The other day, my daughter came home from a playdate, extremely excited: her friend had said she could borrow her LeapReader for the weekend.
A LeapReader, in case you didn’t know, is a pen-like item from LeapFrog. You attach it to your computer, and download audio to accompany books and other learning resources. The reader literally speaks as you trace it along a page, and it was a hit in our household when my daughter (5) borrowed her friend’s one. Even her big brother (7) was desperate to have a go, so when LeapFrog asked us if my daughter would like to try out a LeapReader of her very own, we jumped at the chance.
When my daughter’s LeapReader arrived (a pinky purple version, also available in green), set-up was straightforward. We already have a parent account from our LeapPad and LeapTV, so it was a simple question of plugging in the reader to our PC to charge it up, downloading the audio to go with the books and resources we’d been sent, and then synching it. It does take a little while to charge up – a couple of hours for it to be completely charged – but then, it was good to go.
Every LeapReader comes with a sample activity book, demonstrating the range of what it can do. The sample book’s only good for a quick play to get started, so you’d need to also choose from the 60 books, audio books and learning resources. These begin at ‘Early Reading’, with an emphasis on phonics, and progress up to ‘reading on your own’. LeapFrog recently brought out a couple of additions to the LeapReader range: ‘Learning Through Reading’ sets, and writing sets, with special paper (the sort that you use to make a carbon copy), so that children can practice writing as well as reading. The audio books are simply stories told through the reader, without an accompanying book. There are songs to download, too.
The LeapReader books are colourful and lots of them use familiar characters to draw children in to reading: Princess Sofia, Nemo, Toy Story, etc. When you’re following a story, you can make the LeapReader read out a whole page in one go, or you can get it to read individual words. If you touch it on the pictures, it makes fun little sounds, or speaks the character’s words. Our daughter’s not quite able to read to herself, so it’ll be handy on car journeys: the LeapReader will be able to read to her, so we can just concentrate on driving.
As well as a Finding Nemo book, LeapFrog sent us a Disney Pixar Imagination Activation set, which has kept my daughter occupied for hours. She’s practised writing letters, shapes and numbers, as well as drawing characters like the Incredibles and the stars of Toy Story. There are some nice quizzes in the set too.
I’d seen the Leapreader books in action before, but I was most impressed with our Learning Through Reading sets: Interactive Human Body, and Solar System Adventure Pack. These are both fold-up boards, with games, quizzes and information. They come with stickers, which are always a hit and which also work with the LeapReader (the noises it makes for the digestive system sticker are hilarious). Interactive Human Body has a growth chart, where you can add stickers to track your child as they get taller.
My daughter was excited about both these sets, as she’s been learning about the planets at school. She was fascinated by the facts about the body, proudly telling me that ‘giraffes are the animals with the longest tracheas, Mummy’. These sets were advertised as being for 4-8 year olds, and I’d say that was accurate: my son has enjoyed using them, too.
You can see the LeapReader in action here:
The RRP for the LeapReader is £39.99. LeapFrog sent us the reader and a set of resources for the purpose of this post. All views are my own.
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