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LeapFrog Leapster 2 toy review (gift idea for children aged 3 to 5)

LeapFrog’s LEAPSTER 2 Multimedia Learning System

If you are hunting down a toy for a special preschooler in your life, this review may be of interest to you. (Disclosure details and other LeapFrog toy reviews can be read here.)

What is it?
It’s a hand-held multimedia system for preschoolers that offers game-play, reading, drawing and videos. The focus is on educational fun. You can try a demo here.

Price point: Approx $70 (see Toys R Us Canada online here) for the Leapster 2 system. Additional games are approx $20-30.

TESTER #1:  Heather, a 30-something facebook buddy of mine and her 5-year-old son Andrew

1. Did your child take an immediate interest in it? If not, why not do you think?
 
Andrew was immediately hooked, even with only the downloadable game from LeapFrog!  He has a collection now of different games and he is absolutely engrossed!  He is learning different skills but at the same time he is completely enjoying himself and not realizing it is educational.

2. What is your overall impression of this toy now that your child has had a chance to play with it? 
 
I highly recommend this toy.

It is very durable (Jason, my 2-year-old, put that to the test when yanking it out of Andrew’s hands and throwing it on the floor). 

It is very easy for children to insert the games and do it all by themselves.  Andrew was 3 when he played his first Leapster and was able to do everything on his own.  Now at 5, he is still enjoying the Leapster and some of the original games that are geared for less advanced play.

3. Did you try the online Learning Path for parents? If not, why not? If yes, how did you find it? 
 
Yes, I find this feature really cool.  It is neat to see what they are actually up to and learning while playing this toy.

4. Would you buy this toy for a child on your Christmas list?
 
I would absolutely buy this toy over and over and over again!  10x over for the amount of “sanity time” it has brought our household!!!

TESTER #2: Moi, a late-30s gal and my 7-year-old daughter Stella

1. Did your child take an immediate interest in it? If not, why not do you think?

Yes, she was very keen to get her hands on it! (even though her tester was “pink” … imagine a tone of disdain in the voice)

2. What is your overall impression of this toy now that your child has had a chance to play with it? 

I have a soft spot for the Leapster because when Stella was three and we were half-way through a 24-hour-flight to Australia, I pulled out this toy and it kept her so happy and occupied until the end of the flight! She then played with the Leapster regularly from age 3 to age 6. At age 6, she was given a Nintendo DS and the Leapster soon became second fiddle.

From what I can tell, the difference between the Leapster and the Leapster 2 are (keep in mind that I have never actually played a video game, so it’s all a bit of a mystery to me. Pac-man is about as far as I’ve ever gotten):
1. The control buttons are slightly modified and the stylus pen is in a different spot.
2. The Leapster 2 lets your child play the games on the computer or the portable game console.
3. The Learning Path feature is available with the Leapster 2.

I loved the Leapster. And I love the Leapster 2 just as much.

I think it offers a younger child a nice introduction to the “gaming” world, without actually letting them play battling-type/violent games. Instead, all of the Leapster games are friendly and learning-focused.

3. Did you try the online Learning Path for parents? If not, why not? If yes, how did you find it? 

I probably would not have tried it out if not for the sense that I should fully test the product. But I’m glad I did now. It is fascinating actually! For instance, I can see how many words Stella spelled correctly and then track the progress of her spelling as she continues to play the game over time.

4. Would you buy this toy for a child on your Christmas list?

Yes, I think it’s a fantastic toy for children aged 3 to about 6. With Stella, we kept it out of sight unless we were going on a trip. It then became a special treat for long car rides and air flights.

After testing out the Leapster 2, I still feel that — yes — I would buy this toy. In fact, I’ve already ordered the Star Wars reading and the Star Wars math games for Christmas!

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