As part of the LeapFrog Play Panel, we were invited to test out the new LeapStart 3D.
The LeapStart 3D is an interactive book for children aged 2-7. Using a special stylus, your child can point to things in the compatible LeapStart books and it will read or describe what they’re pointing at giving them an interactive experience away from a large screen.
Books featuring their favourite characters, from Paw Patrol to Disney Princesses, contain games and challenges which encourage a whole range of skills including maths, writing, reading, matching and problem solving.
The LeapStart 3D is slightly bigger than the standard LeapStart and has a pull-out handle. It has an additional feature to the LeapStart because it has a little screen which projects a holographic image to a mirror above when special LeapStart 3D books are being read.
Our new LeapStart 3D arrived while we were on holiday and was out of the packet before I was in the door.
The first thing to note is that it requires 2xAA batteries. Why am I stating the obvious? Well, because when I unpacked it (after, in my defence, a very VERY long journey back from Devon) I plugged it in to charge over night before realising in the morning (when it didn’t work) that it actually needed 2 AA batteries and I’d had it plugged to to the data only micro USB post. Clever Fran.
You will in fact need the cable to connect it to the computer to download the audio and video content for any books that you might have (the sampler book is pre-downloaded). It’s easy to do although you will need to create a Leapfrog account if you don’t already have one. The prompts will guide you through the rest of the set up.
The LeapStart 3D comes with a preschooler/primary school age sampler book which is pre-loaded.
You can interact with the little alien characters (who sing the alphabet or notes on a piano depending on the mode) and intergalactic space race game on the inside of the hard plastic cover.
The book itself gives previews of books that you can buy for your LeapStart 3D.
The books slot into the book with the binding rings fitting on to little clips on the spine which is done by pushing it firmly on. To get it off just pull the book, using your finger to widen the space between the spirals. You can only have one book at a time installed.
The stylus/pen is designed for small hands and is chunky with grip either side. The nib of the special pen is hard and it’s easy to mark the cardboard by stabbing too hard so make sure you emphasis to your child how important it is to be careful!
The LeapStart 3D is compatible with any LeapStart books, however only LeapStart 3D books have animations.
Books are available in three levels from preschool (2-5 years and 3-6 years) to primary school (4-7 years). Each book is designed to help with a specific skill set.
The Around Town with Paw Patrol LeapStart 3D book is a Level 2 book for 3-6 year olds, which teaches jobs, places and problem solving.
The Paw Patrol book has 31 pages, and a page of stickers at the end. On each page or double-page there is a new activity, and each one has two games meaning over 30 activities in total.
Touch the green star with the stylus for the easy level or two orange stars for a harder challenge which can earn you a sticker for your reward chart. Put the stylus on the blue lightbulb for a hint and the red hand to stop the game.
As a massive Paw Patrol fan, my youngest (3) was able to blast through the first challenge which involves identifying the pups based on a description. Some of the challenges were similarly easy for him; finding objects and solving problems. Others, like following sets of directions, were more tricky but my oldest (almost 5) could complete most of the challenges.
The little animations of the pups and icons are nice; they don’t pop up very often and not on every page as I might have expected. There were more animations in the PJ Masks Moonlight Maths game that we received for this post (although the book wasn’t a 3D one!) and more music too; and I think this tipped the balance in favour of the game over the Paw Patrol one (but only just).
It’s a nice addition when the little pictures do show up, but I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity or worth paying a premium over the standard LeapStart based on the animations in the Paw Patrol game.
Overall though, there are a lot of positives about the LeapStart 3D.
First off it’s a great alternative to tablets and tv time, still interactive enough to be fun and keep young children’s attention.
It encourages them to listen and concentrate as you need to follow the instructions to win the games, and the games themselves are cleverly designed to teach a whole range of skills whilst being fun.
Both children have had fun with the LeapStart 3D and I think they’re a great idea; they’re happy to sit quietly playing for a while which to me feels much better than parking them in front of a screen if I need to get something done. We will definitely be looking out for a good deal on some of the Level 3 (age 4-7) reading and writing games for my oldest who is just about to start school.
The LeapStart 3D is available in blue and green or pink and purple. It costs around £50 and is available from national retailers or online from Amazon using the links below. Games are priced individually.