Pros: fun, educational, entertaining
Cons: little expensive.
Along with the Leap Frog Leapster, I also purchased the Leapster Kindergarten cartridge, for almost $25 at Wal-Mart. Even though the Leapster does come with two included games built in, you have to buy the additional games separately. This cartridge is the 2004 Parents' Choice Recommended Award winner. It is recommended for ages 4-6. In addition to the cartridge, you get a parent guide that breaks down all of the parts of the game.
Here is some info about the Kindergarten cartridge from Leap Frogs website:
Welcome to Carnival Marvel! Step right up to play 6 fun-filled learning games that teach 45 essential kindergarten reading and math skills. Play learning games and you can earn tickets to buy monster parts. Then build a complete monster and bring it to life for the monster theater review!
Heres what this cartridge teaches:
45 essential reading and math skills
Upper/lower case letters
Numbers and counting
This game is set up with a carnival theme, and there are 6 games:
Mirabelles monster shop
Each game starts with a tutorial, and you learn how to play the game. For each game you complete, you receive tickets that you can use in Mirabelles Monster shop to buy parts for your monster, and then teach him how to dance.
Heres a breakdown of each game (a summary from me and the manual):
Using the arrow pad with this game, you navigate through the obstacle course, you spell words along the way- youll hear a voice tell you what word you are spelling, and what letter you should be trying to collect, and youll be timed on each game. There are spooky ghosts, spiders, snowballs, and bubbles that slow you down though. There are 3 different levels, and then on each level there are 3 different courses to choose from. This game kind of reminds me of Pitfall on Atari. You earn a ticket for each round you complete, and an additional ticket for each round that breaks a record for speed.
This is where you splat a moving target, and there are 3 levels to choose from here as well. You use the arrow keys to move a sprayer that shoots out green goo to hit specific picture words, such as words that start with the same sound, end with the same sound or rhyme (which are on 3 separate levels.) After answering 3 questions right, players move to a bonus round, where you hit as many items as you can to collect points that help you get more tickets.
This game is a screen with six balloons with pictures on them, and you have to pop the one that the game says like the one with the red square on it. There are three levels to this game, level one is about shapes and colors, shapes and numbers, shapes and letters, numbers and colors, letters and colors, pictures and colors, and letters and numbers. Youll see any of these combinations and it will ask to pop one particular one.
Levels 2 and 3 players have to determine which balloon is different based on stuff like shape, color, number, letter, animals, clothing, food, and transportation. For example, you may see 5 trains of several different colors, and one blue boat- and you have to pop the one with the blue boat because it is different. Some of these get rather tricky if you dont think through.
You get tickets based on score during the game play, plus the bonus round, where you pop as many balloons as possible.
This is where you make cotton candy, but you must figure out the pattern on the candy, and then make the next candy in the pattern. Level one includes basic colors and shapes, and level 2 you fill in the missing ones of a pattern, such as the alphabet, numbers, patterns, and patterns that have mixed items such as upper and lowercase letters. Level 3 is where you complete words by filling in with consonants or vowels- but dont worry, you have a choice of two letters to choose from, and they both make words, like fox, box, and so forth. You score points by how many candy pieces you make in a round.
Mirabelles monster shop is where you cash in all of your tickets to buy parts for your monster. On level one, you just do straight tickets, but on level 2, you group tickets into groups of 2, and on level 3 you subtract tickets from a total number. The more tickets you have, the more stuff you can get, and the higher the ticket cost, the better looking the items are- arms, legs, music to dance to, heads, and torsos.
This is where you build your own monster with the parts you have purchased and teach him to dance with the pen- you put the pen on him and move it around and make your own dance moves.
My 5 year old is all over this- she will be entering Kindergarten this upcoming school year, and from this she has spelled out some three letter words and has been sounding them out while she plays. But, if your child is past Kindergarten, they probably wouldnt go for this, it would be below their level.
The games are pretty fun, and she doesnt get bored with them, even though she has played them all a whole lot. I find myself getting into it as well, and the higher levels of the game are challenging as well.
I have no complaints at all about this game except the expense, but if it is helping her learn a little, I dont mind as much. To her, the game is fun, and she is not growing tired of it, it keeps her interested and entertained, and she is learning along the way.
Review of the Leapster game system: