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November 16, 2007


LeapFrog asked Parent Club to test some toys with our infants & toddlers. Of course, our panel jumped at the chance (see, didn't use that "leap" pun). As always, we invite older and younger siblings to play with the products -- to make the toy testing fair and fun.

Bilingual Counting Maracas
Ages: 6-36 months (6 months - 3 years)Suggested retail price: $19.99

These maracas introduce bilingual learning through counting numbers 1-10, colour names, and vocabulary. It features twinkling lights, silly sounds and music. There are 3 learning modes. Babies and toddlers will be singing, dancing and learning with fun. (Parent Club note: only one of the maracas has lights, counting, and music. The second maraca is a shaker only).

PARENT CLUB panel: "The maraca with the lights and sounds appeared very entertaining for my 19-month-old son. He played with both the English and French settings, having fun switching from one to the other.

I did notice that the kids were able to shake the maraca faster than it was able to count or recite colours.

Both my toddler and 4-year-old were not interested in the maraca that simply made a rattle sound when shook. “This one is no fun!” was the statement my 4-year-old made and a confused toddler asked for “Light on?”. When I explained that only one maraca had lights he promptly asked his big brother to “Switch please?”."

PARENT CLUB panel: "Fun, but my daughter was wondering why only one was lighting up and making music, so she ended up playing with only one.

What attracted her the most was the colour and to be able to repeat the name in french. She had no concept of shaking the maracas, but instead liked staring at the different light colour.

The 2 volume setting is nice but the loud setting is far too loud for their little ears and as they play with the button, it is hard to keep it at low…it can be a concern for a mother...

Far from being challenging for a 3 yrs old. And the language is too slow, she gave up waiting for the next word after a while."

This is the general feedback; one fun, twinkling, musical maraca and the second just not as much fun. Parents said these toys were very well made. The toys held the children's attention for short time spans.

Bilingual Animal Sounds Guitar
Age: 12-36 months (12 months - 3 years)
Suggested retail price: $24.99

This colourful guitar (with whammy bar and fret button)introduces numbers and animal sounds in English and French. It also encourages music and guitar sound effects. It has 3 learning modes; numbers, animals and music.

PARENT CLUB panel; "Fun at first, although, even at 3, my daughter doesn't really have the concept of playing guitar. Except for pushing the button to see the wheel spin, my daughter had very little interest. Of course for her age, we are past the animal sounds stage, but we are starting counting so that part of was fun.

There are a lot of buttons that are more of a decoration and they don't do anything and she was disappointed.

Not very challenging for a 3 year old.

As much as my daughter loved to boogie, dance or sing, it didn't really get her attention.

However it is a sturdy toy considering the amount of time it fell to the ground."

PARENT CLUB panel; "This toy was fun! My two kids (19-months and 4 years) already have fun playing with other electric toy guitars we happen to have, so the younger one was excited to see a little guitar that was more his size.

The number and animal settings were played with the most. The sound setting seemed limited and was rarely played with. My toddler appeared to enjoy both spinning the red knob in the centre of the guitar or pushing the whammy bar to turn the coloured number and animal wheel.

I liked to see learning of number order and animal sounds while building fine motor skills."

This toys seems to be a hit for the younger age range. The Parent Club panel loved the bilingual aspect of the toy.

We would like to, again, thank LeapFrog for bringing this challenge to Parent Club. We certainly throw our support behind toy manufacturers (like LeapFrog)that produce high quality, educational toys which engage children and promote fun.

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