Educational Game Systems Guide
Video games generally get a bad rap for too much violence and promoting a sedentary and anti-intellectual lifestyle. While that may be true in certain cases, these 11 game systems promote edu-tainment so kids can learn while they have fun.
Tag Reading SystemPictured Above
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Price: $49.99 for Tag Reader (includes 1 book) / $7.99-13.99 for each book
The Tag Reader is a touch-and-talk reading pen device that brings stories to life. As children touch the pen-like Tag Reader to the pages of specially printed books, a small camera in the tip of the device "reads" the stories aloud. For beginning readers and sight word students, they can also use the pen to read individual words.
The Tag Reader pen also keeps track of your child's progress. Attach the pen to a PC or Mac to monitor their progress online via the Leapfrog Learning Path System (which also works with other Leapfrog products).
The Tag Reader supports a library of more than 20 books, including classics like The Little Engine That Could, and stories starring popular characters like SpongeBob SquarePants and the Disney Princesses. Several Caldecott Award winners like Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type and Olivia round out the new system's growing library.
Even with the special pages, the books look and feel like regular books, which should help make your child's transition to reading bigger books easier.
Note: LeapFrog reps recently told us that The Tag Reader will soon replace the LeapPad. That's a good thing since the Tag Reader seems to have solved several of the LeapPad's biggest problems (short battery life and expensive book/cartridge combos).
Read & Write LeapPadAge Range: 4 - 8 years
The Read & Write LeapPad makes reading and writing interactive. A special LeapPad book (sold separately for about $11) attaches to the system where you then insert a cartridge that corresponds with the book. The system then gives cues to prompt your child to read and write. An attached "Magic Pencil" serves as pen or pointer, depending on the task. LeapPad's Books include Dora the Explorer and Lightning McQueen from Disney's Cars. Some parents have complained that the system lacks long-term durability (although kids seem to use previous LeapPads as makeshift food trays) and others say the Magic Pencil stops working after a while, but most sing praises for its help in encouraging their kids to read and write.
Leapster 2Age Range: 4 - 10 years
Price: Console: $ 49.99 / Games: $24.99 (each)
This handheld system helps builds school skills such as letter recognition, spelling, math, vocabulary, and even some mind building riddles. With a wide variety of educational games, this handheld device may give your kids something exciting to help them learn through adventure while teaching reading, math, vocabulary and critical thinking. Kids can play fun games, read electronic books and watch interactive videos. It's color display and backlit screen is gentle on the eyes while a jack for optional headphones can keep it quiet too.
ClickStart: My First Computer!Age Range: 3 - 6 years
Price: $59.99 console / $19.99 per game / $9.99 for power adaptor (highly encouraged)
ClickStart My First Computer can turn any TV into a child's first computer. Learn some Spanish with Dora the Explorer and learn math with the Toy Story gang. With a wide array of characters and skills to choose from, ClickStart is a fun way to learn the skills needed later in life. With its child friendly wireless keyboard, a one-button mouse and automatic shut-off, four games are included with the console as well. Since the main unit gobbles C batteries, we highly recommend purchasing the $9.99 AC adaptor as it's more economically and environmentally friendly.
VSmileAge Range: 3 – 7 years
Learn math, spelling and logic with V.Smile. This console features a microphone for a fun sing-a-longs and a writing pad stylus to teach letter writing. The system plays "Smartridges" which are made especially for 3 to 7 year olds and feature popular characters like Dora the Explorer, Spiderman, Thomas the Train and Shrek. These familiar friends join your child on exciting adventures that guide them through age-appropriate skill levels and developmental activities. Two different game levels let children advance the curriculum and game speeds as they progress.
V Smile PocketAge Range: 5 – 9 years
The V Smile Pocket is a portable learning system that can go anywhere but can also connect directly to your television for big screen game play. Made for kids ages 4 to 8, it allows early learners to play a variety of exciting and imaginative games anywhere they go. With familiar characters to guide them through age-appropriate skill levels and developmental activities, children won't even realize that they're learning lessons in language, math and science while playing.
Whiz Kid PC Learning SystemAge Range: 3 – 6 years.
Whiz Kid is an interactive learning machine that uses cartridges containing 20 double-sided multi-curricular activity pages. Slide any activity page into the systems learning board and the Whiz Kid will know what activities to play. Whiz Kid PC Learning system also features a touch sensitive screen and stylus and over 100 different activities and games.
V FlashAge Range: 6 – 10 years
Price: $49.99 console / $19.99 per disc
Give your child some mind-racing video games loaded with learning. Similar to systems built for older kids, the V-Flash has quality sound, streaming video and 3-D. Each V Tech Flash disc is encased in a protective scratch proof cover and easy play. Players can navigate a library of real video customized to each V Flash dic.
V Smile BabyAge Range: 9 months – 3 years
Price: $39.99 / $19.99 per Smartridge
Small enough for your baby's lap the V Smile Baby connects wirelessly to a receiver hooked into your TV. The signal works up to nine feet away. Choose from three different play modes. V Smile Baby works with Baby Smartridges, which slide easily into the receiver. Each Baby Smartridge features learning games with five different baby signs and teach important skills like colors, numbers, sounds, animals, music and shapes.
Smart Cycle Physical Learning Arcade SystemAge Range: 3 – 6 years
Price: $99.99 / $19.99
If you have a couch potato kid, then Smart Cycle might be the solution to get them moving. Simply connect the stationary bike to a TV, plug in a software cartridge, and you're ready to go. Your child must pedal and steer to keep the gameplay going with the action displayed on the TV screen. Three different modes of play include a Race Mode where the child can race with other cars in the world or time race with a second player. The Smart Cycle comes with one software cartridge; others are sold separately.