I’m going to come clean here and admit that I have never been particularly fond of electronic toys for my children. Maddy and Owen do have those cool Fisher Price Kid Tough Cameras, we’ve dabbled in digital books, and we do frequent several (and I mean several) children’s websites for learning and games.
We (gulp!) don’t own a Wii, we don’t have a Play Station or XBox, and our kids don’t have hand-held video games. (I’m waiting for the lightening to strike. . . )
This New For Us Friday , we’re sharing our new-found love for our very, very new for us, LeapFrog toys.
- LeapFrog Tag and Tag Junior: Maddy and Owen received Tags, which are directed toward children ages 4-8 years, and Cora received a Tag Junior; the Tag Junior is geared toward younger children, ages 2-4 years.
For those, like me, who have been living in a cave, the Tag Reader is a wand that children use to touch the page of a specially printed Tag Book, and the words and pictures come to life. Seriously.
You can check out a demo of the Tag Reader System here, but essentially, kiddos can listen to the Tag book being read page by page or word by word, depending on what they want and depending on what icon they touch at the bottom of the page. They can even answer questions about the text, the pictures, or the story.
Maddy usually tries reading what she can by herself, and when she gets stuck, all she has to do is touch the wand to the challenging word, and the word is read for her. Then she can re-group, re-read, and move on. This totally supports that all-too important one-to-one correspondence that emerging readers need to understand when they’re learning to read. It also makes self-monitoring, or making sure they understand what they’re reading, easier for them. I love it.
Even more fun is that characters sing songs and parts of the setting and illustrations make sounds when readers touch them with the Tag wand. Owen’s really loved trying to figure out what he needs to do to find the surprises on each page of each book. He also has loved listening to the books during his rest time.
One thing that Cora loves about her Tag Junior is that when she turns it on or off, it welcomes her or says goodbye with a personal message (Hello, Cora! or It’s my friend, Cora!); hearing her own name when she begins or ends playing really gets her giggling.
I could go on even longer about how incredible the LeapFrog Learning Path is–each child’s time spent reading books, scores for answering questions and specifics about the questions, and Skill Stones (or specific skills touched on with each book) are detailed. And this information can be emailed to you so you don’t have to check the site if you don’t want to.
Overall, here’s the skinny on Tag Reader and Tag Junior:
- that it took me only minutes to learn how to download the audio for books onto the Tags. The site is easy to navigate, and the LeapFrog Connect is incredibly easy to understand (thank goodness!);
- the variety of books available–from books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! and The Cat in the Hat to favorite Disney, Star Wars, and familiar cartoon characters books, and learn-to-read books, there seemed to be something for everyone;
- the reading voices, the songs, sounds, and clarity and overall quality;
- that readers can listen to each page read or each word;
- the size–Maddy, Owen, and Cora fit a few of their books and their Tag wands in their backpacks for our trip to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, and they didn’t weigh a ton;
- the questions and games at the end of each book and the surprises on each page;
- that Maddy and Owen’s Tags had a personal message (all kiddos love to hear their names, right?!);
- hmmmmm. . . I was going to mention the price, but now–especially–these Tags are affordable. The site is offering some major deals on shipping, and you could buy a Tag book for as little as $5. In fact, I’m going to hit the LeapFrog site now so that I can grab some Black Friday deals before the clock strikes twelve.
And that’s it for a last-minute New For Us Friday after Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to getting back to our NFUF foods, activities, and events, but I also want to share some really worthwhile toys and games to explore before the holidays really get underway.
I’m always looking for new ideas, so if there’s something you think we should try. . . let me know!
fyi: Thanks so much to LeapFrog for sending us these incredible products. We were given the Tag Readers, Tag Junior, and several books to try, but my opinion was in no way influenced by the LeapFrog company. It was, however, influenced by three little ones who just so happen to really, really, really enjoy their Tag Readers and one Reading Specialist mom who is impressed at a few little electronic toys that are fun and supportive of learning. Woo-hoo!