Monday, November 15, 2010

Reading Toy Research

Help, all you moms of little ones, out there!  I'm desperately researching the latest technology toys for Christmas so that I can mold my future genius so that he's reading War & Peace by age 3!

Any of you with suggestions of learning and educational toys for a 2 year old would be welcome, but I'm specifically looking at getting Bradley either a V-Tech VReader or a Leapfrog Tag Junior.  Both are toys geared at instilling an early love for books, and teaching them the building blocks for reading.

From my preliminary research, here's what I've gathered:

The Leapfrog Tag Junior is for children ages 2-4.  You buy the Book Pal (on sale at Walmart right now for $28.54), and then purchase books to go along with it.  Books are anywhere from $6-$14.  The child then holds the chubby Book Pal, touches it to the pages, and the book reads aloud to your child.  More info from Walmart's and LeapFrog's descriptions: 
  • Download audio for your child's books, and keep up to five at a time on your book pal!
  • See your child's progress through the online LeapFrog Learning Path, and get printable activities to expand the learning!
  • Each Tag Junior board book introduces a different preschool skill - such as the alphabet, counting or social play - through 24 playful activities and more than 130 audio responses.
  • Open-ended questions and fun sound effects encourage children to take charge, as they touch any part of any page to bring words, pictures or activities to life.
  • After their child has played, parents can connect the book pal to the online LeapFrog® Learning Path to see their child's progress and get printable activities to expand the learning!
  • Included sampler book, If I Were.., has 16 activities and over 70 audio responses.
The other front runner I'm looking into is the V-Tech VReader.

It retails for $54 at Walmart right now, and is for kids ages 3-7.  Unlike the Tag Junior, books are not something separate to keep up with, you download them right to the system.  It's more money upfront, but should grow with your child longer, assuming they will play with the same toy for 4 years.  (I can't think of any toy that I played with for that long, with the exception of my Barbie House.) 
  • 4.3" color touchscreen
  • Plays fully animated stories with story narration, character voices, vivid graphics and music and sounds
  • Includes 3 ways to play: watch the story, reading games and story dictionary
  • USB port and SD memory card slot for expansion
  • You can download books online- looks like the books are about $20
  • Many titles available online to download for free
My preliminary research aside, mydilema is that I like the price of the Tag Junior, but the downside is keeping track of the books and the chubby pen that goes with it.  (Of course both products have cases you can purchase separately, but I won't be doing that)  It also is only geared for ages 2-4.  On the other hand, the VReader would grow with him longer, and it's all one piece, and the screen is a touch screen and seemingly more interactive.  But yikes, the cost!  Any savvy shoppers out there have any advice based upon experience, hearsay, or stumbled across these reviews while doing your own Chrstmas shopping research? 

2 comments:

Rachel said...

I have actually looked at both and decided on the tag junior for two reasons. 1) It was age appropriate for him now which is when I want to use it. Mason constantly wants me to read him books while I am getting ready for work, cooking dinner, etc. I think with this system it will allow him to figure it out on his own and entertain himself for a short bit. The touch screen on the V-tech and keyboard seems a little overwhelming for a two year old in my opinion and I have found that many times with toys that are two complicated he doesn't have the patience or skills to figure them out and just won't play with them. 2) I figured if he out grows the Tag junior in a couple months since he has a summer birthday (as Bradley does too) we can always upgrade him to the V-Reader or whatever else they come out with in the meantime as a birthday present.

I am not excited on having to keep up with all the books and pen but I plan to have a specific box in his playroom that they go in.

If you get the Tag jr. let me know and we can switch out books to keep it exciting and new for the boys without spending the money on more books.

Keri said...

CRAP! blogger just deleted a long reply I made. I would get the regular TAG reader. It can read the Tag Jr books and the regular books, but the tag jr can not read the regular books. There are also printable coupons out right now (target $10 and manuf $5) that you can stack to save $15 on it. Kristen is younger than Bradley and can use the Tag reader like a pro.

May I also recommend the LeapFrog Letter Factory and Word Factory DVD's? That is how Cam learned to read and he is in Kindy reading at a 4th grade level :)