Mellow Mummy: My Own Leaptop Review : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday 13 May 2012

My Own Leaptop Review

As Lara approaches 3 years old, she is an an age where her ability to learn is quite phenomenal to observe - I'm letting her push her own boundaries with letters, numbers and real-world concepts every day; the arrival of the 'My Own Leaptop' from Leapfrog in her life has really helped to push her forwards. We were sent the Leaptop to review as part of an exploration of the Leapfrog 'Learning Path' which allows you to track your child's learning and development progress online or through a downloadable application.

The Leapfrog My Own Leaptop is a learning toy designed for children from 2 years upwards. It comes in either white and green (featuring Scout the puppy) or purple and pink (featuring Violet the puppy). The Leaptop is designed to encourage pretend play, something that Lara is just getting really into. She likes to switch on her 'laptop' when she gets home from nursery and pretends to 'work' like Daddy (quite what she thinks Mummy work's at that is different to Daddy, I'm not quite sure... given we do more or less the same job!).

When you plug the Leaptop into your own computer, you can personalise it for your child by letting it know your child's name and by downloading songs and emails onto it. When Lara switches on her Leaptop, it greets her and when she presses the letter L, it reminds her that this is the first letter of her own name... for some reason this last bit REALLY freaks her out and she gets quite upset about it... perhaps Lara is already worrying about online security! There are about 20 popular children's tunes to download onto the machine and a good range of basic email templates. The Leaptop even has a 'blog' button which allows your child to keep up-to-date with Violet or Scout's activities - ah, now perhaps this is where Lara will get her ideas for Mummy's pretend play!

Lara absolutely loves listening and dancing to the plinkerty plonkerty music on her Leaptop - her particular favourite is a counting song although Incy Wincey spider gets a good response too! In music mode, the letter keys make different animal and sound noises so as well as being able to 'play' basic music notes, your child can also create different sound combinations.

By far the most impressive part of the My Own Leaptop is the phonics mode - when you press a key on the keyboard, it quotes "W says 'wuh'... Whale" or the equivalent. It encourages learning of letter names and noise and association with a word. There is also a quiz mode which is Lara's favourite and this tests the knowledge they have taken in from the phonics mode by asking a question about the letter pressed e.g. "Who has a blow-hole?" and the answer is later revealed as the Whale. In the few weeks that she has owned the Leaptop, Lara's letters have come on really well (although this has been accompanied by some structured learning at nursery too). I had never expected my not-yet-three-year-old to exclaim to her grandparents "A vulture has a long neck!".

The my Own Leaptop by Leapfrog is not an expensive toy, in fact, I think it is great value. I have found the battery life to be good (we are still running using the batteries it came with) and I was really astonished to find that it had cleaning instructions (we had a muddy shoe incident!). It is compact and the noise isn't annoying (yet). My only tiny complaint (and it is tiny) is that there are one or two small chunks of Violet the puppy's dialogue that haven't been recorded in a UK accent and this always take me by surprise when we hear it - I don't suppose Lara even notices though!

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