Max and Eliza love computer games. They have grown up with an older brother and sister, and so have been exposed to computers from a relatively early age. We find them really handy for rainy days, or times when we just need half an hours peace to get the dinner ready or help one of the older kids with homework.
We were recently sent the LeapPad Ultimate from Leap Frog. Billed as the perfect first tablet for kids, it comes preloaded with content designed to help core skills, such as maths, reading and science. It is also packed with music, puzzles and other games designed to help prepare children for the pre school and reception years.
The LeaPad Ultimate has pretty good graphics for a kids tablet, and has a lot of features that our children enjoy playing with on our phones and computers, such as a camera. However, this one is much more child friendly, as it has the option to edit photos with funny effects, such as googly eyes and clown noses.
As well as the preloaded content, you have the option to buy game cartridges. These slot into the side of the tablet, and are very easy to set up. There are loads to choose from, many of them featuring popular TV characters, and they all offer learning opportunities – everything from maths and science skills to teaching colours and numbers. They tend to be priced around the £15 mark.
The LeapPad Ultimate is quick and responsive, and Eliza can manage with very little help, wither using the installed stylus, or using her finger to tap and swipe the screen. You can set up profiles for different children, and these can be tailored to their specific age, so they can easily access their own games and play experiences. If you have more than one LeapPad, you can connect them with Wifi, and play together via multiplayer.
There are some great teaching tools on the pre installed content, as well as personalised learning. The LeapPad Ultimate features Just for Me learning technology and personalises select games, remembers curricular progress and automatically adjusts learning levels to your child. Most content can be played offline (with the exception of multiplayer options), so it’s the perfect tablet for taking out and about. It is very child friendly in layout, and the children have needed very little help with any of the games or features, as they are very responsive and simple to follow.
The LeapPad Ultimate is designed for children from 3-9 years, but I would personally say it is designed for children on the younger end of that spectrum. Eliza is 3, and it is ideal for her play and learning level, and Max is 5 and also enjoys this tablet. However, I think that children 7+ would probably find this a little young and would require a bigger range of games suitable for their age range.
Overall, I think the LeapPad Ultimate is a fantastic first tablet for children, and has some fantastic features. I love the educational aspects, and the way children can learn through play. There is a wide range of content available – something for everyone. As a starting level computer for young children, I don’t think you could go wrong with this tablet, although I would like to see the additional cartridges available at a slightly lower cost. The LeapPad Ultimate retails at £129.99, which is pretty good value for what you get.