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LeapFrog Tag Reading System (toy review)

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In follow-up to my “Ho! ho! ho! ribbit! ribbit! ribbit!” post, I am happy to share this toy review* with you — just in time for Christmas. It’s for the LeapFrog Tag Reading System.

What is it?

The Canadian Toy Testing Council awarded this toy with the Children’s Choice Award in 2009 and since then the company has continued to expand its library of books to accompany the system. It’s a unique system and I think the best way of really getting a feel for how it works is to use the demo. I really like this demo because it simulates the exact experience of playing with the toy using the specific book Ozzie and Mack (shown in this image) that comes with it.

Developed for children aged 4 – 8, LeapFrog describes the toy as follows: “With each touch of the Tag reader to the book’s pages, words talk, characters sing and stories live out loud.”

In addition to the advanced technology of the Tag reader (the pen-like devise) itself, what distinguishes this toy from Leap Start — the older model of this toy that I bought my daughter five years ago — is the LeapFrog Learning Path. By plugging the Tag reader into your computer, the Learning Path lets see parents what your child is learning as well as how they are progressing on the path for their academic grade.

Practical details

The price point on this product is approximately $60, depending on the retailer. The Toys R Us Canada website, for instance, currently has the Tag Reading System on sale for $49.97. In addition to Toys R Us, other retailers include WalMart, Zellers, Loblaws, Mastermind Toys, and Target.

The toy comes with the Tag reader, the Ozzie and Mack book, and a USB cable to attach the reader to your computer in order to access the Learning Path. The Tag reader requires two AAA batteries.

The Reviews

I had three different parents test this toy with their children. The child testers are aged 5, 6 and 7. Two boys and one girl.

Overall the reviews have been very positive, such as this comment from Trish, whose 6-year old son was a tester:

He has used it as a reading aid (reading on his own until he requires help), used it on listening mode to enjoy the story without Mom (nice), and has particularly enjoyed the games which require him to use reading comprehension, memory and letter recognition. So far, I like what I see. I have not needed to suggest or move him in the direction of the toy.

And this comment from Stefanie, a grade one teacher whose five-year-old son tested the Tag system:

The word he kept repeating was “fun” — fun, that was fun Mommy, can I play again it, it’s fun eh mommy!

As well as what Stella, my 7-year-old daughter, had to say:

This is really interesting technology, isn’t Mom? And you know I like technology!

The not-so-glowing comments relate to the book enclosed with the system. Unsurprisingly, a book that strives to appeal to both genders and all ages between age 4 and 8, is a bit generic. Although all three children still used the enclosed book and have yet to use other books with the system, it’s clear that all three would prefer a book to their own tastes. (Stella, in particular, was not interested in the story at all and was only interested in using it as a means to play and experiment with the system.)

Parent tips

  • If you’re going to invest your money in this system, I’d suggest presenting both the toy and a book chosen especially for your child’s taste at the same time (i.e. don’t count on the free book that comes with the toy).
  • All three parents agreed that the best child candidate for this toy is the child who is not a natural “book worm.” The toy really helps to spark an interest in books and reading in general.
  • A personal tip from my own experience is that LeapFrog toys (I own an older model Tag and Leapster) are sanity-savers for airplanes or long car-rides because they offer an independent and intuitive form of play. (They also all have head-phone plug-ins for quiet play!)

The Complete Reviews

I’ve created a separate page for you to read the complete reviews. Overall, all three reviewers give this toy a strong endorsement. But if you’re thinking seriously about buying this toy, then you’ll appreciate the valuable comments that they’ve shared from their testing experience.

Tester #1:  Trish is a mid-40s mom who chose to stay home until her son T started school. In addition to mom-duties, she also works part-time as a fitness instructor and a freelance writer. Her son T is 6 years old and his favourite activities are lego, lego and lego! (Although he and Stella do manage to squeeze in some Bakugan time when they get together.)

Tester #2: Stefanie is a 30-something bilingual elementary school teacher. She is also the busy mom to two young boys: Andrew (age 5) and Peter (age 9). I have never met her sons but if they are anything like her, they’re energetic and like to take life by the horns! She brought the Tag home to test with her 5-year-old, but instead found her 9-year-old jumping on it.

Tester #3: I wanted to test the toy myself to get a feel for it and to understand how the Learning Path works. My son, however, is too young for it and Stella seemed beyond it. Although the manufacturer’s guidelines suggests ages 4-8, she reads chapter books so I didn’t think it would be a fit. But she’s been testing it though and is more than happy to share her thoughts.

LeapFrog Tag Junior charitable toy donation

A big thank-you to everyone who contributed suggestions for where we could donate 5 LeapFrog Tag Junior reading system toys! (You can read a review of the LeapFrog Tag Junior reading system here.)

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The lucky recipient will be the Youville Centre. This Ottawa-area centre helps young mothers complete their high school education and, among other things, provides a licensed early childhood education program for their tots.

What do you think?

Was this review helpful? Is there something more that I can add to these reviews to make them more useful? I’m all ears!

If there’s interest and I can find the time before Christmas, I could also share reviews on Leapster 2, My Pal Scout, Alphapet Explorer, and the Text & Learn.  

* Disclosure: I accepted LeapFrog toys, batteries and an honorarium fee from Harbinger(the PR agency for LeapFrog in Canada) to host a playdate. In exchange, I agreed to test the toys with my children and any other children of my choice. The agreement to test the toys does not come with any expectation from Harbinger for me to blog about them or to review them on my blog — just to try them out and share them with others. If I do choose to review the toys, I am at complete liberty to write about them in a positive, negative or neutral fashion. If you have any questions about this disclosure notice, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Comments

  1. Wow…waaaay more detail than me.
    I am obviously a lazzzeeeee reviewer!

    But all good input about the products for sure!

    • On the contrary Crunchy — I really liked your review! If any readers are looking for more info on LeapFrog toys, please be sure to visit the “Crunchy Carpets” blog, a Vancouver mother.

  2. Actually, Andrew loves reading and will read a book multiple times, however, it is finally nice that he can be more independent with his reading and I do not have to read the story OVER and OVER. I also picked up another book this week (ack – 14.97)and I know he will have the ability to improve his independence AND his confidence. (I am heading over to the tag junior review and thinking of my nephews…)

    • Glad that Andrew is getting good value out of his book! A funny thing happened to me after I had already posted Stella’s comments … at bedtime story time, we realized that she knew the Mack and Ozzie book WORD for WORD. She totally loves it and memorized the whole thing — for some reason, she just didn’t want to admit it to us!!

  3. Thanks for this Julie! Very helpful. I’m certain my soon to be 4-year-old would love this, I’m skeptical though of inspiring a love of reading with technology. Doesn’t jive with me, but maybe it’s just a means to an end. I think we’ll try it out!

  4. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep
    it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back
    in the future. Cheers

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