Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: LeapFrog LeapPad and Tag Reader

I've written here many times before about my husband's habit of running off with cool electronic devices that I receive for review.  Recently I discovered that his sticky fingers extend to the kids' cool electronic devices as well.
That's a picture of Daniel with the kids' cool new toy from LeapFrog, the LeapPad.  Seriously,  I keep walking into the room and finding him playing with it.  The toy is suggested for ages 4-9, and Daniel is about 40 years beyond that, but he still loves it!. I'd been hearing rumors from other bloggers about how cool this toy was, so when I got the chance to host a LeapFrog party and receive a LeapPad and Tag Reader, I was absolutely thrilled.  Because of conflicting preschool schedules and my son's surgery, we ended up having not one, but two parties with our friends!

Before I get any further, here's the scoop on the new LeapPad.
From the award winning educational toy company comes LeapPad, the learning tablet just for kids. With a built-in camera, and a library of 100+ cartridge games and activities*, the durable LeapPad features innovative apps that inspire creativity and turn reading into fun and games. It's a new way to learn, a new way to play – a new way to unlock your child's potential!

As a general rule, Ethan's eyes haven't even fully opened in the morning before he starts asking for his LeapPad. So I was a little worried that he wouldn't be able to part with it long enough to show to his friends. I needn't have worried- kids figure out a way to get ahold of the cool toys! For our first LeapPad party, we just had a few friends over. Ethan and his friend L spent almost an hour sitting quietly on his bed and playing with the LeapPad.  They particularly were fans of the art studio app and drew lots of pictures.

Pre-party time on the LeapPad

He actually let his beloved little friend, L, play with the LeapPad!

In addition to the LeapPad, we also kept our friends entertained with the Tag Reader and World Map. Here's a bit about the Tag Reader and the World Map:

Learn to read with the #1 selling reading system!* The amazing touch technology of the interactive Tag Reader sounds out words, reads stories and brings books to life teaching phonics, vocabulary, comprehension skills and more.

Soar into an around-the-world adventure as you learn fun facts and play games with the two-sided Tag™ World map.
• Teaches map skills, world geography and world languages.
• Meet kid characters from around the world and learn how to say “hello” in their languages.
• More than ten interactive games bring fun characters and map facts to life.
• Parents can follow their child’s play and learning progress on the LeapFrog® Learning Path.
• Play in LeapWorld™, a safe, online learning world with more games and rewards to expand the fun.

We had a few more friends over the next week to play at our second party-
Ready to party!

Our friend D and his mom check out the World Map and discuss where friends and family live

Ethan, drawing a yellow picture

Crowded around the LeapPad

The LeapPad works like an adult tablet, with a touch screen and downloadable apps.  You can buy apps from LeapFrog. Options include games, ebooks and videos.  Also, you can buy games on cartridges that you put into the LeapPad.  The apps range from $7.50-$20, and the cartridge games seem to generally be $20-$25.  We've purchased one cartridge game and a few apps since we got our LeapPad and the kids have been enjoying them. I like that the games and apps all have a strong educational component, so my kids are learning while they play.  As I said, Ethan's a big fan of the art studio, but we also really like the e-books we've downloaded, and the app that lets the kids take pictures of themselves and their favorite toys and personalize a story. I know we will be adding more games and apps to our collection in the future!

In addition to being shown off to our friends at home, the LeapPad was a big hit with the nurses and doctors at Children's Hospital during Ethan's time there.
Playing LeapPad

Letting Vivian watch during her visit to the hospital

Ethan was pretty miserable post-op, so I was really glad to have the LeapPad on hand to distract him. We played games, read the e-books and watched videos.  It really helped two long days go a little bit faster. 

The LeapPad is a nice size for kids- big enough to hold on to, but not too heavy for little hands.  And it's small enough that I can slip it into my purse when we're out and about to have on hand when the kids need entertaining. My kids have had no problem figuring out how things work, they can turn it on, choose their game or story and get busy playing.  The LeapPad can be personalized with up to three separate profiles, and also has a guest profile. I really like this feature, since both Ethan and Vivian play with it, and the separate profiles help keep their game progress and personalized options separate.  

We also love the Tag Reader, books and World Map. My kids are still at the learning to read stage, and I know the Tag is going to be a big help in teaching them the basics.

So, our opinions?  We love the Tag Reader and LeapPad and know they will be favorite toys for a long time to come! 

Disclosure: I was selected to host a LeapFrog party and received the LeapPad, $20 app store credit, Tag Reader, Tag Books and World Map to help me entertain my friends. All opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.