Just in time for the new school year, the LeapsterGS arrived at our door. My kids "ooohed" and "aaaahed" when we opened the package, because the LeapsterGS looks and feels sleek. It has a large screen, 2 GB of internal memory, built-in motion sensor, microphone, camera, and video recorder. No more having to borrow Mom's iPhone to take pictures. Yay! Another cool and practical design feature is the built-in stylus that stows into the device.
Technological bells and whistles are great, but that's not what impresses me. I'm more interested in the educational component, of course! Kids can work on skills in reading, writing, math, science, and vocabulary. A content library organized by subject features hundreds of games, apps, e-books, music, videos, and more.
The question is: Does the LeapsterGS strike a good balance between education and entertainment? Too little education and parents won't be happy, too much education and kids will get bored. My kids (11,9,6) and I (a Mom/educator) ALL tested the LeapsterGS to share our range of persperctives. Here's what we each had to say:
"I like the "Monkey Soccer" game , because I move my players to score goals. I like getting new players when I answer the math questions".
""Pet pad" is my favourite game, because I like feeding the pet when he gets hungry. Practicing writing letters is fun with the stylus. I really like "Kat's Matherrific Magic Show," because I get to move the whole thing and do a lot of jumping up and down actions."
"I like having the e-books, such as "Brave." I think "Escape of the Sillies" is cute, because I can put a picture of myself and record my voice to become a monster."
"I like that Leapster GS remembers each child's progress, so content adjusts as kids learn. Core skills covered in math, reading, science, music, and writing are definitely useful for school and beyond. I especially like that I could browse with my kids in the content library, and not worry they would pick something mindless. All the apps have a meaningful educational component."
As you can see, the LeapsterGS strikes a great balance between education and entertainment. My kids were engaged in learning, but barely noticed while they were having action-packed fun. As a parent who is not a big fan of screen time, I had my reservations about the ability of a gaming device to deliver educational value. I was surprised by how much my kids were learning through the apps.
The LeapsterGS is sold at $89.99 and is recommended for children 4 to 9 years (although my 11 year old enjoyed parts of it too!) It comes with free content: "Escape of the Sillies" game app (customizing monster faces and math practice), the "Pet Pad" writing app, and a choice of one popular game app.
Downloads are priced at $5 and game cartridges at $29.99.
Here's your chance to win one of these educational toys for your family! We're giving away a LeapsterGS to two lucky YMC members!
All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell us why you want to win a LeapsterGS!
You have until October 19, 2012 to enter. You must be a YMC member and please be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win.