Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Leap Frog

Does anyone out there have experience with any of the Leap Frog handheld games for kids? I usually avoid toys with batteries, but we do have a Fridge Phonics set from Leap Frog that they boys love.

We are facing some LONG road trips this summer with our 3, 2 and 1 year old. And we will have one activity this summer that will require our 3 year old to sit by himself on bleachers for a bit. Something to entertain/distract him for 30 minutes would make everyone's life easier! I am comfortable with the idea that I am in control of the toys/technology I give my children, and don't plan on making a Leap Frog system part of our daily, low-tech routine. But after 13 hours in the car with my beloved family, I might be willing to compromise my wooden toy/imaginative play philosophy and pay a hefty premium for something like Leap Frog.

There are several options....Leapsters, LeapPads...Any advice or other suggestions for long car rides with little guys?


Hope T. said...

We got Leap's Phonics Pond years ago and my current four-year-old is loving it! He has learned so much about letters and sounds from it. I checked ebay and they are selling it there for a reasonable price.

Juris Mater said...

Tex, you need to decide whether you'd prefer to listen to fighting and screaming for 13 hours or the Leap Frog robot-voice-lady saying over and over and over again "Press the Green Go Circle to Begin; One Bear in the Bedroom; Are You Still There; Please Select From the Options; Low Battery; Press One; Press Two; Press Three; Colors; Are You Still There; Goodbye; Welcome to LeapFrog" with bouncy annoying background noise. I'd choose kids screaming.

MargaretJDMom said...

I have no experience with Leap Pad, but I will say that I see them all over the kids resale shops around town, FYI! Low tech options include books on tape/CD from the two year old loved them! Our favorites were Mr. Popper's Penguins, Misty of Chincoteague, and Beatrix Potter. You can also play movies on a laptop too! We haven't done that one yet, but we have a 20hour road trip this summer...I think its time!

Julene said...

We don't have a tv at home, so the portable dvd player is a big hit on the plane or long car rides for my 2 yr old. I highly recommend going that route! It's not annoying like the leap-frog lady can be. Good luck!

Kat said...

Let me know what you find, Tex, I'd be interested in what your boys enjoy! We have the Leap Pad for little kids that JM mentioned above, and I think that both your older boys would have fun with it. It can be a little bit hard to manipulate for little hands and can get frustrating, but the positives might outweigh the benefits. I know that lots of 4+ year-old kids get the next step up, the Leapster I think, and your eldest would probably do fine with it.

My only concern would be that the 2 year-old would be jealous of the 3 year-old's fun toy! We have a portable DVD player for C to use on our upcoming LONG trip this summer, but I'm wondering how Maria will do without something of her own to entertain her!

Good luck!

Karen B. said...

The Leaspter is a great treat for a long road trip or any time when there is a long wait. However, if you kids normally don't watch a lot of tv or play a lot of computer/video games, they probably will get board of them after a while. Limit their time to keep it a treat.

Having a schedule on a long car trip helped us a lot. It keeps the activities like car games, audio books, dvd, leaspter, music, etc, from getting boring and helps with behavior.

Personally, I do not like the Leap Pad for anything. I would rather use an audio book that they can follow along with the "beep" turn the page. Plus, the library has them for free.

texas mommy said...

Thanks for the thoughts so far! JM, I agree with you in almost every situation except for the car. I cannot stand yelling/crying/fighting while I'm driving, probably b/c I'm in no position to deal with it appropriately. It makes me so tense and anxious and I can't tune it out and I'm about a million more times likely to get in an accident. I think in the circumstances of all day in the car, I'd take the talking/beeping.

Kat, very, very good point about jealousy. Do you think our 2 year old would be able to do anything on it (I've never actually seen one in person) so he could alternate with the 3 year old?

B-Mama said...

We have a hand-me-down Leap Pad and Pre-school Leap Pad (in the shape of a bus). I think the Leap Pad is def. age-appropriate for your middle guy. The preschool one has a pen that our 2yo is just starting to enjoy and the 4yo likes it bc of a Lightning McQueen series we have. Both Pads will captivate our oldest for hours if we let him, but he has an extreme attention span for all things electronic. :)

I know my nephews have had their Leapsters since they turned 4 and have enjoyed them. My sister keeps them for special treats and car rides. I know the games can get expensive, but are good for encouraging math and reading skills.

If you decide to take the plunge, I second the recommendation to check out the local re-sale shops!

Carol Kennedy said...

We have used both Leapster and the V-Smile handheld games. Both have been useful on car rides since my middle one was 3. Our youngest, now 3, will sit with the leapster doing the drawing program for short periods or fiddling with the games on the V-smile.

They both have advantages....I got the V-smile originally because we have the version that plugs into TV AND because it didn't have a pen to go along---I was concerned about forcing hand dominance in the right hand before the child had the chance to naturally choose.

We have used these on long car/airplane rides as well as the portable DVD players. Just bring extra batteries and/or car chargers. :)

Sophie said...

I entertained our 1 yo on a long car trip recently with rice cakes, and a clean ricotta cheese container full of pom-poms. I cut a smallish X in the lid, so he could poke the pom-poms in the top. Kept him entertained for nearly an hour at a time.
My 3 yo loves books on cd (you can use something portable with headphones, they think it's so cool). We also use clipboards for drawing and playing the alphabet game. Next trip I plan to have a bag they can open for each leg of the journey. They won't know what is in each bag and it helps for them to gauge how much longer the trip is going to be.

My experience with the leap pads is that by the time they can figure out the lady's voice and the mechanisms, the skills it was trying to teach was too easy. My kids have never enjoyed them for longer than 10 minutes...but they will sit and watch an instructional guitar dvd for an hour...go figure.

Kate E. said...

I ditto the picture books on cd with the beeps. We got them from the library and my 3 year old LOVED them. The 2 year old might as well, you could get one cd/book pack and check out another copy of the book so they both could look. We liked Curious George, Madeline, Bill Peet books, and others.

We love our portable DVD player for long plane trips and those who know me know I am not a big TV girl. BUT I love love love the old Weston Woods videos that are through Scholastic now, you can get them at the library too, they are "movie" versions of picture books and are awesome.

We travel a lot, so what I do (and I am never this uptight about anything else in my life) is make a schedule of hours in the plane/car and what "activity" we are doing every 1/2 hr or so. Some might run longer but I try to stretch whatever we are doing for that 1/2hr.

A Sample list:
1: Book on CD
2: Wikki Sticks
3: Snack (something consuming enough to warrant a 1/2, not just cherrios, etc) & Music CD of choice
4: Amazing Paper (or similar product)
5: DVD
6: Snack
7: Sticker Book
8: Magnets (we bring a sided-cookie tray which is great for magnets, running cars on, coloring on, etc).

So that was a recent 4 hour trip...I've done this for a 10 hr trip with 20 things on the list :)

If we are napping (not anymore) we would take a break, run around, eat, and then get in the car for nap.

Good luck!

Julie said...

Our son got a Leap Pad for this past Christmas when he was 4 1/2. It went over well, but even at that age, it took a little while for him to get the hang of it, and he's a bright kid. He just hadn't had any toys like that up til then (unless you count the Fridge Phonics magnets -- which we & they love). I would not recommend a Leap Pad for kids under 4. Especially if you won't be sitting right beside the kid to help hold the toy: from my experience, unless it's lying flat on a table or floor, the book can shift (and frustrate the child) and/or it can be too heavy & awkward for them to handle.

We have done 6-10 hour car trips since our first was born, and both of our boys are troopers. Our favorite activities are the portable DVD player (a treat for trips only), "On the Road with Bob & Larry" Veggietales CD (they especially like that I'll sing along with them), books, and basic car games like "I spy."

Good luck with your travels!