Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Toys : Doing & Learning/Toy
V.Smile TV Learning System

V.Smile TV Learning System

Fall 2004 Doing & Learning/Toy
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
Manufacturer: Vtech
Price: $59.99
A terrific stepping stone to the more complex TV game systems, this unit – which plugs right into a standard television set -- focuses on child development rather than point totals or explosion counts. From its bright orange casing to its palm-sized “enter” button and its easy-to-use joystick, a child of 3 or 4 will not only be attracted to the V.Smile but will have a smooth go of it in learning how to use it. “Alphabet Park,” the initial game that comes with the package, challenges kids with phonics activities in several playful scenarios, from a forest course to a circus extravaganza. Along with clear, colorful graphics, a nice advantage is that it gives kids a child protagonist (instead of a hedgehog or robot) with which to identify while jumping and running through obstacles. Users have the option of adventure games or learning-focused endeavors, though both tracks are cognitively beneficial. Other game choices (mostly based on Disney stories) are thin for now but do maintain the learning emphasis best suited for this age group. The only real caution about the V.Smile is that its full educational and fun benefits probably won’t kick in until children are 5 and up. Still, it’s priced competitively, and even beats the sophisticated TV play systems for its kinder, simpler mechanics and delightful program choices.
Gregory Keer   ©2004 Parents' Choice
Gregory Keer is a writer, teacher, and father of three boys. Gregg's web site is

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