Friday, August 12, 2011

Leapfrog Explorer: Review and Giveaway!

As an Early Childhood Educator, my personal philosophy about child development includes that children learn best through play. I am a huge advocate of free play, and imaginative play. My girls love dress up clothes, their Little Tikes Kitchen and play food, and their dolls!

However, I also love teaching them concepts like math and language through games and other methods. One company that I have learned to love over the last three years as a parent is Leap Frog. We have the Click Start My First Computer System, Tag and Tag Jr Readers, and My Pal Violet. Their products have had a prominent place in my home and we have not been disappointed with any of the Leap Frog  products we have owned.





About Leap Frog:

LeapFrog is a leading designer, developer and marketer of innovative, technology-based educational products that make learning fun and engaging. With over 35 million educational platforms and almost 90 million interactive books and games in homes worldwide, the LeapFrog learning brand is trusted by parents, valued by teachers and loved by children around the world.

About Leapster Explorer:

From the maker of Leapster®, the #1 best-selling educational gaming handheld, comes an entirely new experience in mobile learning. Leapster Explorer™, is sturdy enough for 4- to 9-year-old children, yet still delivers the latest in high-tech design. Our biggest, brightest full-colour screen ever, with finger-touch interactivity; Learning app downloads like e-Books, videos and games; and a camera accessory, so kids can make their own photos and videos.

Offering far more than a traditional handheld gaming platform, Leapster Explorer is also a portable hub for dozens of downloadable Leaplet™ Learning Apps, including e-Books, videos, game apps, and flash cards. And the Camera accessory turns Leapster Explorer into a personal photo- and video-recorder. Not only can kids learn with their favorite characters with Leapster Explorer in hand, they can expand the fun in LeapWorld™, our safe, online learning playground. Best of all, parents can follow children’s personal progress via the online LeapFrog Learning Path, gathering valuable information about where a child is excelling or particularly challenged, as well as sharing earning accomplishments along the way.

Leapster Explorer, on shelves July 15th, will launch with 12 games and 18 Leaplet Learning Apps – including e-Books and videos – with more than 40 total learning play experiences available by year-end. Each experience offers multiple levels of play, and – unique to LeapFrog products – games auto-adjust so a child can learn at just the right pace. And Leapster Explorer remembers a child’s progress from game to game, to keep the content challenging and engaging. All these play and customization options equal a one-of-a-kind learning and play experience for a child, that never loses that first-day, out-of-the-box sense of excitement and discovery.

 The Leapster Explorer Camera, an accessory that snaps easily into the Leapster Explorer peripheral slot, will be on shelves. Kids can take photos and videos for customizing, deisplaying and sharing in galleries And fun activities like distorting and adding effects to images, then exporting them into games or making music videos, or just a few options. 

My Review:

Last Christmas my husband and I were trying to decide whether to buy my daughter (she was just turned three) either the Leapster 2 or Tag Reader. We did not think she was quick ready for the Leapster 2, so purchased the Tag Reader! She loves it. And I am so glad we waited with the Leapster purchase, now that we have the Explorer. We had borrowed a friend's Leapster 2 to try with "M" in the Spring, and she did seem to have a bit of trouble controlling the Stylus Pen, and figuring out some of the games.






However, when I showed her the Explorer, she immediately wanted to sit down with it. First we had to personalize it with her name and learning level (Pre-K). The Leapster Explorer can actually store information for up to three different children. Once we connected the Explorer to Leapworld, picked a game to download, and personalized it, "M" was set! I have posted photos, but forgive the quality, I was getting a lot of glare for some reason.

With the Leapster Explorer you receive one Leaplet download card, for use to "purchase" a Leaplet game for the Explorer. You can also purchase the Leaplet Download cards at various retailers such as Walmart and Toys R Us.

So I had "M" check out the list of games she could choose from to download, and she chose "Sugar Bugs" Here is how the Leap Frog website describes the game:




"Learn about good dental health and hygiene as you join the battle against the sugar bugs!
  • Use a toothbrush, floss and other dental tools to fight the sugar bugs.
  • Play the Sugar Bug song as you brush your teeth for the recommended 2 minutes.
  • Download to play! Purchase a Leaplet card at your local retailer or online, then use it to download this game to your handheld."

After sitting with her for about 1/2 and hour she said "I can do it", so I let her go with it! She did great! She absolutely loves it and is doing great at it. In only a couple weeks she is already at Level 5! I am impressed. She has needed to ask for help a few times, due to some struggles with her fine motor skills, but that is understandable with her only being 3.5 years old. I have actually seen an improvement in these skills already in just two weeks! She is not only getting the hang of using the stylus but also is starting to realize that she can just touch the screen too (I love that!).

 The screen size is impressive at 3.2" and the colors are vivid! 512 MB memory size and 400 Mhz processor (compared to 128MB memory and 96Mhz Processor in the Leapster 2). The screen resolution is 320x240 (compared to 160x160 in the Leapster). You can also get a recharger for the Explorer.

Also with the Leapster Explorer, there is a pre-loaded game called Pet Pad, This game is really neat, as your child can design their own pet, and its home/surroundings. You play games with the pet, feed and bathe it and keep it entertained. As you complete the activities on Pet Pad you earn tokens to trade in on Leap World for more shampoo, treats and food for your pet! 



One game within Pet Pad is one that has your child practice printing the letters of the alphabet which is right up my daughter's alley. She is always trying to print letters, so this has really helped her confidence in that area and I know it will continue to do so. For her birthday, we are thinking of getting the game, "Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleburg" as it takes your child one step further in learning to print! 


I love that there is a huge variety of games available for a product that is just newly released, and there seems to always be more coming out.

Leap World is another great feature of the Explorer. It is an online, secure website for your child to connect their Explorer to and play online games. They can even take their pet friend from Pet Pad with them to play! They again can build a character, a home and earn tokens! "M" has  played a few of the games on Leap World and loves them!

Additional games that are currently available for the Leapster Explorer include Dora, Disney Princess, Ni Hao Ki Lan, Toy Story, Disney Princess, Wolverine and more. The Explorer is designed for children ages 4-9 and I agree with that age recommendation. Also, this summer Leapfrog is releasing the Leapster LeapPad and Explorer games will be compatible on it (so excited, it's like an iPad for kids!)

I far prefer children do not use video games all the time, and "M"'s time on the Explorer is definitely limited, but this has been a invaluable tool in her learning and development. It will also be a welcome tool for long car trips that we often make! I see less fighting with her younger sister when having the Explorer in the truck with us! (okay, maybe not, but it sounds good!)

I highly recommend the Leapster Explorer and give it a huge thumbs up! Once again, Leap Frog has not disappointed this mom and family!

BUY IT: You can purchase the Leap Frog Explorer through retailers such as Walmart, Toys R Us, and Zellers. Check these retailers for current availability for both the system and games.



WIN IT: 
One (1) Reader
 will win 
a
 Leapster Explorer


MANDATORY ENTRY: Head over to Leapfrog and tell me what Explorer Game you like


EXTRA ENTRIES: (mandatory must be done first for extra entries to count)


1. Follow A Mom After God's Own Heart via GFC


2. Like A Mom After God's Own Heart on Facebook


3. Follow me on Twitter


4. Tweet about this giveaway and RT to @momrempel (can tweet daily)


5. Subscribe to A Mom After God's Own Heart via email


6. Grab my button and place it on your blog sidebar


7. Blog about this giveaway (leave me the link) (2 enteries) 
GIVEAWAY OPEN TO CANADIANS ONLY
GIVEAWAY ENDS AUGUST 29, 2011

GOOD LUCK TO ALL!


***Thank you to Leap Frog and Harbinger Ideas for providing me with a complimentary Leapster Explorer System for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***










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