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With so many childrens toys out there that help to improve your childs learning it can be a daunting task looking for one that not only will entertain your child, but will help stimulate his/her brain too. It was just by chance that someone bought this for my daughters 2nd birthday, and at first it lay around gathering dust for a few months, but, by the time she was 2 and a half, it became a well played with little educational toy.
==What is it?==
Letter Discoveries toy developed by Leapfrog and it is designed to teach your child letter names and letter sounds (phonics), it is recommended for children aged 2-6yrs. The toy has a keyboard, a slider in the shape of a dog called scout (you use the slider to scroll through the different functions, including turning it off), a volume control and a paw button that helps you interact with scout; e.g. he will ask if you can find a letter that is red and you/your child presses one of the red letters on the keyboard, of which there are 5, the rest of the keys on the keyboard are blue (I think it would have been better to have a bit more variation, but two colours is OK to start with).The machine takes 3 AA batteries and I have found even with the amount of use this thing gets, the batteries seem to last for months before needing replaced. The toy is a good size for my daughter to hold in her hand and use without any problems.
There are four main funtions on this toy, each providing a different type of learning experience.
Upon sliding 'Scout' along to this function, you hear a voice saying "Lets dig up some letter biscuits, push a letter to hear its name". When my child presses the letter the alphabetical name of the letter is said followed by a different sound for each letter. My daughter doesn't really use this function much, as I believe it is better to teach her phonics first, as I find it helps a lot when teaching her words.
"Lets listen to some letter sounds, push a letter to hear its sound" is the instruction you hear upon sliding 'Scout' to this function. When pressing a letter you hear the name of the letter, followed by the phonic sound, plus an example of a word the sound is used in, and the sound the thing makes e.g "B makes the sound buh, as in bell" followed by the sound of a bell. My daughter loves this function and it didn't take her long to get to grips with it, now she can read certain words through learning phonics and she isn't 3 until next month. Unfortunately there is only one example of a word per letter, so not before long you run out, but there is no harm in making up new ones for your child by asking your child where buh for ball is, for example.
Letter music turns the toy into a piano, with each letter on the keyboard representing a different note, I managed to find the notes to 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' after a little play with this and I have taught my daughter how to play it too, I teach her by saying the name of the letter that needs to be pressed, this helps her recognize certain letters and also helps her learn sequences of letters eg. "a,a,d,d,e,e,d,h,h,j,j,v,v,a"
===Find a Letter Game===
Find a letter game gives your child a time limit to find each letter that is said e.g. "Find the letter A", when this is done in capitalized form, your child has a break for less than a minute before moving on to finding letters in phonics form e.g "Find the letter that makes the sound buh". My daughter is quite good at this one and this stems from me playing with her when the machine is turned off, asking her to point to certain letters, so practice has made perfect here.
My daughter got given hers as a present, but on a recent look on amazon.co.uk for the purpose of this review, I found that they sell it for £12.50, which is an absolute bargain in my eyes, especially as a childs education is priceless in my book.
When my child was first given this on her 2nd birthday, I couldn't have predicted how useful this toy would become and how much fun she would have out of it. Like I said earlier, the toy gathered dust for a few months before she started to play with it properly. I think my daughter was slow to learn at first and it's only in the last few months that her learning has really taken off, but each child is different, so I wouldn't rule out buying this for a 2 year old based on my childs learning abilities. The price is great for something that will last a long time and even though she has progressed well with using this, I think she will still find enjoyment out of it for a few months to come, worth every penny! My only negative is the one mentioned earlier regarding more colours on the keyboard, to help with learning other colours aside from red and blue.
Dig into phonics fun with the AlphaPet Explorer! This portable learning toy features Scout the puppy as your child's guide to learning letter names, letter sounds and more. Four learning modes extend the fun with letter and phonics games, music and help from Scout! Parents can connect to the online Leapfrog Learning Path for customized learning insights and ideas to expand the learning. Learning Skills: The alphabet. Phonics skills. Fine motor skills., Manufacturer: Leapfrog