Saturday, 29 January 2011

Leapster Explorer - Toyologist Review for Toys R Us

The Leapster Explorer Green Console and Penguins of Madagascar Software

The Leapster Explorer Green Console is an amazing learning experience that encourages children to discover something new every day. There are endless ways to play and learn - from games, e-books, videos and online play to customisable learning skills and more!

Leapster Explorer Penguins of Madagascar sees Skipper suspect that Private is getting soft, so he has created four training missions, each with a different plush toy to rescue. Rise to the challenge and sharpen your mathematical skills while Private hones his elite commando skills.

I would never have thought about buying the Leapster Explorer for my not-quite-three year old but  as we had it available to do a Toyologist review and she seemed very interested in it, there was nothing to lose by letting her have a go. Although recommended for children aged 4-9 years, the way she has responded to it has been nothing short of astonishing.

The Leapster Explorer is a hand held electronic educational game with touch screen technology. An attached stylus tucks neatly away into its own little slot when not in use. It is supplied with a pet game that enables you to create your own pet and a Leaplet learning application download card. A range of games is available as downloadable aps and to purchase on cartridge.

We had the cartridge game 'The Penguins of Madagascar'.

Children never cease to amaze me with their intuitive grasp of technology. My daughter needed very little help to get started. She was quickly navigating her way around and getting to grips with the controls.

I was impressed by how robust the Leapster Explorer was (it would need to be in the hands of an enthusiastic pre-schooler!). I was also impressed by the lovely big screen and clear graphics.

The games all have a strong educational content but were such fun that I doubt the child would even realise they were learning.

The 'Penguins of Madagascar' game involved a lot the gaming essentials of jumping and bashing and collecting interspersed with mini mathematical challenges. There was plenty of guidance and help available to prevent the child becoming frustrated. One of the mini challenges involves dragging different shapes across the screen with the stylus and dropping them onto the corresponding shapes forming part of a simple picture. I was amazed to hear my little girl, who is is still in the fairly early stages of language acquisition, repeating after the voice of the game "isosceles triangle'!! I was even more amazed to see her playing a more advanced level of this mini game where the shapes needed to be rotated to the correct orientation before being dropped, with some precision, in their proper place. As well as learning some basic geometry, she is developing a strong spatial awareness and hand eye co-ordination... and she only thinks she is playing!

We have barely scratched the surface of what the Leapster can do. There is the online Leapworld that children can connect to (and being a 'walled garden' can do so in complete safety). If parents don't want to be left out, they can connect online to the Leapfrog Learning Path to monitor and guide their children's learning. 

This really is a game that can grow with and support the child's developing needs.

My daughter totally loves this game and spends a good deal of time playing with it (so much so that I have already invested in some rechargeable batteries). It is brilliant for car journeys, especially when it is dark because the screen has its own illumination. It is discreet and portable so you could take it anywhere, which is exactly what I do now (restaurants, hotel rooms, visiting grandma...)

My latest use for this Godsend of a game is an incentive to encourage my 'Reluctant Potty Trainee' to sit on her potty. She will happily sit and play. Now if only the Leapster console would instruct her to do her business, we might be nappy free in no time!

I really cannot praise this game enough.

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