The LeapPad includes a nifty software system that combines a "magic" pen with an interactive book designed to help children spell, follow a story and improve their vocabulary and concentration.
Users simply place the book onto the pad, take up the pen and follow the story. They listen to the story being read aloud first, then go over the words again with the pen, choosing whether to say the words, spell them or sound them phonetically. Each element encourages the child to join in, helping to develop an understanding of the sounds each word makes and how the words fit to form a sentence, and then a story. The real fun starts when the pen touches one of the characters: the slightest touch makes them speak and giggle along, adding a further dimension.
Included in the LeapPad reading scheme are: an excerpt from Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, a good starting-point for vocabulary development ; a Winnie the Pooh story, especially designed to build confidence and story-reading skills in young readers; a page dedicated to different parts of the body, where the child is encouraged to identify and then spell out the words; an impressive section about musical instruments and an introduction to foreign languages which involves choosing an everyday activity then choosing to hear the words in French, Spanish, German or Japanese.
You don't have to understand how the technology works; all you need to know is that this is one of the most impressive, yet simplest, reading and learning system you are ever likely to come across, combining some of the most basic elements of learning with some of the most complex. But the real strength of this product is that it is fun. Children will find the interactivity irresistible, and will enjoy hearing sounds and playing the games that are, without them even noticing it, encouraging them to learn some of the most important skills on the road to adulthood. Requires 4 x AA batteries (not included). Ages 4 and up. --Susan Harrison
Children can practise their reading skills with interactive books such as Pooh Gets Stuck, Bounce Tigger Bounce, Best Little Word Book Ever and Things To Know.
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