Oct 262011
 

This week we are heading off for a very short 4-day holiday with my parents, just before they head back to the Netherlands. The kids are very excited about the prospect of going to the beach, Daddy can’t wait to eat a (lot of) donut(s) from his favourite bakery and I am just worried about what to take and what not to forget. One thing I do know: to keep the kids entertained during the trip we are bringing the LeapFrog Count & Draw.

The LeapFrog Count & Draw is a fantastic new learning toy for kids that is all about numbers and shapes. It teaches kids how to write/draw them, counting, adding, subtracting as well as some games to practise their new skills. The handheld toy features a generous sized screen for kids to draw on with the attached stylus pen. A series of little lights placed under the screen guides children in their writing and drawing.

Like most other LeapFrog toys this design can be used in different modes: The Numbers Mode helps children to learn how to write the numbers 1 to 10 by tracing the lights underneath. The Shapes & Lines Mode focusses on lines and shapes as well as position words (above, inside, under etc). Once kids have got the basics under control they can test their addition/subtractions and more than/less than skills with 2 games in the Games Mode.

The twins are at the perfect age for the LeapFrog Count & Draw. Having just turned three they are so keen to learn and their first school day can’t come quick enough for them (not for me!). They can both recognise and write most letters of both the alphabet and their names, and they have mastered recognising numbers so they are really enjoying learning how to write them too. The handheld has a limited number of buttons and the stylus pen is thick and sturdy for small fingers. The lights give them a lot of confidence, kids love getting it right and the lights are a very good teaching aid.

I know not everyone is a big fan of electronic ‘toys’ for young children and I understand that (althought I think there is a difference between ‘game’ toys and ‘learning’ toys). In fact my children spend a lot of time writing on paper, spelling with magnetic letters, reading books, counting with flash cards, do matching letter/words card games and they really enjoy that. However, when taking regular paper and crayons (or markers) in the car or on a holiday we often encounter some issues: How much paper and how many crayons do you bring? What do you put the paper on and how do you make sure the crayons don’t roll away? What do you do when all the papers are full or your child keeps dropping the crayons? What about marker stains or crayons crushed into car seats or clothes? When you multiply these ‘problems’ by the number of children that you have you need to bring a big supply and mum will sit turned-around the whole trip to pick up crayons.

With the LeapFrog Count & Draw kids can do what they really like, learn new things and practise their new skills again and again, and mum can do the praising not the grumping! Your child will not run out of ‘paper’, the Stylus pen is attached and can’t be dropped or make stains and your child will enjoy practising basic drawing and writing skills.

To find out more about the LeapFrog Count & Draw ($34,99, ages 3+) visit www.leapfrog.com.au. LeapFrog toys are available at leading retailers all over Australia, click here to find out where to buy your favourite LeapFrog products.