LeapPad, a learning tablet just for kids

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Aug 182012

As you may have read last month the LeapFrog LeapPad was a massive help during our long flights to and from Europe. In fact it was not only a big hit on the plane, it also got a great workout on rainy days inside and during car trips. The twins were always asking for (and sometimes fighting about) the ‘green computer’. Just in case you have been living under a rock and have never heard of the LeapPad: a LeapPad is a special learning tablet developed for children aged 4-9. It has been insanely popular since it was first released so of course my own hip little ones had to put it to the test.

Up until the holidays we had only used the LeapPad a handful of times as I thought the twins (3) were just a little bit too young for it. As you probably know it can be frustrating for young children to try something that they don’t understand, and in doing so it can be very frustrating for parents too so I wanted to make sure I had some age appropriate games on hand to make the LeapPad a big success.

Now that they are nearly four years old the twins are the perfect age to start exploring the LeapPad and I can already tell you they went crazy for it from the word go. First of all the LeapPad is easy to hold for small hands, it has a big (touch) colour screen with only a few control buttons on the side and comes with a handy stylus (small ‘pen’ to use on the touch screen). My kids have no iPad, iPhone, iPod or any other mobile phone experience yet they got the hang of it quickly.

When you start using the LeapPad you first need to make a profile for your child, which involves selecting your child’s name, age and a photo (the LeapPad has a built-in camera and video recorder). You can enter multiple profiles into the LeapPad so it is ideal for siblings to share as it will give everyone a chance to have their own unique, tailor made LeapPad experience (and parents can check each child’s progress through the LeapFrog Learning Path).

Just like with most adult tablets the LeapPad comes preloaded with a few applications and the possibility to download more than 100 fantastic apps from the LeapFrog App Centre. Games, eBooks, videos, music, creativity apps, flashcards and more, there is always more LeapPad fun to be had with the ever growing App Centre. I will follow up on the App Centre in another, soon the be released, post sharing some of our top picks and there may even a little something for you…

I soon realised that my worry about games or tasks being too difficult was unfounded as by creating a profile your child’s LeapPad activity will automatically be tailored to suit his/her age, without having to change settings or select levels. Simple challenges and games for my nearly 4-year old and trickier ones for older children, this keeps it interesting and fun for all ages and a brilliant investment.

Obviously sometimes the twins need a little help with the reading but by now they are very confident and familiar with it all and know exactly what to do. Speaking of reading, a lot of the games and other applications train their reading and writing skills. From recognising and tracing letters in a game environment to ‘reading’ an eBook featuring popular movie characters and listening to the words being read out loud. The LeapPad allows kids to learn without noticing in a fun and playful matter.

One of their favourite (yet the most simple) LeapPad applications is the Art Studio App (included) which lets little artists create colourful artworks on their screen. Using the stylus they can draw, paint, stamp and colour as much as they like, start all over again or save in and create a little gallery. So easy, great for their fine motor skills, learning about colours and shapes and of course it is mess free.

Another app they play regularly is Pet Pad (included), a very cute pet raising game in which kids can create their own pet and learn to feed, clean and look after it. The twins especially love the part where they need to blow on the LeapPad to dry their little cat/dog after its bath! It is a great way to learn all about chores, following instructions and even trace the letters of the alphabet. I think we can safely say that, although we have already had lots of fun with the LeapPad, there is still lots more to learn and explore so I will keep you updated as we try out new games and download new apps.

The RRP of the LeapPad is $229, I admit it’s a decent price tag but if you keep an eye on the catalogues of the major retailers you will find there are often huge savings to be had. Also keep in mind that it is an investment, the LeapPad can be used by siblings and will last you multiple years. The learning experience is automatically adjusted as your child develops new skills so it will stay interesting and educational, again and again.

LeapFrog toys are available at leading retailers all over Australia, click here to find out where to buy your favourite LeapFrog products.

To find out more about the LeapPad, to watch a LeapPad demo and to browse the range of games and accessories visit www.leapfrog.com.au.