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LeapFrog Go-with-Me ABC Backpack Reviews

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    Recommended? You Betcha!
    October 20, 2018

    Must have!

    This toy is absolutely a must-have in the educational toy field. When I was a kid I had a bunch of paper books you fill in that taught you stuff and this is basically the electronic version of that. It teaches the alphabet, how to write it, animals and to a smaller degree, vocab. One of the things that really impressed me about this is that in the case of animals, instead of choosing more simple ones, they choose more complicated names that really help increase kids vocabulary. For example, instead of being Frog for the letter F, it's the more complex Flamingo. Not only does this help them increase their knowledge of more animals, but it will help their language understanding overall.

    It has a lot of settings and games, which I'll describe in features, but the basic backpack features Alphabet letters, which can be removed by pulling them from the top and when reinserted they will trigger Mr Pencil (the game's host) to say the letter and an animal beginning with that letter (presuming the game is turned on). Even if the game is off, kids can use the drawing area to have fun drawing or practicing letters (standard wipe-away board, like an Etch A sketch but with a large, fun pencil (the aforementioned Mister Pencil) instead of dials.

    The fact that you can play the simpler games with younger kids and then the more complex ones as they get older, means it's definitely worth the cost, as it ages with them. The kids who tried it here, enjoyed it so much I don't even think they realised they were learning!

    For Ages 3+ This is the English Language version.

    As well as the play mentioned above, there's a bunch of buttons on it which start different modes of play. I'll describe these below in the order of the buttons from left to right:

    Letter Zoo - Insert or press the letter and Mr Pencil will say the Capital pronunciation, the 'sound' of the letter and the animal (with a small picture of it). For example: A, a, Alligator. Simple and good for younger ages.

    Meet the Letters - A game in which Mr Pencil will 'introduce' a letter and they must find it and insert and press it into the left side of the backpack. After they press it Mr Pencil will say the Capital pronunciation, the 'sound' of the letter and the animal (with a small picture of it) and praise them! Good for teaching them to recognise letters.

    Mystery Word - Mr Pencil will show an animal picture and pronounce a letter, they must find the letter and insert it. When done so it will appear on the panel and he will ask for another letter. Once the letters are done they will complete a word and he will teach them how to sound out and say the word and show a picture of it. A little more advanced and great for teaching vocab and spelling!

    Uppercase Letters - Kids can pick a letter (Insert and/or press as usual) and Mr Pencil shows them how to write it, inviting them to follow along on the drawing board. The only downside is he cannot tell if it is correct or not, so this is one game where parents might want to look over the shoulder to offer helpful corrections! When complete Mr Pencil will say the letter's animal and allow another letter to be picked. This is great for improving writing away from school.

    Lowercase Letters - The same as above, but with non-capitalised letters.

    Letter animals - This is a really fun one and great for artistically inclined kids! Kids pick a letter and Mr Pencil will teach them how to draw an animal made up of that Letter. For example, G becomes a gorilla face. He will teach one line at a time to build up the drawing. This gives kids a way to practice writing that is also artistic and helps with spacial recognition and many other things!

    Let's Sing - The last mode is a more advanced, but fun mode where Mr Pencil will sing a parade themed song (mostly the same chorus every time, but the lines will change depending on the letter/animal that is picked). This song will very quickly become old for parents and also get stuck in your head, but it's a great way to teach kids while they sing and dance and don't realise how much they are learning! The lines will teach about the animal's behaviour.

    It's really easy to get out of the packaging and set-up. Five minutes or less.

    The backpack closes to a hard shell and is reasonably heavy. It comes with two straps that you must insert (the instructions are a little vague, but if you face the buckle side out you can easily figure it out) to make it a portable backpack. It also has two different sound settings, the loudest is like normal speaking volume, with an exuberant punch and is perfect for noisy households or kids who don't hear well. The quiet setting is good for when parents need peace or it's early in the morning.

    It comes with the batteries, ready to go.

    + Teaches so many things, with 7 modes that vary from fun, to simple and educational.
    + Features more advance vocabulary in a way that will be picked up easily.
    + Allows kids to draw and write, both for fun, but also to teach them letters.
    + Mr Pencil is cute, friendly and has lots of animations.
    + Closes up to be portable.
    + Comes with batteries.
    + Ages up with kids, with some modes that are simple and some that are more advanced.
    + Even without battery function has uses.
    + Two sound modes to suit everybody.

    - A little heavy.
    - Straps are cheap feeling and must be attached by parent.
    - No 'silent' mode for public places.
    - Cannot detect or correct kids on their writing.

    Recommended: 100% a must buy for when kids are just learning to read and write!

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