of the grey buttons is the 'order' button. If you press this you will be given an order to get ready e.g. "We have an order for a treat with blue icing, help me get it" or "one large coffee, help me get it" as well as "we have an order for hotter drinks, turn the temperature dial to 4". Two of the skills your child will gain are learning to compare shape sizes as they are told which size drink that they need to prepare as well as memory skills as they remember what they need to do.
The other buttons surrounding the order buttons are for a babychino, hot chocolate, coffee and espresso. Once you choose the drink, or use the order button to take an order for a drink you place a cup on to the grey part of the base, it gently clicks in to place. There is a big yellow button on the top which when pressed makes the sound of coffee beans being ground and you can see the coffee beans vibrating so it makes it quite realistic. One of the really clever parts is that once the cup is clicked in to the machine, press the red star button on top and a light will shine on to the cup and it will magically fill up! Unfortunately it doesn't fill up with real coffee, but it does pop the pretend coffee back up so it looks like the cup is full again.
On the side of the machine is a milk frother, stand the milk jug under it and press the small red button with a milk jug on it and you will get the sound of frothy milk being made. The sugar pot and spoon help with the role-play fun and the plate of deserts will aid your child with shape recognition, colours and counting. The last button is a music button which plays a selection of catchy and upbeat songs for your little one to bop along to. The cups can also be kept neatly on top when not in use.
My mini reviewer has been playing with this all week, she loves role play and has got to that age where she has started to want to do what grown ups do too. It is aimed at 2 years and up but my little one is 18 months and although she doesn't understand the voice commands yet she plays with it really well, knows what she should be doing and loves bringing me cake and coffee. I think this is a great learning toy, it does so much and your child can play with it alone or with friends. There are two things that I think would make this toy absolutely perfect; changing the sugar pot and spoon in to a sugar shaker jar that makes a noise when pretending to pour, and making the milk jug more like one of those disappearing milk bottles that you get with toy dolls so it looks like the milk is disappearing when poured in to the cup. Adding these two features would bring just a little more to an already great toy. The Leap Frog Sweet Treats Cafe currently retails at £24.99 and is available from all good toy stores.
LeapFrog Mr Pencil's Scribble and Write
If we can give our children a head start when learning to write, this will help enormously when they start school. At this age, learning needs to be fun and interactive and Mr Pencil's Scribble and Write is perfect for that. The lights help young children develop early writing skills - they trace the lights to get practice. Ideally, they will start off initially drawing the simple shapes (which then turn into pictures) and then move on to to learning upper- and lowercase letters with step-by-step guidance. They can also draw their own pictures with the free drawing option. A really good feature is that the Scribble and Write automatically adjusts to the child's abilities, meaning that learning progresses smoothly and logically, always giving children the next step forward. There are also spelling options at three challenge levels. Instant accuracy feedback means the child can immediately see where they have gone wrong rather than perpetuating the error. In addition, The mode is changed through simple clearly illustrated buttons. It's perfect for travelling - compact enough to slip into a bag and no spare parts to lose! So many key early learning skills are developed by this one product including the alphabet and numbers, and early and more advanced writing skills. Children gain great satisfaction from their writing skills and it's a joy to see that develop with the aid of this excellent product - as with all educational toys, children will get the greatest benefit with some adult input especially in the early stages, although the useful accuracy feedback does reduce the need for parental input. Having said that, it is simple to use so young children won't get frustrated with it - follow the light around the screen to create the letter or number. As the Scribble and Write 'speaks' clearly to children, they can use it well before they learn to read and so it will be used for many years. The chunky pencil writes well , is attached by a safe short cord and doesn't slide across the surface; the whole product is sturdy and durable. The speech is clear for children to understand and is UK English eg z is pronounced zed. It can be used by children from around 3 years (although we found a two year old used it very happily - children just need to be able to hold a pencil correctly) . An excellent value learning aid at a really good price, which encourages letter/number formation in a fun interactive way..
This is the latest (2017) version of the LeapPad - your child's very own first tablet. LeapPad™ Ultimate is a child-safe tablet that is sold pre-loaded with web content carefully curated by learning experts to develop a range of key skills and give children a head start for learning. The core skill activities include the curriculum subjects of maths, reading and science. In addition, there are lots of other developmental activities such as puzzles, logic and creativity activities,. The extra-tough frame and shatter-proof screen mean the LeapPad can withstand the rough and tumble of daily life and this is really important with a product that offers a potential six years of use. The friendly and intuitive controls controls make this really easy even for 3 year olds to use. Our youngsters today are so technology-savvy that they will quickly work things out. We found they need a little help initially and then they are off on their learning journey with plenty of activities they can carry out independently - although for younger users, parental input remains really valuable. The responsive touch screen works well and is clear and bright. The tablet is a good size for children, easy to take out and about as required. Ideally, I suggest you get everything set up before giving it to your child. This way, you get the chance to review what is available and children won't have to wait to get going. Obviously, the response times are slower than the equipment adults are accustomed to, but this should not be an issue for the recommended age group. Children can write, draw, take photos, make videos and have access to 700+ games, eBooks and music which have all been approved by LeapFrog learning experts, available through the LeapFrog® Learning Library Just for Me™. A really essential consideration in today's world is internet safety - you can be assured that the LeapSearch™ web browser allows access to carefully vetted child-friendly content. For even greater peace of mind, use the cartridge slot and library packed with educational curriculum for offline play. The level of parental control shows a real concern for children and their safety; there are parental controls with password protection, the ability to set play time limits (this is a really good way to ensure screen time is limited and hard for children to argue with). On a practical note, the rechargeable lithium ion battery lasts up to 6 hours and the LeapPad includes Wi-Fi, peer-to-peer play, front and back camera/video recorders and MP3 player. The camera is perfect for this age group and allows children to take early steps in photography simply but with perfectly acceptable results that will satisfy their creative instincts and build enthusiasm to develop this skill. The LeapPad Ultra comes with 15 pre-loaded apps including: photo fun ultra, art studio ultra, pet pad party, utility suite, pet chat and LeapFrog learning songs. There are a huge range of additional apps which can be purchased from the Leapfrog site, ensuring that the LeapPad gives your child many years of use with a huge resource base covering all the recommended years. The recommended age is 3 to 9 years so this really is excellent value for something that will be used for so many years. An excellent educational toy which you won't regret buying. First impressions are that it is durable and robust. I foresee many hours of fun and learning with this well designed tablet that is the ideal introduction to tablets, and provides a whole host of carefully selected software.
LeapFrog Read with Me Scout
Scout is a lovely friendly character who features in many Leapfrog toys, so children will recognise him instantly. They will respond well to the cuddly toy with his fluffy coat and plush ears, tail and spot, making him the perfect interactive way to introduce early reading skills. Scout makes reading fun as he reads to the child from the five books which are included. The books are Book 1: Pattern; Book 2: Narrative; Book 3 Concept; Book 4: Rhyming and Book 5: Learn About, which give children a graded introduction to reading skills, getting them off to a head start with a variety of skills.
After Scout has read each page, children should answer his questions (over 70 of them), which engage children and enhance their comprehension skills. They will be relaxed and confident about reading to Scout, with none of the self-consciousness that can sometimes come when reading to adults. Read with Me Scout has five interactive touch points - pat his head to turn the page; press his right paw to listen to learning songs; squeeze his left paw and he will talk to you; pat his back to answer his questions and kiss his cheek to listen to phrases about friendship. His collar has five buttons, which relate to the number and colour of the books. There are two modes - sleepy time, to listen to a book and lullabies, and reading mode. The speech is distinctive and clear, easy for children to follow Read With Me Scout is suitable for 2-5 years, and is an excellent way to introduce children to the basics of printed books, vocabulary and reading.
LeapFrog Count and Colours Band
Friendly Scout is here to help children learn colours and numbers.As with all LeapFrog products, there are plenty of different learning opportunities. As young ones listen to five instruments and explore three learning modes they will start to learn about cause and effect, as they realise that it is what they are doing is having the desired result. There are five colourful instruments for baby to play and each of the instruments is moulded to the appropriate shape and requires a different action to make it work - a good way to develop manipulative skills. Scout plays a light-up piano too. Every press, pull, tap, twist or wobble gets Scout bopping, playing and singing, helping babies connect what they do with the effect. The music will encourage movement and once little ones are walking, they will love to dance along to the groovy tunes. Little ones can explore in three different modes to discover colour names, numbers, musical genres and instruments, all accompanied by rock star Scout. There is so much packed into this, making it an excellent early learning toy. The sound effects are very clear and sharp, making the words perfect for young ones to imitate; the musical instruments sound good too. It's ideal for babies, as it's perfect to use for 'tummy time'. Suitable for 6 months plus, this is an excellent toy with lots of learning value, and one that will grow with your child.
Perfect for babies right from birth, this is a lovely way to soothe your child off to sleep. This multi-purpose 2-in-1 nightlight and torch has two modes.In night time mode, young ones will be soothed off to sleep with glowing stars and numbers that fade from red to blue to green. I tried this in a fair-sized room, and the colours lit up the walls and ceiling softly but effectively; it's a good way to introduce numbers 1,2, 3 and first colours. Easy controls let parents choose 10 or 20 minutes of the glowing stars and numbers; another switch offers the options of solar wind, environmental sounds or special lullabies sung by Scout, again for 10 or 20 minutes. The sounds really are soothing, and will work well with the youngest babies. The volume can be set to low, high or mute for a soothing ride to sleep. In torch mode, Scout’s Goodnight Light projects all eight planets onto the wall and astro-pups Scout and Violet invite children to explore the solar system, count stars, find colours and more; perfect for little ones as they wind down to sleep time, gazing up at the ceiling. The sounds are, like all Leapfrog products, very clear and little ones will find the words easy to hear, as well as enjoying the clarity of the songs - they will, as they get older, enjoy singing along. Attractively shaped as a space rocket, and with a neat handle perfect for little hands, the green, purple and blue make it suitable for girls and boys. It's an excellent product that offers many aspects neatly packaged into one light; a product that will provide pleasure for many years. A lovely present to give a new baby, and one they will enjoy right through pre-school years.
|LeapFrog have kindly offered the following helpful information to help your children adjust when the clocks go back. |
With the nights starting to draw in, we’re finally accepting that it is well and truly autumn. One thing to look forward to is the extra hour in bed we’ll get when the clocks go back an hour. But whilst the grown-ups might be dreaming of a lie-in, the little ones might have other ideas and for some parents the very mention of the clocks changing brings visions of unsettled, sleep-deprived children. We at LeapFrog have come up with five tricks for easing kids through the transition as seamlessly as possible, meaning that you might get that extra hour of blissful sleep after all!
1. Start delaying bedtime It’s best to start easing little ones into their new routine a few weeks earlier so that they don’t even notice it. Gradually alter bedtime by around 10 minutes a few days beforehand so that their body clock slowly adjusts too.
2. Keep bedrooms dark Keeping your child’s room as dark as possible is extremely advantageous to a good night’s sleep. However, if your little one is afraid of the dark, night lights can be very useful. Scout’s Goodnight Light is the perfect bedtime companion with glowing stars and soothing music, helping children drift off to sleep with ease.
3. Maintain a bedtime routine Whilst you might adopt the 10 minutes earlier trick, it’s important to keep the routine the same. Changing into pyjamas, brushing teeth and bedtime stories should be kept in the same order, so that confusion is kept at a minimum.
4. Relaxation time Having some time to wind down before getting into bed helps to relax children for bedtime. Turn off the TV and any kid-friendly tablets at least an hour before bedtime and encourage some non-stressful activities with a milky, warm drink!
5. Praise, praise, praise! As we all know, children thrive on praise. Reward them for making these simple changes and you never know, you may even get that extra hour!
LeapFrog LeapStart Primary School Interactive Learning System
Designed for Reception and Year 1 children, this helps the development of essential school and life skills in a lively, engaging and fun-filled way; children will gain so many skills while thinking they are playing. The system works with a library of replayable activity books which can be purchased separately - we received the LeapFrog LeapStart Year 1 Activity Book: Space Science and Thinking Like a Scientist; see below for additional books for both systems. It comes with a sampler book, 'Let's Play'. Usefully, you can slot a book into the device to carry it around easily. The LeapStart is solidly made and folds up neatly, clipping into place to keep it safe.The range of supporting books is excellent, including everything from STEM to social skills, reading comprehension to communication and problem solving to scientific thinking; you do need to purchase additional books to benefit from the system. The underlying technology is a small camera in the stylus that reads invisible dots on every page, triggering engaging audio. Using the stylus, tapping a page activates audio responses and play activities designed to keep them engaged and coming back for more; we really found this to be the case when using the Space Science book, which kept my 5 year old tester engrossed for ages; the technology is easy for our techno-savvy youngsters to use with very little adult help. It does take a while to set up, so I recommend that you have it ready for use before giving to your child. Each book in the library is includes over 30 activities. Each learning level teaches 50+ key skills, from maths to global awareness, the LeapStart library supports core and life skills that complement school. LeapStart interactive learning system includes a resilient portable device with a stylus (this slots into the case) that teaches proper handwriting grip ( a really important feature, this, but the cable makes it a little awkward for a left-hander). The stylus activates buttons that trigger games and activities, or give hints and clues. There is a link to a very practical downloadable Guide to Getting Kids Ready for School. The really impressive part of the system is the wide range of activities available through the additional books, which mean that the product really will engage children fully through Reception and KS1.
LeapFrog LeapStart Preschool Interactive Learning System
Leapfrog Number Loving Oven
Young children are like sponges - they absorb so much and we need to make the most of that by providing stimulating learning toys; this is a perfect example of a toy which is great fun to play with but which also covers a range of early learning skills. The singing oven helps with counting, sharing and vocabulary skills - and my young testers thoroughly enjoyed dancing to the music. They can press the chef's hat for the learning songs, or listen and learn along to fun phrases; over 30 in all. The slider moves from one to five and produces different songs each time when the song button is pressed; the dial produces sentences. Opening the oven door gives phrases about sharing, so children can copy. The hob sizzles (quite realistically!) when the frying pan is put on it. The speech is easy to understand and there are two volume levels. There are 16 pieces in all - the oven, 4 pizza slices, 3 slices of bread, 2 cup cakes, a fried egg, a frying pan, a spatula, a baking tray and 2 plates; all this is excellent for role play, as children love serving up food. Early maths concepts are covered, including the parts that make a whole and dividing using the pizza and loaf of bread which fasten together. Children will also learn the basics about heat by using the slider and listening to the words. Finished playing? No problem - everything stores inside the oven; a really good feature so all the parts stay together, and it can be carried around easily, even by a child. It's a great combination of educational and role play toy, which will really help with learning early skills; it's one of those toys that is bound to become a big favourite.