“ Brand: VTech / Age: 2 Years+ / Type: Learning Toy „
I like this learning toy. It is a nice fun way for pre-school kids to learn the alphabet and the nice big red learning pad with carry handle looks bright and attractive. The letters are a nice big size for the little fingers to press, the vowels are red and the consonants are blue. Above each letter is a picture ie a picture of an egg above the letter E.
This is a good learning tool for your child and provides a fun way to prepare their learning before they start school.
There are five activities for your child:
Learning the letters and sounds: press a letter and it will say what the letter is and what it sounds like.
Learning the beginning sound: lets your child press a letter and you will hear the beginning sound.
Find a letter: you are asked to find letters ie - Where is the letter that makes the sound J?
Learn to spell the words: press a letter and it will spell the letters of the picture associated with that letter.
Fun time: press a letter to hear many sounds like a Cat or Dog.
The machine also turns itself off when there has been no activity for about 5 minutes which is good for saving batteries!
There's also buttons in the shape of a circle, star, square and triangle. When you press them it tells you what they are. My two year old knew her shapes by 20 months because of this toy and it keeps her occupied. My 6 year old uses the letter pad to practice his alphabet - it is a good toy and it cost about £20 so good value for money.
VTECH Alphabet Phonics Teacher
After rummaging in my 5 year old brothers room looking for a fun looking toy to play with.....ooops I mean review! I discovered this Alphabet phonics teacher. The toy itself is made for robust brightly coloured plastic. As shown in the picture above it is a smoothly shaped board with various buttons on. The toy is about 12 inches in height and 14 inches wide and is the ideal size for children. The toy has many different features and is designed mainly for children ages 2-5.
The toy has a green slider switch which enable the toy to be switched on to one of the two volume levels. This is particularly useful as the quieter volume can be used if you want some peace! As you switch on the toy you are greeted with a little cheerful tune and depending on what activity has been selected you will be instructed what to do (for example it may say 'learn the letter sounds'). There is also a yellow repeat button which when pressed repeats the last thing that has been said.
At the bottom of the board there is a blue slider, which enables you to select one of the 5 fun activities. The first activity allows the child to press the letter buttons to hear the how each letter is pronounced. Although this seems like a relatively simple activity, it has really helped my brother with his spelling, as he knows all of the sounds. The consonants are blue and the vowels are red which also teaches children the difference between the two. At the end of the alphabet there are four shapes; a star, circle, square and triangle when pressed in the first activity they say the name of the shape, for example 'star'. I don't really have any criticisms of this activity as it is essential for a child to learn the letter sounds and they can also guess what they think the letter sound will be before they press the button to make it more fun.
Sliding the slider along activates the second activity. This activity teaches children about the letters that words begin with. Each letter button on the board has a picture above it of something beginning with that letter, for example the letter 'r' has the word 'rug' above it, there is also a picture of the object and on each picture the beginning letter is printed in Braille which I think is really good. When the buttons are pressed in this activity the word is read out and then it says what letter it begins with, for example; 'ant begins with a'. This is a useful activity although I found that with my brother it was better to develop it into more of a game, for example I would point to the word above the letter I was going to press and ask him what it begun with and then we would press the button to see if he had got it right. That extra bit of interaction makes it more fun for the child.
The next activity teaches children the letter name and the sound. When a button is pressed the voice says the name of the letter and then the sound, for example; 'M is the letter, m is the sound'. This is a very useful activity as it is often hard for children to like the name of the letters to the sounds and this activity is perfect for helping them develop their letter skills.
The fourth activity is focussed on putting letters together to form words. As the child presses a button the word is said and then it is spelt using the letter sounds. For example if the letter 's' is pressed the voice says 'peg, p-e-g'. This activity allows the child to learn about how the letter sounds are put together to form words, I don't really have any criticisms about this other than it could be made more interactive, for example the child could be given the word and then they have to use the letters to type it rather than just listen to a voice. Although this is a good activity, making it more interactive would improve the child's learning.
The last activity in the list allows the child to press buttons to hear tunes. Up until now the shape buttons have only said the name of the shape but in this activity they each play a different tune, for example the star shape plays the alphabet song and the circle plays old macdonald had a farm. The letters also play various tunes. This activity is fun for the child as it allows them to make little tunes or sing along to the known tunes, however my biggest criticism is that the tunes attached to the letter buttons are rather uninteresting series of notes and I think it would be a lot more fun for the child if they were tunes that were known to the child for example 'Humpty Dumpty'.
Overall the toy is probably more educational than it is fun which is a shame really as education could be made a lot more fun and it would drastically improve childrens development. The toy is robust and attractive and I have no complaints about the way it is made. Although there is a range of activities they are perhaps not as well thought out as they could be and simple adjustments could have made them a lot more interesting for the child. There are many good things about the toy such as the way it teaches the child the letters and how letters fit into words and I think that the Braille for each letter is also a marvellous idea. I do feel that the toy tries to sell itself as being very educational and complex in terms of the variation of activities but this isn't really the case. The toy cost us £18.99 from Argos and I would not say its good value for money but I couldn't say its poor value for money either! The batteries seem to have lasted well although perhaps because the toy is not played with as much as other toys! All in all, yes it is education and yes it can be fun for a child but their interest will soon fade in the toy and I think VTECH could have made the toy a lot better with just a few adjustments. I probably would reccomend this toy although it is very average.
Being a mum is great, not just I have 2 fabulous children but because I get to play with all their toys! My family are big on educational toys so it's guaranteed that at every special occasion one of my children will receive a gift to help them learn and develop.
V-tech Alphabet Phonics Teacher-
The V-tech Alphabet Phonics Teacher is just one of the many toys my little ones have received to help them as they learn, it is a chunky plastic lap desk style toy with vivid colours to catch your little ones attention, it has a handle style detail meaning they can carry it around and it is lightweight enough for a toddler to pick up.
The phonics teacher has 3 volume level settings, changed by sliding across a yellow switch, you can have the toy off, quiet or loud. It also has a battery saving mode where it will put itself into sleep mode if it hasn't been played with in a while, it comes back on by simply pressing any button.
The toy has 5 different learning modes selected by sliding a blue arrow onto the appropriate modes picture. The modes are- learning whole letters and sounds, learning the beginning sounds of letters, finding the letter, spelling and a music mode where you press the letter to hear the sound of the picture which matches it, so for example pressing the P will get you the piggy sound whereas pressing the T will get you the sound of a tap running. Naturally there are all 26 letters of the alphabet and each one is matched up with a relevant picture, there are also 4 shaped buttons, a star, circle, square and triangle, these will either say the name of the shape or play a nursery rhyme. There is also an additional "repeat" button which will play the word/sound that you last heard.
Of all the modes I find the mode for learning whole letters one of the most educational it teaches the name of the letter as well as sound the letter makes, this helps my little ones make the connection between not only the name and sound of the letter but also what it looks like. The spelling mode I find is actually one of the least helpful, at least for my 3 year old, as it teaches the spelling in phonics (the sounds of the letter), this may be the way many schools and nurserys help teach spelling but mine didn't and I don't know many adults that write or spell using the phonics rather than the letters name. The "find it" mode is probably my little boys favourite, you have to find the letter either by its sound or name and when you get the right one you are congratulated, it's a great mode for helping them become familiar with the alphabet.
Each mode will repeat the instruction just given if your little one is taking their time finding the letter/sound, this is great for helping them out if they're having problems finding the letter or remembering what they're looking for, my little boy on occasion has a short attention span and often forgets what letter he's looking for so this is a helpful feature to keep him involved with the toy. The congratulations your little one receives when getting a letter right is very encouraging, the toy will also encourage the little one to "try again" if they've made a mistake, this is all done in a friendly sounding voice, all encouraging them to enjoy learning, my little one loves to copy the phrases as he plays.
One of the little features I like about this toy is that the vowels and consonants are different colours, the vowels being red and the consonants being blue. This is a great way of helping the little ones learn which is which. Another nice feature with this toy is that above the letter buttons on the pictures are brail markings for the letters making this toy not only suitable for fully able children but also those with difficulties with their sight.
In general the toy is easy to understand and simple to operate, my 3 year old has no problems in setting the modes and playing the learning games. The sound is clear and the wording precise, the only problem I've found in regards to the sound is that "D" and "B" are said very similar and when asked to find those letters it is easy to get them wrong, while you are given the encouragement to try again it's difficult for a little one to learn which letter it is they actually need. If I can mishear them as an adult then a toddler is definitely going to have trouble spotting the difference.
A Parents view-
From the practical parent point of view the toy is wipe clean, seems durable enough to withstand the assault of raging toddlers, it takes 2AA batteries which come included, their compartment is on the reverse of the toy and is secured with a screw meaning there's no risk of your little one getting to the batteries, unless of course they're a dab hand with a screwdriver! The choice of a low volume setting means that Mum or Dad can go about their day, with junior is playing with the toy, and have no worry of being driven insane by the songs and sound effects, the voice is also relatively inoffensive unlike some of these toys.
I wouldn't say there are hours of fun available from this toy, half an hour to an hour is enough to keep your little one entertained while teaching them at the same time, any longer than that and they soon become bored. While this is a popular toy with my little ones it is not their favourite, they much prefer the V-tech alphabet town, which is a similar toy but has more challenging games and teaches more than just the letters. The lifespan of the Phonics Teacher is limited as once the know their alphabet and the sounds each letter makes the toy will lose its appeal as it will be too easy.
Overall this is a good educational toy to help your little ones learn their alphabet, it's great for when you haven't got the chance to sit down with them and teach them yourself and it gives them a real sense of achievement when they get it right. It's not the best of this style of toy as the modes are limited to letters but it does the job that it's intended for. If you've got a little one who doesn't usually like to sit down and learn this is a great way of encouraging them, after all in their eyes it's just a fun toy and who wouldn't want to play with that.
Price & availability-
Despite much searching I have not been able to find a rrp for the toy, I've heard people say it's available in Argos for £18.99 but I've not been able to find it personally, it is however available on Ebay from as little as 99p.
Go to Vtechuk.com for more on the vtech range.
VTech Alphabet Phonics Teacher has 16 fun activities. Can be used to help teach English and Maths. It teaches phonics with a friendly English voice. Has 3 skill levels and lowercase keyboard. Ages 2-5.