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



Fall 2013 Toys
Ages: 4 - 7 yrs.
Price: $49.99

Mr. Pencil books by LeapFrog encourage children to read and write with a series of interactive activities. Once the appropriate audio has been downloaded to the device (easy to do with the included cable and through the website), the user can interact with the books. For reading, the child can touch the device to certain parts of the book to hear them read out loud, from having an entire page read to repeating words. By tapping the device to special icons on each page, the user can even play simple games.

Mr. Pencil also guides children through rudimentary writing lessons. Using the special paper, children must tap the correct icon, then tap the letter to practice writing it. The writing tool has children listen to the proper order to trace each letter on the paper, ("Start on the long green line"). Children trace a letter, then try writing the letter on their own. Some children may feel more comfortable learning to write in this way, and for beginning or struggling writers, being able to 'see' what they write and get feedback from the pen could be a magical thing. For those who have already started writing with a pencil and practiced stroke order with iPad apps, the writing part of this toy was too limiting. Still, the copious instructions and reinforcement will help children who are learning to write for the very first time.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

Look for this product at:
Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc

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