Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leapfrog Tag

When I got the call from the school nurse today that Jack was sick and that I should come pick him up, I was sad. But at least it gave me the opportunity to have him and Quinn test out our new Leapfrog Tag.

The Tag is an electronic pen kids can use to interact with books. It's kind of like a LeapPad, but all packed into a compact package. You can have the Tag read the book to you, have it read individual words, and more. It's pretty cool.

And it's kind of like magic. I know there's probably a perfectly logical reason you can put the Tag on the word "frog" and it reads the word "frog" instead of just saying "bwonk," but I don't know what it is. I'm going to chalk it up to voodoo and move on. I don't have to know how it works to like it.

We have a LeapPad, and have gotten a lot of use and fun out of it in the several years we've owned it. However, the Tag improves on the LeapPad in a big way. Tag books are hardcover, which makes them a lot harder to destroy. Plus, where our LeapPad and accessories take up a big chunk of space on our shelf, the Tag system doesn't take up much room.

But the thing I love most is that I no longer have to keep a book and a cartridge together with the system. With the Tag, I only have to keep track of a book. Which, if you know me (or my kids), is a big deal.

The tradeoff is that once you have a Tag book, you have to create an account at LeapFrog and upload the audio for the book to the Tag pen. The process was quick and pretty easy, impeded only by my inability to type the same password two times in a row to register.

Once we were all set up, we started playing. The books are really nice quality and the narrators were wonderful. Kids can choose to have the narrator read by word, by page, or by entire book. And there are games on each page and at the end of the books that kids can play.

I wasn't able to find anything on the pages that didn't make a noise if I touched it with the pen, and believe me, I tried. (I may have played with it after my kids went to eat lunch.)

This system would be great for travel. I wish we'd had it when we drove from Maryland to Wisconsin (and back) this summer. My kids might have read books instead of watching so many DVDs in the car. And it would even work on airplanes because it has a headphone jack as well.

The book selection seems to be pretty good too. Ozzie and Mack comes with the Tag, and they have more than 20 more books and games available.

Jack particularly liked Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He laughed and grinned as he listened to it four times in a row. Then he read it himself out loud, giggling and exclaiming the whole time.

My biggest problem with the Tag is that I see several books in their library that I want to own and I'm a little afraid that I'm going to have to go buy out the section at Target. (I did just see that the LeapFrog website has a buy 3 books, get the 4th free offer.)

Quinn had a freakout when he saw they have The Little Engine That Could, and I think I Spy would be a lot of fun with the Tag. I am not, however, excited by the possibility of listening to Walter the Farting Dog. I can only imagine the sound effects. I think it would cause problems in my three-young boy household. I do think that my kids would find it hi-larious though.

Bottom line: I'm excited by this toy. I think it's a great way to maintain kids' interest in books, and is probably a good way to get them started on pre-reading skills.

Honesty Clause: LeapFrog gave me the Tag and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for free. The Tag retails for $49.99. Books retail for $13.99 each.


Niksmom said...

Hmmm, what age range or cognitive skill range would you recommend this for? I like the fact that you have to touch the pen to the book vs. the Leap Pad we have where Nik can pull the book out and simply touch all over the pad and still gets the gratification of sound. It sounds like w/Tag he would have to at least LOOK at the book, no?

Anonymous said...

Niksmom, there is an option where the kid can touch the icon at the top of the page and have the page read -- but it's at least a page by page thing.

My 3-4 yo loves his tag reader, and he's had it for a little while now. We leave it in his room so he can "read" after nap by himself if he wants.

Oh, he wants....

Great review, Stimey!

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