Looking for a new toy for a child between the ages of 2-7 that can help teach them developmental skills they will use throughout their life and in school? Meet the LeapFrog LeapStart.
The LeapFrog LeapStart is a learning toy that includes 12 different interactive and reusable activity books. Each activity book is designed for a specific age group around an educational topic. These books give children knowledge, practice and exposure to new skills in many subject areas.
Children can learn about animals, colors, letters, numbers, geography, and vocabulary. They hold a stylus in their hand and practice fine motor skills by tracing through paths, and writing letters and numbers. Some books offer older children STEM activities and information on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
What is the LeapStart?
The LeapStart is an interactive activity book system that will grow with a child. Once they achieve some basic skills, it challenges them to learn newer,more difficult skills, as they develop from early preschoolers into Kindergartners and first grade students.
There are 12 different, coil-bound books. Each book has about 30 pages. The pages are sturdy, and durable with beautiful pictures. 1 book will fit inside the LeapStart plastic carrying case. An additional book can be stored on the outside of the case. Books are appropriate for different ages and skills.
Each book is bought separately.
The LeapStart is a hard plastic case that opens like a book. Once you turn the case on, place the book inside. Remove the large stylus pen, which is attached to the case with a cord. Let your child turn pages of the book and touch the pen to the pictures in order to hear facts and play games.
Small icons on the the bottom of the page also engage children in participate in different learning games. Each page has different games to play. Once children answer enough questions to pass the first round when they tap the green icon, they can tap the orange icon and play harder games. For children who need help, there is a hint button. The LeapStart has a headphone jack for quiet listening through headphones, too.
There are actually 2 different LeapStart cases. 1 case is recommended for kids ages 2-4. The LeapStart toy featured in this picture is recommended for kids ages 5-7. The difference is between the 2 is the size of the case and the design of the pen. A larger pen is available for younger children because it is easier for them to hold. No matter which case you buy, all LeapStart books that you do buy will work with both cases.
Make sure to buy a book that is the right developmental age for the child you are buying for. The books have been developed by skill level and are sold by age group: Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and First Grade.
What Comes With the LeapStart When I Buy It?
Inside the LeapStart box you will find instructions, a USB cord, the LeapStart case and a starter "trial" book. You will need to install 2 "AA" batteries by using a screw driver to open a compartment on the back of the LeapStart. Check for specific LeapStart pricing and availability on Amazon.com.
How Do You Set Up the LeapStart?
Install the batteries first. Then you will need access to a laptop or desktop computer in order to play with and use the LeapStart. Connect the LeapStart to the computer with the USB cord. If this is your first LeapFrog toy, download the LeapFrog Connect software onto your computer. If you have other devices like the LeapReader or the LeapPad Platinum or Epic tablets, the software may already be on your computer. An adult will need to register the LeapStart in the LeapFrog Learning Path with a valid email.
Using the LeapFrog Connect software, with the LeapStart connected to the computer through the USB cord, click on each individual activity book that you have bought. This will begin to download the audio information that works with the book onto the LeapStart. The time it takes for books to download will vary and is dependent on your internet speed.
The LeapStart is compatible with both PC and MAC computers.
The LeapStart should work with the trial book that is in the package without any online setup. If you buy any new books separately, they will need to be downloaded onto the device before a child can use it.
If the audio is not downloaded onto the LeapStart properly and a book is placed inside, once the child taps the pages with the stylus, it will prompt them to find an adult to help with setup to download the audio from the website.
What are Some of The Book Titles?
Books are separated by age and skill level.
Level 1 Preschool books for kids teach exposure to letters, shapes, counting and the ability to follow daily routines.
Level 2 Pre-Kindergarten books teach early reading and math skills. They also share information on teamwork, communication and school routines.
Level 3 Kindergarten books provide a way for children to learn about phonics, as well as basic addition and math. Some books share information on animals and global awareness for recycling and conservation.
Level 4 First Grade books expose children to STEM concepts for science, technology, engineering an math. They also include vocabulary, problem solving and communication.
Each book provides many different learning activities and lots of games. Books are re-usable with many layers of games involved. Each time a child puts the book down and picks it back up, there is something new to be learned and a different page to explore in more detail.
There are stickers included in the books that are also interactive and able to be read by the stylus.
Each book has a list of developmental milestones and goals included so parents can also learn about the specific skills their child is learning, too.
So, What Happened When A 6-Year-Old Met the LeapStart On A Summer Vacation Afternoon?
During some downtime in a typical, summer "lazy day" afternoon, my son, who is about to enter first grade, was in the middle of watching a television show when I connected the LeapFrog LeapStart to my computer to download the audio for several books at his age level.
He gave the toy a quick, side-eye glance, rolled his eyes at my enthusiasm and returned to watching television.
The television, iPad and interactive technology devices are fierce competitors, especially when it is sitting right next to a toy or experience that looks and feels a lot like school.
Summer can be frustrating. The downtime and change of pace is great, but as a parent I feel like all those reading and math skills he worked so hard to learn in Kindergarten are disappearing.
I tried to encourage my son to use the LeapStart when it was ready, but the first time I offered, he just wasn't interested. Timing is everything.
So I left the LeapStart right in the middle of the living room floor. I walked away and we left for swim practice.
When he returned home later that night, he was told to take a shower, and didn't want to. Before I knew it, he was sitting in the middle of the living room floor exploring different books with the stylus.
Minutes later I heard him giggling and he was yelling for me to come listen to one of the funny facts he learned in an animal book. The next day he was snuggled in my bed browsing the books while I got ready for work. He left for camp that same morning with the LeapStart tucked under his arm, playing games and learning information in the car during the commute.
The LeapStart itself is a little bulky, kind of heavy and awkward to carry. I wouldn't suggest that you plan to take it on airplane travel. But I certainly did not say no when my son wanted to bring it in the car! Definitely consider finding a pair of headphones to keep nearby.
Many of the LeapStart books do not include words, which is great for nonreaders. The LeapReader books which have words, double as great first books for kids to read, even if they don't have the toy handy. While the pictures and illustrations are beautiful, the LeapStart books are pretty dependent on the use of the case and the stylus to get the most information from them.
Every child is different. Not all kids will be jumping for joy over an educational toy, but sometimes placement and timing is everything. Don't give up, keep trying. Different opportunities appeal to kids at different times. And maybe you give them a choice of a household chore or playing with the LeapStart and you never know what will happen!
Finding the Right Educational Toy is Important
As an expecting parent building a registry of baby gear and toys, honestly nothing prepared me for just how fast my child would grow and develop. Many people say, "Don't blink, time flies." But it honestly really does. Baby swings, rattles and activity gyms are quickly replaced with action figures, ride-on toys and educational toys.
You might be standing in the toy aisles reading the toy packaging, asking your friends for recommendations on Facebook, or spending time reading online reviews just like this one.
As a parent I like to balance out the toys that I buy for my son to include not only popular toys, but educational ones as well.
There are so many important developmental milestones children reach, it can be overwhelming. LeapFrog, by history, is a company who is committed to creating educational toys and technology for kids that teaches them critical skills, but in a fun way. The company is an incredible resource for parents. Take the time to read their website, sign up for their newsletters, receive emails from the LeapFrog Learning Path and read the LeapStart books with your children. Each book includes checklists for developmental skills they are teaching children at each level. LeapFrog always shares important tools, tips, tricks and ways to build confidence so that as a parent you can really be successful in being your child's first teacher.
Where Can I Buy the LeapFrog LeapStart?
Make sure to determine whether you want the LeapFrog LeapStart for Ages 2-4 or the LeapFrog LeapStart for Ages 4-6. You can buy the LeapFrog LeapStart through online retailers like Amazon.com. If you need one quickly, they are also available in toy stores and major retail stores with toy aisles.
If you are having a hard time finding a title you want in a toy store, you can also buy directly through LeapFrog.com.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.