Tablets for Kids: LeapPad3 Review

LeapPad3 review
 

Our original LeapPad is still going strong, so when I was given the opportunity to review the new LeapPad3 I thought it would be fun to see how much it has improved. I was impressed! The LeapPad3 is as durable as ever, but more responsive and faster with a better camera. It has built-in Wi-Fi that parents can turn on to download apps and track kids’ progress. The Wi-Fi can then be left on or turned off for while kids are using the tablet. I leave ours on, since the LeapPad3 has a child-safe search function that I really like. My kids are starting to want to look things up on the computer, but I haven’t found a filter that I completely trust for regular computer searches. On the LeapPad3 I can let my kids search away, knowing that they won’t find anything inappropriate. My kids are especially fond of the cat videos!
All of the apps that we have for our original LeapPad transferred over without any trouble. Like previous LeapPads, you are limited to LeapFrog apps, which you have to pay for. They do tend to be well-designed, and the tablet comes with enough apps to keep your kids busy so that you only need to buy extras if you want to. The camera is better (although there is still room for improvement there). It is nice to have a still and video camera that the kids can play around with, and they like that there is both a front and back camera. The LeapPad3 has a built-in battery, so no more worrying about having AA batteries (or about kids taking the cover off the batteries). The battery life seems pretty good – I haven’t timed it, but so far we are not charging it very often!

I took a little video to give you a better idea of how this tablet looks and works. As you can tell from Johnny begging for a turn, it is a big hit with all of the kids! If you are looking for a durable tablet with Have you ever owned a LeapPad? What do you look for when you are shopping for technology your kids can use?

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with LeapFrog and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Looking to buy a LeapPad3 for your kids? Save 25% off $20 with code Labor25. Valid 8/18 through 9/2! Note: this is an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting my site!

GB Ellum Stroller Review (sponsored post)

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for GB. I received a gift card to purchase a GB stroller to both facilitate my review as well as thank me for my participation.

The new GB Ellum stroller - approved by my toddler

I ADORE strollers – it’s one of the things I am famous/infamous for among my real-life friends (and family). So today I am thrilled to be reviewing the new lightweight GB Ellum stroller – and, as you can tell from the photo, 23-month-old Anna was equally thrilled!

All of my children have inherited my stroller mania, actually! They thoroughly enjoyed coming along with me to Babies R Us to purchase the stroller, and were eager to open the box as soon as we got home:

opening the GB Ellum stroller

There are a few things I look for in my strollers:

  • Comfortable for the baby/toddler
  • Great maneuverability
  • Easy fold/unfold
  • Easy push
  • Storage space

This stroller meets all of these criteria! I ran it over dead grass, live grass, tree bark, and mud with no issues. The stroller was also very stable. Some of the lightweight strollers can be easily tipped by exuberant siblings; this one does not have that problem. It has a small footprint, which makes it great for maneuvering small shops and narrow sidewalks. The one thing I would tell parents to be aware of is that the seat is in a fairly relaxed recline even in its most upright position. Anna loves this, and chills out as soon as I strap her in, but some children might prefer a more upright seat.

GB Ellum stroller review - lightweight and works as a travel system

Don’t be fooled by the small footprint – this is a stroller that will definitely grow with your child! It can work as a travel system (with the Chicco Keyfit and Graco Snugride infant seats), and there is plenty of space for Anna to grow – even though, at 23 months, she is the same height as several of her three-year-old friends! Tall almost-five-year-old Lily can easily fit into this seat. The basket looks small, but it holds a surprisingly large amount of stuff, although you do have to access it from the front (by lifting up the leg rest – easily done).

Lightweight strollers - the GB Ellum

The stroller fold is one of my favorite features! See the text in the bottom of the seat? There is a red pull bar just below the text. To fold the sit, you kick up the middle of the back bar and then pull on the strap. The stroller locks in place so that it can stand on its own while folded. To unfold, simply release the latch, open the stroller, and press down on the rear center bar to lock the stroller in the open position.

Reviewing the GB Ellum lightweight stroller - love the canopy

This photo shows the removable cup holder (rear right). I know this is important to a lot of parents. I don’t particularly like cup holders (I find them bulky), so I was glad that this one was removable. It also showcases the generous canopy (only partially unfolded in this photo) as well as the plush strap covers, which are very comfy and soft.

I even included a video to showcase the fold and canopy, which are difficult to share using photos.

What features do you look for in a stroller?

I was sent a gift card to purchase this stroller. All opinions are my own. You can learn more about the GB Ellum and other GB products by following them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Learning to Read With BOB Books

Reading BOB Books on our Kindle

We own several sets of BOB Books, and they have played a strong role in my three older kids learning to read, so we were thrilled to review some of their new Kindle books (the same books you buy in print, but available for Kindle – links are affiliate links, and anything purchased through them may earn a small commission for this site. Thank you!). My kids adore the traditional print BOB Books – little Anna even went through a phase where she had to bring at least one BOB Book every where she went. She even slept with them! We will continue to read these boxed sets, but it’s wonderful to be able to read them on the go with our Kindle Fire! Johnny can easily read through most of the traditional BOB Books, and he will easily read through an entire set on our Kindle.

Learning to read with BOB Books

BOB Books are fabulous early readers for kids who want to have full command of the text that they read. The short stories gives early readers a nice sense of accomplishment. The plots are limited due to word choice, but my kids often find them entertainingly silly, and they enjoy the simple illustrations. We got the small BOB Books like the one that Anna is holding in the photo above from Scholastic’s book club; everywhere else they seem to come in the larger size that Johnny is reading.

Learning to read with BOB Books early readers

BOB Books also recently expanded their book offerings into more advanced level 1 readers. Johnny was so excited to see these first in the library, and then when we were sent a couple to review! The plots and text are more advanced, and the illustrations have more detail. I’m hoping that these will soon become available for the Kindle, also!

Do your kids love BOB Books? What books have your early readers loved?

Transporting Kids with the Taga Bike

Taga bike wooden seat review at mamasmiles.com

I’ve written about our Taga Bike before, and how it can convert in under a minute (even with me doing the converting) from a bike to a stroller. Taga sent us their wooden double seat to review, and it has gotten a lot of use carting Lily to and from preschool!

transporting kids with the Taga cargo bike

This sturdy seat has a rain cover, which is also great for keeping the kids warm on chilly mornings. You can either hook it together quickly with the elastics on the ends (what we usually do for cold weather):

Using the rain cover on the wooden double seat for the taga bike - full review at mamasmiles.com

Or you can zip the sides securely shut for when you really need to keep the rain out. In a full-on rainstorm, a little water will get in through the wooden handles you see in the photo above – but only in a real downpour.

Zipping the rain cover on the wooden double seat for the taga bike - full review at mamasmiles.com

When the weather is nice, Lily and Anna prefer to ride with the sides rolled up. They wave and yell hi to random people (and cars) that we pass on the street. About half the time people ask what kind of nifty contraption they are riding in.

Alternatives to car transporation for families - taga bike review at mamasmiles.com

Taga also offers a second seat that attaches to the blue seat at the end of this post (which was featured in my first post about the taga bike). You can still use the Taga in stroller mode with the second fabric seat, but not with this wooden seat. I still prefer the wooden seat since it allows enough space to fit backpacks or other items in addition to kids – and because it has the rain cover for wet or cold days. Right now, Taga is even offering the wooden seat for free when you purchase a Taga Bike-Stroller!

reviewing the taga bike at mamasmiles.com

This seat was a little challenging to put together – I put the hood on backwards (the pocket should be facing the rider) – but we left it that way because it fits (although that’s why the fabric is wrinkled) and it allows more room for taller riders like Mike – who at 6’2” is definitely on the taller end for riding this bike. He makes it work, though! I’m about 5’7”, and the seat is about perfect for me when it’s at its tallest height. Here is a video clip of it in action:

 
I also wanted to add a few photos showing how the bike transforms from bike to stroller mode with the single seat. Here it is in bike mode.

Taga bike review - single seat and wooden double seat review at mamasmiles.com

You can lift the seat off without having to unstrap your child, and sit them on the ground – so they remain strapped in (and unable to run off into the street). Then you lower the seat:

converting the taga bike from bike mode to stroller mode. Full review at mamasmiles.com

Lift a handle with the press of a button, flip the back wheel into the front, and snap the handle back in place. Notice that this happened so quickly (even with me photographing the steps) that Anna isn’t remotely worried about sitting on the ground.

the taga bike switching into stroller mode. Full review at mamasmiles.com

Snap the seat back into place, and you’re good to go. This works if you have the single mode basket on, also (see the photos in my original taga review post) – but I had taken it off to use the wooden seat, and didn’t bother to put it back on to photograph these steps. Anna prefers using the bike in bike mode because she likes to go fast, but she prefers riding in the Taga in stroller mode over our actual stroller, so the seat must be pretty comfy.

The taga bike in stroller mode. Full review at mamasmiles.com

What is your favorite way to get around with kids?

Learning Through Play with Spielgaben

playing with spielgaben

I first wrote about Spielgaben educational toys about a year ago; I’m back today to write about the new, three-tray presentation that we were sent to review – it is the same product, but a new presentation, and extended curriculum. Even if you missed my post last year, followers on Instagram will recognize this toy. We play with it several times a week, and I love seeing the ways my kids use this toy!

Spielgaben comes in the three stacking trays that you see above, as well as the wooden lid that my children love to use as a play base. You can pull out a single tray, only a couple trays, or all three. The lid fits on any of the three trays, so it doesn’t matter which order you stack them in.

space shuttle built using Spielgaben wooden blocks

Spielgaben is an investment toy, partly because it is so well-designed and made, and partly because it is really several toys in one. Sometimes my kids focus in on one component – especially the wooden blocks, which they love using to build spaceships (above) and made-up board games (below). The quarter circle pieces lend themselves to some especially interesting board setups!

playing with spielgaben wooden blocks

More frequently, the kids combine different components, like using the rods with the wooden beads below:

beads on wooden posts - spielgaben play

They create incredibly complex games that they play, sometimes adding in a few other toys from the house (usually as board game pieces).

creating a game using Spielgaben

Spielgaben has always come with a curriculum, but they recently updated their curriculum, adding new components and separating it into several separate PDF files – more manageable both for reading on a computer or tablet as well as for printing. In the photo below you can see some grapes and a little chick that Lily made after seeing photos of them in our curriculum, which I printed and put in a binder in page protectors.

building with Spielgaben

Spielgaben is excellent fine motor skills practice! Here, Johnny is teaching Anna how to string beads. She still struggles to do this with the included shoelace.

stinging Spielgaben beads

But she is great at threading beads on the wooden rods!

placing Spielgaben beads on sticks

Have you played with Spielgaben? Wanting to buy a set for your own family? Spielgaben is generously offering their set to readers of this blog for a discounted price: AUD 360 | USD 328 | GBP 200 including shipping to AU | USA | UK. This is over 10% off the already discounted online price. All you need to do is send them an email at info@spielgaben.com and they will send you a discount coupon.

What are some of your favorite educational toys?