kids

ROAD TEST: 'I gave my three year old a tablet to help prep her for school. Here's my verdict.'

LeapFrog
Thanks to our brand partner, LeapFrog

In the interest of full disclosure, my youngest daughter enjoys a lot of screen time.

As a working mum of four kids, life is set to a "busy" default and I don’t have as much time for play with my youngest as I did with the others.

So, when I heard that I would be reviewing educational brand LeapFrog's LeapPad Ultimate Ready For School Tablet, I nearly leapt for joy. I have been looking for something fun and educational to help entertain my youngest daughter and prepare her for school.

Now, her three sisters all have devices for school, so she has grown up around screens - that is just the reality of our lives. But there is a big difference between the LeapPad Ultimate tablet and the apps she sneakily downloads on my phone (yep, three-year-olds are tech-savvy these days).

Until now she’s been "borrowing" the family iPad to "check the weather" (code for app scrolling). The LeapPad Ultimate tablet, however, offers a positive screen-time experience that packs learning, fun and innovative technology all into one.

What is The LeapPad Ultimate Ready For School Tablet?

 It's a tablet made just for kids. Image: Supplied.

The LeapPad Ultimate is a tablet for kids aged three to nine, designed, reviewed and approved by educational experts who know what kids need for school readiness. It's made especially to be kid-safe, kid-smart and kid-tough, too.

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Watching my daughter, it is clear that she is excited and encouraged to learn further through the apps and tools on the tablet. Kids learn best when they are having fun, which is why "learning through play" is the best way to learn.

There are features that my daughter appreciates, and there are features that I appreciate. First up, I am impressed by how robust it is. My daughter is not particularly gentle. You know that saying "Though she be but little, she is fierce"? Well, that’s my daughter. LeapFrog’s LeapPad Ultimate is as robust as her will. Which is to say it’s tough. Shatter-safe screen for the win.

The LeapPad Ultimate is packed with educational entertainment. It includes more than 20 school-readiness apps (containing $150 worth of pre-selected apps) , plus access to more than 1000 learning games (sold separately), videos and e-books. The kid-safe web browser is perhaps the most reassuring feature for me, as you can only access content created and designed by LeapFrog learning experts.

I don't mind a bit of educational screen time. Image: Supplied.

In the week that my daughter has had LeapFrog’s LeapPad Ultimate, she has been learning to tell the time (she now knows that 5pm when I am cooking dinner is her screen time); improved her drawing skills; and the cooking app has miraculously even given her a love of grilled cheese sandwiches. She is a very fussy eater, so this is an unexpected win.

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The best part about it is she’s having fun. She loves the personalised technology, which remembers her curriculum progress and automatically adjusts to her learning level. Pretty clever, hey? 

The only issue here is she’s constantly interrupting me when I am trying to work to inform me of her progress.

She is also rather fond of taking photos of herself with it. In the true self-admiration of an almost four year old, she can’t get enough of herself.

But I love that she’s learning a wide range of skills needed for school and beyond including STEM skills, creativity, problem solving and much more. It's a thumbs-up from us.

We were also lucky enough to trial another value-rich LeapFrog product called the Magic Adventures Globe. My eight-year-old daughter has been glued to the globe, as a geography lover. A highlight of her month is getting her National Geographic for Kids subscription magazine, so this couldn’t be more perfect.

What is the Magic Adventures Globe?

The Magic Adventures Globe. Image: Supplied.

The LeapFrog Magic Adventures Globe features more than 600 custom videos from the BBC. It offers an interactive, educational experience that develops children's geo-literacy and global awareness.

It’s amazingly cool. You can tap anywhere on the globe using the stylus to hear thousands of facts, interact with unique games and trigger videos that let kids visually experience the world.

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The globe offers kids an interactive experience, which is a key feature. It  plays facts, videos, and animations across a range of categories including world flags, languages, currency and interesting cultural facts. My 10 year old has been referring to the Globe for school and wants to take it in for "Share and Learn".

The BBC videos are a great inclusion. Image: Supplied.

We may not be able to travel anytime soon, but we can build our girls’ global awareness from home. They have been learning about Ireland where their cousins live, and my daughter, India, is rather thrilled that a big country is named after her.

The only issue at this rate is we’ll be going through a lot of batteries. It’s fun, it’s interactive and it’s educational. The trifecta.

*Full disclosure: my husband has been fact-checking some trivia results with the Globe. It’s fair to say the globe is educational for the whole family. Who knew that Uzbekistan is one of the biggest cotton growers in the world?

The LeapPad Ultimate Ready For School Tablet and Magic Adventures Globe are available at BIG W, Target, good toy stores and online retailers.

LeapFrog
Available at Big W, Target (online), good toy stores & online retailers.
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