Thursday, November 4, 2010

Loving LeapFrog

Last night, I hooked Jordan's My Pal Scout up to our computer and finally downloaded the LeapFrog Connect software so I could personalize the puppy.

I say finally because, well, I got Jordan this puppy for Christmas last year. Yep, I suck.

Anyway, I got everything installed and set Scoutie up with Jordan's name, favorite color (yellow), favorite food (bananas) and favorite animal (bird). Actually, I don't think his favorite animal is a bird, but he's been having lots of fun watching them eat on our deck. Whatever.

So, now Scout says Jordan's name, sings songs about him and more. I couldn't wait for him to get up this morning and hear it. It was really sweet. He got a big grin on his face and looked at me whenever Scout said his name. It was as if he was asking me "Did you hear that, Mom? It's soooo cool!"

Then Scout got lots of snuggles, hugs and kisses from my very happy little boy. It was like Christmas morning all over again.

We have a lot of LeapFrog stuff in this house. It all started way back when I was expecting Logan. I can't remember if I bought it or if it was a baby shower gift, but I came into possession of the LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD.

I remember putting it in one day when Logan was maybe three or four months old. I was trying to introduce him to solid food and I needed to distract him for a couple minutes for some reason, so I put the DVD in. He was instantly smitten. He didn't react to other television programs the same way--even animated ones or baby-centered ones like Baby Einstein. It was something about that Letter Factory DVD that really interested him. Eventually, it was almost like a magic trick. Logan could be having the world's worst meltdown, but as soon as he heard the opening notes of the movie, he'd instantly quiet down and start watching it.

I felt vaguely guilty at times, because he liked to watch it a LOT. Like, every day. There was so much information going around about how kids under 2 should watch NO television at all and so on, but I'll be honest. That movie gave me 30 uninterrupted minutes to get dinner going, so I used it. I convinced myself that it was educational, and wouldn't hurt him.

Then something happened.

I don't really remember how old he was but he wasn't much older than a year when we were reading an Elmo book and he pointed at the letter M, I think it was, and said "Mmmmmm."

What? Could I have really heard right?

I pointed it out and said "Logan, what sound does the letter M make?"

And he said it again. Mmmmm.


That day, I determined he could identify about five letters by the sounds they made. It was probably more, but he got sick of telling me.

I started kind of working with him, pointing out the letters on signs and such, and I'd sing the catchy little tune from the end of the Letter Factory DVD. We played with the LeapFrog Fridge Phonics letters, too, which also had a catchy little tune about the letter sounds.

It wasn't long before Logan knew his alphabet, but he didn't know it like other kids did. He would say the whole thing phonetically. Instead of "A, B, C..." he'd say "Ah, Buh, Kuh..." It was pretty amazing.

Logan was reading certain things when he was still two and really reading words--sounding them out--at age three. Now, at age five and in kindergarten, he is full grade levels ahead in reading compared to the rest of the class.

Jordan, who is 21 months old, already knows all the letter sounds. He can say them all on command (well, he has trouble pronouncing a couple, like J and V, but he comes close enough that you can tell he gets it, he just can't make his mouth say it correctly yet) and will point out letters on signs and make the correct sound. He is also getting the "real" names for letters, so if I ask him what this letter is, he'll say "A" and if I ask the sound A makes, he'll say "Ah." It's pretty neat and impresses people when they hear it. He's not even two!

Jordan isn't nearly as into the Letter Factory DVD as Logan was. He watches it maybe once or twice a month, but it was enough to teach him the sounds, and we also supplement it by playing with the fridge phonics and singing the Letter Factory song.

We also own the LeapFrog Talking Words Factory, Code Word Caper, Storybook Factory and Math Circus DVDs, the Word Whammer, Fridge Wash N' Go, Fridge Farm, a voice recording toy that goes on the fridge (not sure what this one is called), the Learn N' Groove Animal Sounds Guitar, Learning Drum and Phonics Bus, and Logan has a Leapster 2 game system with a number of different games.

Yeah, we have a lot of LeapFrog stuff.

For the most part, I like the toys, games and DVDs. I am not impressed with the drum or the guitar, and frankly, neither of my boys have had a lot of interest in those things. The rest of it, though, is awesome.

I can't stress how much I think the combination of the Letter Factory DVD, Fridge Phonics set and practicing with me out in the "real world" has contributed to Logan's reading success. It seems like Jordan is headed in the same direction, and that thrills me. I would recommend these LeapFrog products to any parents who want to help their child excel in reading, all through play.

I really like My Pal Scout, too. He's cute and cuddly and sings sweet songs. I don't think he teaches much, but he is lovable and watching Jordan smile and cuddle him is really heartwarming.

I am not exactly sure why I felt compelled to write this post about LeapFrog toys. The company didn't seek me out to do so, and they don't even know I'm writing it. They don't know me from Eve! I guess I just feel strongly enough about some of the LeapFrog stuff to want to share it with other parents who might be looking for some worthwhile holiday gifts for their kids.

I know one thing I have on Jordan's list this year is the My Own Leaptop. I think it's something he'd love to play with. For Logan, I might pick up a couple more Leapster games, such as the new Toy Story 3 game.

Well, anyway, that's about it. LeapFrog is cool. And it might even help your kid get smarter.

Oh, and if you're a LeapFrog representative and want to send me some LeapFrog stuff to have my boys test out, I'd be more than happy to do that, and blog about it. I friggin' LOVE LeapFrog!


Samantha @ Mama Notes said...

I'm so excited! I bought the DVD on Monday but we haven't watched it yet. I also bought the leap frog fridge thing and Lucas likes it. He keeps pushing it over and over and over again though which can get annoying, ha! :)

I can't believe Jordan... sooo cool! I am excited to see how the movie works for us!

Krystal said...

Samantha, the annoying songs are a good thing. Sing them when you're out and about, for walks, at the store, in the car, etc. That's what I have done with the boys, and it WORKS!

Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun said...

I love leapfrog too. And I really think M's 30ish mins/day I let her watch either Word World or Super Why helps her with her letters. She knew all her letters by 18 months and has been singing her ABCs, saying the sounds for all her letters, and counting to 10 for months now. I do work on those things with her too, but I think she gets something out of the shows too.