are changing. No longer do we want to be confined to any one
place. We want to take our electronics with usour phones,
computers, schedulers, etc. If trends in the electronic toy
industry are any indication, same goes for children.
Game consoles confine kids to their television rooms. But
with handhelds like the GameBoy line, kids can bring their
video games to any (well-lit) room in the house and on the
road. Computer learning games, like console video games,
keep kids at their desks, and while many of their parents
use laptops, very few children have their own portable
computers. Companies like LeapFrog, however, have made it
easy for kids to play electronic learning games on the go.
Products like the LeapPad and Quantum Pad Learning
and now Leapster and iQuest, are not only portable and trendy,
they're brimming with educational opportunities.
Last year's Leapster has already been updated. The
Leapster L-Max is a handheld portable unit that mimics
Nintendo's GameBoy, but with important differences that make it
not only more kid-friendly, but exceptionally more educational as
well. The comparatively large screen is also a touch screen, and
kids interact with the games by using a directional pad and an
attached stylus. Game cartridges, available separately, offer
children "edutaining" games that support learning. What's the
main difference between the Leapster and the Leapster L-Max?
Besides a slightly less bulky unit, the L-Max can be played as
a portable or can be plugged into the TV and played on both the
little and "big" screens. The unit is backwards compatible -- the
original Leapster game cartridges can be played on the new unit.
Most of the original games play on both the portable and TV
screens, while some only play on the handheld. Read
our full review of the
[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Leapster L-Max]
Multimedia Learning System
year's learning system from LeapFrog was probably the most exciting
product released that season. The Leapster is a handheld portable
unit that mimics the GameBoy Advance, but with important
differences that make it not only more kid-friendly, but largely
more educational. The package includes a sampler game for the
Leapster, Learning with Leap, but parents will want to
purchase more games to keep children's interest levels high. Currently,
games for the Leapster include Leapster Software: SpongeBob SquarePants Saves the Day, Leapster Software: Dora the Explorer- Animal Rescue, Leapster Software: Kindergarten,
and Leapster Software: 1st Grade,
and we can be fairly certain that this list will grow over the
next months, judging by the popularity of toys by LeapFrog. This
unit boasts not only a comparatively large screen, it comes with
an attached stylus pen in addition to a multi-directional control
pad. See our full review
of this exceptional product.
[For more information, user reviews, or to buy Leapster
LeapPad & Quantum Pad Learning Systems
Both the LeapPad
and Quantum Pad electronic toys are electronic learning pads that
bring special books designed for the systems to interactive life. Children use
the attached stylus (a "magic pen") to activate hotspots
on the pages of these books. Words and sentences are read aloud
with a touch of the pen, maps come to life as children point their
pen on different countries, states, and cities; and "paper
keyboards" allow kids to compose their own tunes.
Each of these learning pads come packaged with
a "sampler" book that engross children for a time, but
eventually they'll want more books. And more books is likely what
they'll get--these learning pads are well-established and popular,
and libraries of books, spanning across the curriculum, are
available for purchase. Some of the books feature licensed
favorites (Winnie the Pooh, Dora the Explorer, and Harry Potter
are just some of the licenses), while others stand well on their
own with either the Leap characters for younger kids, or no
characters at all--just fun presentations of school
Both systems have their own strengths, simply because they
target different age groups and the educational possibilities are
endless for each group. However, it is interesting to note that
the books for both the LeapPad and the Quantum Pad work in either
unit. The only significant differences between the two systems is
their look and lingo. The Quantum Pad is a sleeker-looking unit that
appears less like a toy than the LeapPad, and thus it goes over well
with older kids. But most parents know that even preschoolers are
attracted to things that don't "look" their age. The
point here is that purchasing a Quantum Pad for your kids will
likely take care of your 3 year old as well as your more
technologically savvy 9 year old, as long as you purchase a book
or two that is appropriate for your 3 year old's educational level
(which you would likely want to do regardless).
While the sampler book included with the LeapPad is a bit of a
tease, the one in the Quantum Pad package has a longer life
expectancy. It's terrific! The geography games are entirely
addictive (for adults too)--you have to race the clock to find as
many requested states, capitals, or, in the case of the map of
Europe, countries. There's a solar system spread, work with
fractions and multiplication, a spelling bee, and more.
These systems are worth the purchase. They are very expandable
-- which is both a pro and a con. The good news is that the system
is not going to blow out of steam too quickly; and the bad news is
that it can get quite costly. There's the cost of the units
themselves (about $40-50 US each), additional books (about $15
apiece), and the batteries.
For more information, user reviews,
or to buy, follow these links:
Leap Frog Quantum Pad Learning System
LeapPad Plus Writing
(the second version of the Leap Pad that incorporates
writing letters, numbers, shapes, and words into the
LeapPad Plus Writing and Microphone
(the most current version of the Leap Pad that incorporates
writing letters, numbers, shapes, and words into the
learning system, as well as a microphone).
|Note that there are a
number of LeapPad versions available. In 2003, LeapPad Plus Writing
was released, and the latest version released this year is LeapPad Plus Writing and Microphone.
These two latest versions are backwards compatible. In
other words, they will accept any LeapPad book,
whether or not the books are microphone-enabled.
Common sense suggests purchasing the latest version
with the writing and microphone features.
These are some of our favorite additional books for the
systems (remember any of these books work in both the Quantum Pad
and the LeapPad Learning Systems):
LeapStart Pre-Reading Book: The Birthday...Surprise: This is one of the
better books in the LeapPad Library--teaches phonics, pre-reading
skills through a story starring the Leap characters.
Leap 2 Music Book: Hit it, Maestro!
for a wonderful introduction to classical music, music terms, and
more. Best for ages 6-7 up.
LeapStart Pre-Reading Book: Disney...Princess Stories: Another
pre-reading book for preschoolers who love Disney Princesses.
Quantum Pad Book: Geography -- The Seven...Continents: Besides reading,
the subject of Geography seems to be especially ideal for the
LeapPad and Quantum Pad platforms.
Quantum Pad Book: 3rd Grade Science
teaches children about matter, sound, the solar system, and more
science topics at a third grade level. Games, facts, and
our review of this Quantum Pad Book.
Other good books are the Quantum Pad Smart Guides
grade levels (Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5) and books starring the
Magic School Bus. Newly available are
those focused on specific subjects and grades, such as
Quantum Pad Book: 3rd Grade Science.