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Leapfrog Gives Leaping an Infrastructure

democenter_par_87858_image_directTag ReaderHave you tried shopping for educational toys  for young kids lately?

It’s a jungle out there.  If you’re looking to help them practice  reading, math, critical thinking, color matching  … whatever, there are hundreds to choose from ranging from the mundane to the sublime. And no way to know for sure much about what’s inside the box.

Leapfrog, known for mostly top-notch products for kids just made it much easier to buy the right product and better still, to watch how your child is interacting with the toy.

The company’s new website Learning Path offers parents a portal into their child’s learning.  Learning Path charts a course for parents to make good product choices by grouping choice by age and skills. Parents receive tips and ideas from educators. But most important the child’s product can be linked to the website and parents get feedback about how the child interacts with the product. 

Here’s a quick look at some of the types of things you can expect to see in the new line:

EARLIEST LEARNERS

Focus is on products like Fridge Phonics and Pre School Medley. (Still, not quite sure I love the sound of little kids recorded voices singing and saying words without much difference between singing and saying,  but the Leapfrog folks assure me that the kids prefer it.

With slightly more coordination kids are ready for products like Zippity. Zippity is sort of a colorful cross between Dance Dance Revolution and  Nintendo Wii  but made for a three to five year old who play games where their using their bodies to interact with the device, without needed the dexterity to succeed with a full blown Wii.

SCOUT AND FRIENDS

Scout, a cuddly plush dog becomes the mascot to preschoolers with a collection of products that look just like mom and dad’s high tech stuff. There’s a PDA that teaches words and letters and has some fun built in emails and calendar functinos that revolve around Scout’s life.  A Scribble and Write is like a high tech version of the tracing books we used to use to learn to write our letters.  Trace the letters by following the screen’s LED dots.

TAG READING FOR JUNIORS

mini-tagjrOne of the newest products is the Tag Reader Junior  ($35 when it’s released later this year).  TagReading Kit  is a pen shaped device that can interact with books to read, teach words and more ($50).  Once you have the pen you keep replenishing your library of Tag books at about $14 each.  Tag Jr. is a stubbier, snowman-like stamperr instead of a pen.  As it touches the book, a sturdy cardboard affair, it also responds. 

Things I like:

The books and materials were high quality, compelling stories.  Many Tag books are liscened from companies like Disney and Scholastic so the child is engaged in the literature.

The tag pens bring a fun element to reading books, but it’s a book you’re reading, not a game screen.

The parents web site and the kids’ website are basically two views of the same content.  Parents can see where there kids like to play (learning words? shapes? math? and kids can get more content and games from the web.

After years of mostly quality one off toys, the Leapfrog strategy took a giant leap forward.