Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Playing LeapFrog: Mr Pencil


You'll be aware that E started school in August - now this is challenge enough for any child, but more so when you are 4 and a half and have weak muscles.  Muscles are required to write and you might not think that you need much strength to write but you need a certain amount and E needs to use soft pencils to help her make her mark using the strength that she has.  E is falling behind on her writing so I was ecstatic when, through my association with the Britax Mumbassador Program I was given the opportunity to review products by LeapFrog, the children’s educational entertainment brand, especially as the first product was a learning to write app learning toy.  Learning needs to be fun, doesn't it?

The Learn to Write with Mr. Pencil  app toy helps turn your current iPhone, iPod touch or iPad into a learning adventure and priced at £14.99 is an affordable way for children aged between 3 and 6 to learn and be entertained.

The app was easy - if a little slow - to download from the App Store and Mr Pencil helped unlock the door to Doodleburg.  Mr Pencil is a chunky, funky stylus more suited to little chunky fingers; both E and N (who is 6) found the stylus to be awkward and a tad cumbersome: perhaps a slightly slimmer Mr Pencil could be used, enabling the child to develop a normal pencil grip which proved difficult in this instance for both the girls.
E was introduced to Dot and Dash who guided her through the activities, writing letters (both lower and upper case) and numbers (1-20) and drawing shapes.  By completing the levels she decorated the buildings, playgrounds and fountains of town Doodleburg in rainbow colours in time for a celebratory parade.  The animation is simple but cute and engaging; E's favourite piece of animation was the tiny paper aeroplanes which took to the sky with sound effects that made her smile.
E found the drawing and writing to be a little frustrating - the iPad is very sensitive and it's important that nothing else is touching the screen bar the stylus; E often had a finger or wrist in contact too so I would definitely recommend using the iPad and Mr Pencil at a table in a good sitting position.  She also found that she couldn't stray far off the guide without a resounding "Good try!" or "You can do better!" and her quickly replying "You're so annoying!": a little bit of inaccuracy should perhaps be allowed, especially if the app toy is aimed at younger children who might lose their patience easily.
Overall E and N loved the app; although finding it frustrating at times, the animation and sense of fun they got from playing - and learning - made Mr Pencil a hit, with them enjoying plenty of time in Doodleburg.  E even let her friends "have a go" and play with it when round for a play date; if that isn't recommendation enough, I don't know what is!
Finally - because we often rate our days at school out of ten - E and N sum up this review:
"Mr Pencil?  He's a 9/10!"


Disclaimer - I have been asked to review this through my role as a BRITAX Mumbassador - a unique and exciting community of parenting bloggers who work closely with BRITAX to review their products, discuss topical parenting issues and to share fun family experiences with!  I have received no fees for this post - but instead benefited from being able to keep Mr Pencil - but instead have written it because I believe that learning should be fun.


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