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Learn, Create, and Share: Leapfrog Party!

LeapFrog party kit from LeapFrog and MomSelect

I like LeapFrog products. Emma learned all her letter sounds from the LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD, and I even used to get her to take naps by singing the song from the show (the “Every Letter Makes a Sound” song, that goes through each letter with its sound). If only that worked with on-strike-from-naps Lily! Being picked by MomSelect as a host for a LeapFrog-sponsored party got our entire family excited – especially when the party package (pictured above) arrived!

Emma explores the world via the LeapFrog Tag Interactive World Map

The kids and I had played with this world map at a friend’s house, and I had toyed with the idea of getting one. My kids love it, and somehow the combination of the tag pen with the map is helping them understand geography beyond what the massive world map, globe, and other geography-enhancing tools I have been using achieved. Plus, it’s pretty adorable to hear Lily chanting, “Afghanistan. Libya. China. Bolivia.” as she moves the pen around the map. Those words may not mean much to her at age two, but having the familiarity will hopefully help her link the words to facts as she learns and grows. I think we’ll end up getting the United States interactive map soon to improve their understanding of local geography.

Friends explore Leapfrog products

The tag books were interesting, but mostly from the point of view of the kids wanting to understand how they work. They enjoyed playing with the map, and the LeapPad really stole the show. This little computer can hold games and videos, including tilt-to-play games. The built-in camera takes still and video pictures, much to the delight of my children, who are on a mission to record as much of our life as possible!

The video camera is one of Emma's favorite features on the new Leapfrog LeapPad
My favorite thing about the LeapPad is that, while you do have to sync it with your computer regularly (otherwise certain parts of some games stop working; for example, your pet runs out of treats), the computer itself is offline.

The LeapPad has a cartridge slot, but most of the games seem to be available to download straight onto the LeapPad. The transfer speed for moving games from a regular computer to the LeapPad is extremely slow (on our computer, at least), so I recommend updating games when there are not children waiting around!

The Tag pen uses 2 AAA batteries, and the LeapPad uses 4 AA batteries. I recommend using rechargeables, because my kids at least go through them pretty quickly. There is also a trick to opening the battery casing that I didn’t see described in any LeapFrog material: push down with the LeapPad stylus in the slot to release a button, and then slide the covers off either side. The cover on one side is slightly larger than the other side, so you have to put the right cover on the right side, which I find mildly inconvenient.

All of the products from this party are recommended for 4-8-year-olds (well, the LeapPad goes up to age 9). The age range seems reasonable to me, even if Lily disagrees. Then again, she thinks she is at least four years old…

Lily practices writing letters on the LeapPad

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

13 thoughts on “Learn, Create, and Share: Leapfrog Party!”

  1. We just got the LeapPad Explorer for out 4 year old son and so far it has been great! It is the best of several recent LeapFrog toys in one–it has games like the Leapster Explorer, a camera like the camera that is sold separately for the Leapster Explorer, but the camera is built into the LeapPad, it has downloadable interactive books like the tag system.

    Pros/Great features of the LeapPad Explorer:
    -It has a slot for game cartridges like the Leapster Explorer (in fact you can use the games from the Leapster Explorer on the LeapPad)
    -It has downloadable “apps” (games, interactive books, and videos) for $5-$10 that you download on your computer and load on the LeapPad via USB cable.
    -It also has several apps included with the LeapPad like a story studio where you can write your own stories, photo/video app where you can take and edit photos and videos, art studio where you can make drawings, and one additional app that you can choose when you first hook it up to the computer.
    -It has a built-in camera and microphone so you can take photos, video and record audio.
    -It has a large, bright touch screen that works with your fingers or one of the 2 included styluses, the stylus is held in the side of the LeapPad magnetically and can be tethered to the LeapPad and it comes with an extra stylus for when the first one inevitably gets lost. Others have said they don’t like the stylus, but I think it is an important learning aspect of the LeapPad in that it helps my 4 year old practice holding a pencil correctly and there is also a game included with the LeapPad that lets him practice writing his letters correctly.
    -It is rugged. He has already dropped it 4-5 times from about 3-4 feet up on our tile floor and it is just fine.
    -It has a good speaker and headphone jack.
    -Very easy to use

    One of the coolest things about the LeapPad is all of the things that allows my son to be creative. Although the games are great and educational, eventually he will get tired of them and want to buy more games, but when he gets bored of the games he can always go to the camera and take photos and pictures and make them look funny, or go to the story studio and make a story or record his voice or our voices for his story. He can pretty much spend an unlimited amount of time (as much as we will let him) on the creative apps just making stuff up and still be entertained.

    Cons:
    -No rechargeable batteries. This is not a huge issue since 1. The batteries last quite a long time and 2. We just have 8 Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries that we bought on Amazon, 4 are in the LeapPad and the other 4 are recharging so there are always fresh batteries.
    -No Wifi. It would be nice not to have to connect the LeapPad to the computer to update it, load new games, and upload pictures, but really it is $100 so I am not expecting it to be like an iPad. Also I like that e can’t get access to the internet on it when he is playing it by himself so no wifi may be a pro or that reason.
    -The LeapPad has to be updated right when you get it to load al of the included apps. This takes quite a long time (over an hour). It would have been nice if it came preloaded. This may be fixed in the future.
    -Games, books and video are not inexpensive, but that is pretty much what Leapfrog products are like. The nice thing about the LeapPad though is that there are a lot of included apps that allow unlimited creativity. And it is like several Leapfrog products in one so I just have the LeapPad and it is like having a Leapster Explorer, addon camera, and Tag reading system in one.

    I will update with more info if any more pros or cons should arise. Overall, though it is a great purchase!

  2. The interactive map sounds fascinating. Savvy has started showing an interest in learning about other countires so this is something I am going to look into.

    I bought Blakie some leap frog tag “reading” books. He enjoys them. Savvy was not particularly interested in them. Although Savvy would be very interested in the LeapPad.

  3. Our Tag pen is starting to show its age and does not always read as well as it once did. I’ve considered purchasing a map.

    I think our LeapFrog fridge phonics plays that same Every Letter Makes a Sound song or at least something similar. We’ve never seen the DVD.

  4. We managed to get through the first 5 years without getting a LeapFrog even though Anna really-really wanted one. I think it’s great as far as electronic “educaiment” goes, but we are holding out for a real computer or maybe an iPad.

    1. The new LeapPad is more similar to an iPad than their previous products were, but as far as educational value I would prioritize their interactive maps over the LeapPad.

  5. Elisa | blissfulE

    Hurrah for interactive geography! Does the pen “read” where it is on the map and call out the place names?

    1. Yes! One one side it names places, and the other side has more facts, including pictures of children who say hi from various countries. Both sides have geography games built in.

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