You know what’s really great? When you love a brand from the outside, but then you get a peak inside and you love it even more. That’s how I feel about LeapFrog. While I’ve spent the last seven years buying LeapFrog products and thinking the were wonderful, I got to be on a phone call with some of the team members who created their latest LeapPad cartridge title, Mr. Pencil — The Lost Colors of Doodleburg, and they were so insightful. Watching my boys play the game (or read the eBook, I guess I should say), I can tell that their approach really works.
Here’s what I mean. LeapFrog approaches things with the realization that kids learn more when they’re having fun — which is why one of the producers of this game tested out his story ideas on his kids at bedtime. When they laughed, he knew he was on to something. (Pretty cool dad, right?)
They also have learning experts working on their products to ensure that they’re developmentally appropriate and offer opportunity for growth. In the case of Mr. Pencil, a game focused on building handwriting skills, the expert explained that the game starts with simple letters like T and I. As the child builds confidence, they’ll start moving to more complicated capitals like C and K, then eventually to the really difficult letters like lower case b and m. All in the context of a fun and engaging story.
So what is Mr. Pencil — The Lost Colors of Doodleburg? Well, since reading is the #1 skill parents want for their children, and writing is #2, LeapFrog decided to develop an Ultra eBook that brings the two skills together, while encouraging imagination and creativity. As the storybook reads aloud to your child, he can read along with the words as they light up (and even get definitions for specially highlighted words), play games that keep the story on track, and take part in built-in reading and writing activities. (You can watch the trailer here.)
Here are a few of my favorite features:
• The step-by-step approach to letter writing shows kids where to begin and end strokes (a skill that most definitely needs honing in this house!).
• You can choose from 3 reading levels, but the handwriting level tracks separately. So even if you’re great at reading, but not so great at writing (or visa versa), both activities are matched for your individual skill level.
• As the handwriting level increases, the accuracy required does too. So when you’re a beginning writer, and you’re asked to draw a straight line, the room for error is appropriate — building confidence at first, then accuracy as you improve with practice.
• Throughout the story, kids are invited to play games that build vocabulary, comprehension, and fine motor skills.
My kids’ favorite features?
• Little: “The boat game where you get to chase the bad guy!”
• Big: “You don’t just have to sit there and read. You get to play games too.”
Yes, it was a hit all around this house. If you think it would be a hit around your house too, leave a comment before Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 11:59pm PDT and be entered for a chance to win in my Mr. Pencil — The Lost Colors of Doodleburg Ultra eBook giveaway. (PLEASE NOTE: This cartridge is only compatible with LeapFrog LeapPads. Winner must live in the U.S. or Canada.)
Disclosure: I was sent Mr. Pencil — The Lost Colors of Doodleburg for review purposes. I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own.
Photos courtesy of LeapFrog.