This article is cross posted at the Technology & Learning Advisor blog.
Recently, my wife and I, purchased Leapfrog's latest tablet device for our daughter. The LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet is their newest offering and is aimed at children ages 4-9. This rugged little tablet comes in a couple of colors and is built to withstand the rigors of a youngsters day.
Once my daughter got it in her hands she automatically went to work using the stylus, and her finger, to set up her profile, navigate menus, draw, take photos, videos, and play learning apps. The LeapPad has many of the features of the full-fledged tablets such as a microphone, rear facing camera (stills and video), home button as well as a button for navigation. The touch screen is very responsive and the stylus does a nice job drawing and navigation. It does not connect to the Internet, no Wi-Fi card or browser, so you don't have to worry about little ones straying into uncharted territory.
The expanding choice of learning games are where this device really shines. You have a choice of purchasing them as downloadable apps or as small cartridges. Each one of them is game based learning for improving reading, writing, math, science and life skills. The games titles include familiar characters from Disney, Sponge Bob and others. Plus, with the included software for your PC call LeapFrog Connect. With LeagFrog Connect you can sync and update your LeapPad with apps or software upgrades. What makes this really power is what they call "Learning Path." Learning Path gives parent, or teachers, the ability to track the progress of the users so they can see if they are progressing well or need any with certain skills. Also, depending on the learning app, you can make the game more easier or more challenging. For instance, you can adjust math from single digit adding or subtracting all the way up to basic algebra and probability. Language and reading is also adjustable. You can do it or the app will adjust the child progresses for you. It even allows you to upload vocabulary words that will be included in the stories and games that are currently being played.
LeapFrog sells bundles, in quantities of five, for schools to integrate into their curriculum's. These bundles include the tables, AC adapters, headphones, cases and learning apps. For elementary school teachers these devices would make great learning centers as well as allow young students to apply creativity and learn responsibility in a familiar, game based environment. Each tablet allows up to three individual profiles so you can track multiple students with each unit. LeapFrog Connect is a great tool to track progress in the classroom too. The only drawback with these tablets is that they go through batteries fast, so be sure to use rechargeables or the AC adapters whenever you can. Overall, this little tablet is a powerful and unique solution for elementary learning. See the demo to get the full story and see it in action!