LeapPad 2 review: new software
As well as the 300+ apps and games that work with the LeapPad2 the new model comes with some bright new software. It comes pre-loaded with a bunch of games and apps, and you get two more – Cartoon Creativity and Art Studio – as soon as you complete online registration.
Cartoon Director is great, and really takes advantage of those two improved cameras for kids to create, direct and narrate their own animated movies.
There’s a heavy Disney tie-in with several of the games and creative apps.
Disney Animation Artist was a big hit with my daughter, who enjoyed drawing Mickey Mouse and friends with clear instructions and helpful hints.
While this and other art apps shouldn’t replace good old-fashioned drawing with pens and pencils, it’s still a novel way of teaching kids to trace and draw shapes fluently.
I thought Mickey Mouse would be a bit old-fashioned for my daughter but she enjoyed following the instructions and creating the drawings and animations of the old cartoon character.
Also from Disney is a Brave eBook, based on the latest Pixar movie. The LeapPad’s eBooks are built to improve word recognition and reading basics. Again this is no substitute for sitting down with a child and a book, but it’s a more productive app than many digital toys.
My daughter also enjoyed some of the games, such as Roly Poly Picnic and T-Rex Rush that both use the built-in motion-based accelerometer, and an updated Stretchy Monkey. These work much like iPad apps, and can keep little Johnny and Jane quiet for some time.
The games and creative activities are well explained first by voice (not too American but occasionally grating nonetheless) and pictures, so there shouldn’t be much time spent before your child is engrossed in the app or game.
One great feature of the LeapPad is that it automatically adjusts the learning to each child, asking more challenging questions as children’s skills develop, and most games feature different playing difficulty levels.
Prices for new games and educational apps aren’t in the iPad’s 69p range, with prices starting from £3.50 up to £7.50. Kids can get pretty blasé about the ease of getting new games and can tire of them quickly, so it’s worth checking that they use the installed games first before you invest in new ones.
As we pointed out in our original LeapPad review £5 isn’t too expensive if it keep your child quiet for half an hour or so every now and again, and a lot of the software has educational benefits, too.