My oldest daughter is almost four, and she has recently become a fan of Dora the Explorer. I tried to avoid Dora because I found her to be annoying, but then my daughter managed to see an episode and was instantly hooked. Sure, Dora is pesky and asks a lot of questions, but the positives outweigh the negatives, and so Dora it is.
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Right before Christmas, the Dora the Explorer game for the Leapfrog Explorer went on sale at Amazon. I had been hoping for just such an opportunity, so I bought it right away.
I gave the game to my daughter when I needed to keep her occupied because I was not feeling well. She played the game for almost an hour; she was just delighted.
Dora's Worldwide Rescue teaches children map skills, geography skills, and Spanish.
The premise of the game is that children from around the world are calling Dora on her cell phone to ask for her help. Apparently, that dastardly fox Swiper is up to no good, and they need Dora's help. The children give Dora directions using Dora's map, just like on the television show. For example, in the Egypt level, Dora must go from the desert to the river to the city to the pyramids. Your child will be tested on this- at the end of the desert, Dora will ask your child where to go next. Of course, your child can always consult the map if s/he doesn't remember the answer!
The main "game" involves guiding Dora around objects while collecting stars. She is traveling to the right, but there are obstacles and "enemies" moving to the left. The "enemies" aren't really adversaries who are out to get Dora, but if she runs into one of them, she does lose a star. However, unlike what might happen in a video game, if Dora runs out of stars, the game is not over. As a parent, I appreciate this- that's fine for video games, but especially since this is supposed to be an educational experience, it would be very frustrating if my child could not advance to the educational portions of the game if she kept getting stuck on the "fun" portion of the game.
Between the avoidance stages, there are little games that teach Spanish skills. In Egypt, children must help build pyramids by placing blocks over the correct Spanish number. The number is repeated in both Spanish and English. In China, children must climb a wall by listening to which direction (left, right, up, down) to move. In Australia, children must help Dora by circling the correct colored fish.
And of course, what Dora experience would be complete without an encounter with Swiper? Your child will have to help Dora find Swiper as he sneaks around and tap him with the stylus. After three taps, Swiper will be banished with the phrase "Swiper, no swiping!", and he will skulk away, uttering his trademark phrase, "Awww, man!"
My daughter really likes this game. I can't say for certain that the game has improved her Spanish because she also watches the television show, but her speech has definitely been peppered with Spanish words since Dora came into our lives. However, my daughter has learned about geography; she was playing a Mario game with my husband on the Wii, and Mario was in the desert. My daughter informed my husband that this was just like Egypt!
In general, the Explorer cartridges are a little on the small side, so I would suggest that you invest in a storage case or plastic bin to store the games. The last thing you want is to lose the game or to have someone step on it!
As far as price goes, we picked up the game on sale at Amazon for $14.95. The full retail value of the game is $24.95, and this is the price that you are going to see at places like Target and Toys R Us. However, there are frequent sales, and this is when you should try to buy the games. There are also coupons in family magazines, which helps bring the price down even lower. Amazon also tends to have Leapster games at closer to the $20 price point, so that is always an alternative.
I would highly recommend Dora's Worldwide Adventure. A lot of the games teach reading and math skills, so it is fun and different to have a game that teaches Spanish and geography. As a parent, I appreciate that there is something different out there. Of course, my daughter loves that it features Dora the Explorer!
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Amount Paid (US$): 14.95