Disclaimer: I was sent this LeapFrog Mr Pencil’s Alphabet Backpack to review free of charge, but words and pictures are mine. This post contains affiliate links, see more information here.
After a reluctant start, my smallest is starting to learn how to write the letters of his name, meanwhile my eldest is whizzing through phonics and can now read and write surprisingly well.
As part of the LeapFrog Play Panel, we were sent Mr Pencil’s Alphabet Backpack to review.
Mr Pencil’s Backpack combines a high-tech electronic learning toy with a magnetic tablet and promised to keep them both engaged and learning!
Mr Pencil’s backpack is made of hard plastic and opens and closes up like a book.
It does comes with straps you can thread on so that it can be worn as a backpack. Batteries come already installed in the compartment on the back.
To open it up, put your finger under the catch and pull up.
Inside, the backpack has seven activity buttons at the top left, with 26 lower case plastic letters which can be pulled out of their slots. On the right hand side is a screen, on/volume switch (there are two volume levels), a magnetic drawing pad and a magnetic ‘pencil’ to drawn on the pad which is connected with a cord to the backpack.
Underneath each letter is an animal button which you can activate with your finger, or by pressing the letter when it’s in the correct slot.
There are many ways that the backpack can be used.
The letters can be taken in and out, matched up, used to create words and copied onto the writing pad. The magnetic writing board and pencil can be used to practice writing and then wiped clean by pushing the green ‘eraser’.
If you turn the backpack on, there are seven different interactive games you can play.
Briefly, these are:
Letter Zoo: Place a letter into its letter space or push the button beneath it to hear an animal starting with that letter and see the letter and animal on the screen.
Meet the Letters: This is a simple finding/matching game. A letter will be chosen and flash up on the screen, and then you must find it by pushing down on the correct letter or button.
Mystery Word: Find the letters based on the audio description until you’ve formed a three-letter word which you need to sound out. This is a great game for reception-aged children who are just becoming familiar with phonics and blending words.
Uppercase Letters: Pick an uppercase letter by pressing any letter, and copy what appears on the screen.
Lowercase Letters: Pick a letter by pressing it and copy what appears on the screen.
Letter Animals: Pick a letter by pressing it, copy it on the magnetic pad and then turn it into a drawing of an animal following the steps on the screen.
Let’s Sing: Add animals into the animal parade by pressing the letters and listen to the catchy little song (there has to be one on a LeapFrog toy after all). ‘It’s a parade, it’s a parade. Look who is marching in our parade’
There is fairly quiet background music while the games are playing and Mr Pencil animations to follow on the screen.
What did we think of Mr Pencils’ Learning Backpack?
It’s a nice little set; it all packs up again easily by popping the pen back into its holder and the letters into the correct spots and doesn’t take up a great deal of room on a bookshelf. However with 26 letters to get back into the right places, I do worry that one might get lost. They can be tricky for small fingers to get in and out.
The letters aren’t magnetic although they do look a lot like our letter fridge magnets. I imagine that might mess with the electronics of the toy but being able to stamp letters onto the magnetic screen would be fun.
However that aside, it’s a very good educational toy.
As with all LeapFrog toys, the backpack follows UK national standards and feature British spellings and phonics – so everything is pronounced correctly, in both their capital and phonetic forms. This is particularly good for my daughter (age 5, in reception) and she was so please that she was able to play the mystery word game successfully. It’s encouraging my son to copy the letters and spell out his name for the first time ever!
The LeapFrog Mr Pencil’s Backpack has an RRP of £39.99. It is sold via national retailers including Amazon.