With the snow largely cutting us off from the outside world for a few days I’ve been super grateful to have another weapon in my arsenal of at-home entertainment for my toddler.
There’s only so much baking me, and my waistline, can stomach. Watching television all day is just anti-social. Building with blocks is great but only buys you an hour. Playing with dolls is fun, but sometimes you just need to do something different.
So I was really pleased that the snow coincided with us being sent a LeapFrog LeapPad3 to try out, as well as a Dora the Explorer Dora’s Worldwide Rescue adventure game.
The LeapPad has proven a hit in this house, with my little ones and me, not least because it’s a toy that’s both exciting and educational.
I love the fact that this is a totally kid-friendly version of something adults use every day.
We all know how much children love to imitate their parents. The trouble is spending the best part of £500 on a tablet that is not in the slightest bit kiddie-proof just isn’t a wise move.
The LeapPad is designed to be handled, shall we say robustly, by not-so delicate little hands, with its bright green bumper and shatter-proof screen.
While my toddler has been pretty respectful of her new toy, she has knocked it onto the floor a few times. It’s also had to put up with a lot of sticky fingers poking at its screen, but it’s still lived to tell the tale.
It’s reassuring to know this piece of tech isn’t made of glass, so you can relax when your child is playing with it.
Setting up the learning tablet was easy, once you get it charged up. You’re asked to enter your wifi details and there was a few minutes’ wait while the tablet connected to the internet.
I was then asked to enter my daughter’s first name and date of birth and we were away!
As a grown-up I found the home screen easy to navigate. It’s pretty similar to my own tablet in that the different apps and functions of the LeapPad are laid out in squares that you tap on with either the stylus included with the tablet or your finger.
You can set up multiple users in case you have more than one child playing with it.
As you take a look at the different apps and functions, the tablet talks you through each stage, telling your child what their options are and what to do next. The language is clear and easy to follow.
You can download or buy other games to play on the tablet. The cost varies, though the digital downloads seem to start at about £7.50.
The buttons are easy and straightforward for a small child to get to grips with.
There is a green home button on the front to take you back to the home screen at any time.
A round button has four directional keys, and once I pointed it out my toddler could switch the tablet on and off by herself with the silver button on the side.
I was extremely happy to find it had a volume button that lets you turn it all the way down. Alternatively you can plug in some headphones.
What did my toddler think?
My toddler was extremely excited at the prospect of playing with this toy.
Once we were all set up and on the home screen, we decided to have a go at the Pet Pad Party.
My little one was able to design her own pet, choosing from options including the more traditional cat and wackier ones like a dragon.
You then choose a name and get playing with your pet. If you have a friend with a LeapPad you can connect your tablets so that the pets can play together, this is a fab feature.
My toddler found it easy to follow the helpful tips that the tablet gave her and instructions on what to do next.
When it came to trying out the Dora game she quickly got the hang of directing the characters in the direction they needed to go in.
The games and apps
The Dora game was a perfect choice for my toddler as she is a big fan of the show. The game follows Dora around the world with different challenges to do in every country.
As you try to complete the challenges there are smaller games you need to complete. These test your knowledge of numbers, plus my toddler found them really enjoyable. She loved completing a game and moving onto the next stage.
The tablet has cameras on the front and back, and with the photo app you can play around with your pictures with different effects. It’s great fun! The quality of images is not great, but you’re not buying this product for a great camera.
I think it’s great how the games for the LeapPad combine learning with fun for kids. Plus the games automatically adapt to your child’s age, so that they should be challenged but not overwhelmed by them.
I loved playing the games almost as much as my toddler, as you get praised constantly when you complete a task!
The tablet is controlled by you the parent, thanks to a four-digit code you pick during the set-up process.
Your child can connect to the internet is the LeapSearch app. There are more than 1,000 pieces of content such as videos and images and games that have been picked by the people at LeapFrog because they are appropriate for kids.
Your child cannot access anything inappropriate, you don’t have to worry about setting filters or them stumbling upon anything dodgy.
This gives your child their first taste of surfing the internet but keeps peace of mind for you.
However if you don’t want your child to have access to the internet on the tablet, you can switch off access in the parental controls section of the LeapPad.
Screen size: 5ins
Play time before recharge: 7 hours (rechargeable battery included)
Storage capacity: 4GB
Camera: 2MP front and rear facing camera and 480 pixel video recording
Suitable for: Ages 3-9
Comedian Michael McIntyre said in a sketch that if there are parents out there raising kids without iPads then he doesn’t understand how they’re doing it.
I’m rather attached to my tablet so won’t be handing it over to my kids to use and abuse it any time soon. However I am more than happy for them to have the LeapPad.
There is such a huge emphasis on learning, but your kids won’t realise that. All they will see is a cool gadget and fun games featuring some of their favourite characters, plus lots of new ones.
It’s fun, engaging and really well designed. Plus the price is right. A fabulous introduction to technology for your little one.
Visit LeapFrog for more information.