Monday 21 May 2012

Leapster Explorer- Perfect for on the go!

I have to say that I am feeling very grateful to LeapFrog at the moment, they kindly sent us a Leapster Explorer console to test out and my twinnies are loving it.  I have had to remind JJ that it is for the girls and to keep his mitts off.  Whilst the Leapster Explorer is designed for children aged 4- 9 years JJ has his own toys that the girls are not allowed, so fairs fair!

We have a LeapPad already and the girls really enjoy that so I have to say I wondered if the Explorer console would hold any interest but actually Miss E in particular does not want to put it down.  I can honestly say that her DS has not been picked up once in the last three weeks since we received this.

What is a Leapster Explorer?
The console itself is a great size for small hands, not too heavy, it is easy to grip and use. The screen is full colour and superb quality, I pleased to see that the pen is attached to the console otherwise I fear it might have been lost fairly quickly.  I had a worry that the console might use up the battery life really quickly but I have been so pleased, we have now had it 3 weeks and have not had to change the batteries yet, despite loads of use and a couple of long car journeys.  It is far more battery economical than the LeapPad.

The console has a RRP of £59.99 but you can pick a new one up on Amazon for as little as £41.69 and I think that represents superb value. They are available in green or pink to suit your child's tastes and they require 4 x AA batteries, which are not supplied.

What about the games?
The LeapFrog educational games are so engaging that they make the kids want to learn and play.  Miss E is happy to sit and do some drawing on her console but Miss M really engages with the games, especially the Tangled one which we received, she loves this and what is super is that it is really helping her phonics, spelling and reading.  I have seen such an improvement in the last week or two when we read her school books and I am convinced the Leapster Explorer has helped with that.  I just need to help Miss E engage more with it in that way now as she hates traditional reading, so making it fun with her seems the way to go.

It is also fantastic that the games cartridges and downloads can be used across the range.  I was most happy when I connected the Explorer to my laptop for the first time to find that it automatically added itself to my LeapFrog account and I was able to put our previously downloaded games onto this console too - result!

The cartridge games retail for about £17.99 each and the download app card is £9.98 for 2 applet downloads, depending on your child's choice of app this could get you one or two games, ebooks or videos.

Why is it good for on the go?
I don't know about you buy my kids are not big fans of long car journeys.  Back at the beginning of April we travelled for 5 hours in the car and boy do I wish we had the Explorer Console then.  We have done a couple of hour long journeys since having the console and we have to take the egg timer so the girls know when to swap as they are so engaged in their play it is the only way we can stop arguments.. 

As the games are intuitive and you can set the learning level on the console it means that the girls are just able to turn on their console and play, no worrying about asking Mum or their older brother to help them.  This Independence has made on the go play and lean ring much easier and certainly more stress free for dh and I.

As previously mentioned it is really battery economical too and you do not have to try and worry about recharging after an hour or so.

I couldn't even get her to look up at me, she was too engrossed!

How do I know what they are learning?
There is parental peace of mind with the LeapFrog range as you can see your child's learning journey by connecting the console to your laptop or PC. The console is so easy to connect, it really is plug and play, you just download the connect software and you are ready to go.  Then from the same place you can download your free games when you first connect and buy more downloads at a later date if you so wish. The downloads are fun too and all have a learning element, we have the Sugar bugs which is a fun way to teach your child about the importance of dental hygiene and the jewel train which is great for developing problem solving skills.

You are able to see if your child is engaging with the system at the appropriate age level and then of course you can change the settings if you need to challenge them more and there are additional sheets that you can print off to work in conjunction with the games.

Would I recommend the LeapFrog Explorer?
100% yes.  I am so pleased with the way the twins have engaged with it and they are not even 5 years yet.  It feels good that they will still get another few years entertainment from it yet.

Plus Points -
  • Sturdy, easy for small hands to use
  • Intuitive and no hassle to set up
  • Online learning journey for the parents to monitor their child
  • Great variety of games and aps to buy
  • Super fun for your kids and educational too
  • Makes long journeys great fun and much more relaxing for the parents
  • Super customer service, I know this from past experience
  • Economical on battery use and you can buy an adapter for use at home
The downside -
  • My girls wanted to play on it a little too much!  So as parents we have to monitor and limit their screen time.
  • I was seriously having trouble thinking of any negatives, I suppose for some the initial outlay cost may be a bit much but to be honest when you can pick one up for about £40 I think it represents excellent value for money.
Disclaimer:  We were sent this console and 3 games for the purposes of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.