When Leap Frog sent our family a Leapster GS, two games and several apps in exchange for reviewing the product for them, my little ones pretty much thought we’d won the lottery! And I thought it was a pretty sweet deal too.
The Leapster GS is basically a hand held game device that’s ramped up with plenty of bells and whistles and packed full of educational value. As you all know, I’m not fan of “screen time” for kids. Movies and video games are very limited in our house, especially for younger kids. We’ve had a few different hand-held games in the past. This Leapster GS is certainly an improvement over ones I’ve seen before. First of all, the color graphics are great. The Leapster GS comes with a built-in camera and video camera. The kids can take pictures and video to their heart’s delight (and stop asking to use my iPhone). It has a touch screen and stylus that is connected to the machine! No worries about losing it. With 2 GB of memory, it’s got plenty of room to add-on more games and videos.
As for the kids, here’s what they had to say:
Jubilee (9) said: My favorite part is playing Escape of the Sillies game that came with it. It’s funny and you can take a picture and make the character have your face! And also you can make a silly sound.
Mordecai (9): Phineas and Ferb was my favorite game. I liked shooting the robots with water balloons.
Hezekiah (8) said: It’s really awesome. I like playing the game Brave on it and Escape of the Sillies.
Kalina (11): I like playing In the Kitchen with Hap. I like to bake and make the food. The camera is really cool because it has video too. You can draw on the photos and make photo albums. You can put videos in there too. There’s lots of camera games you can play.
Now here’s my mom thoughts on this product. Yes, I believe in severely limiting media/screen exposure for my children. I’m not an extremest though. We make a lot of trips to Seattle (100 miles each way) and have a medically needy child who by nature has to spend a lot of time sitting still. I also have a developmentally delayed child who learns very well from anything that operates on batteries or is plugged in. When choosing to have a handheld gaming device for my kids, I have to say, this is the one.
I like that all of the games have a learning aspect, and I’m not just talking math facts and drills (though there are plenty of those). As I watched and listened to my children play Brave I was very impressed with the amount of science presented in a comfortable way. From the Leap Frog website:
• Explore a natural world that’s true to science! Immerse yourself in flora and fauna that’s native to Merida’s forest!
• What’s a saddle? Learn the common names for parts of plants and animals, then challenge yourself with more scientific terms.
• Deduce answers through trial and error. Discover 100+ facts about plants and animals, and use what you know to make predictions about habitats and life cycles.
• Play target practice with physics concepts. Take a crash course in force and gravity, then experiment for yourself by letting your arrows fly!
I played In the Kitchen with Hap and was impressed with the concepts it presented: fractions, measuring, kitchen safety.
I appreciate that I can by apps for this device and not worry about losing teeny tiny cartridges. One of the apps that our device was pre-loaded with for review was a Pim video, to introduce the French language. I am by no means under the impression that my children will learn French by watching the videos, but I do believe it will make them more comfortable with the foreign languages. It also came pre-loaded with Busy Builder which builds spatial reasoning and logic.
My only complaint is that the system does not come with a charger. We’ve gone through two sets of batteries just “testing” it. The charger is available as an extra though, and I highly recommend it.
For $69.99, definitely a great value.