The pen can be used by itself with three different modes
The Audio Books setting allows you to go through any Audio Books you have downloaded on your device using the left and right buttons and pressing play to listen to the story which is accompanied by sound effects.
The Music setting allows you to go through any music you have downloaded on your device using the left and right buttons and pressing play to listen to the music selected.
The Trivia Fun setting allows you to go through any Trivial Fun apps you have downloaded on your device using the left and right buttons and pressing play to listen as the LeapReader tells you lots of different fun facts.
The pen also features a headphone jack and volume keys.
There are lots of different books available with the LeapReader and the Read, Write, Listen book that is included in the starter pack is a great starting point to show you all of the settings and features.
The Purple Book Icon readers the page with no interruptions.
The Say it (green filled triangle) icon allows the user to touch a word which the pen will then say.
The Sound it (yellow filled triangle) icon allows the user to touch a letter, the pen will then make the letter sound of the letter in that word. This means that sometimes the sound is not the phonetic sound, for example in the word Hippo the O is not the phonetic sound but the letter sound. You can touch all the letters in a word one after another and it will make the letter sounds and then join the sounds together and say the word. When touching a letter from blended phonetics for example on of the e’s in sees the LeapReader gives the blended sound, when you touch both of the blended letters the LeapReader explains “ee in the word sees the letters e e make the sound ee” The sound it icon is also used in early reading series to sound out a word
The Spell it (orange filled triangle) icon allows the user to touch a letter, the pen will then say the letter name. If you touch all of the letters of a word in order it will say the letters and then the word.
The Game (Green or Orange star) Icon this allows different games to be played depending on the page being used. The games ask the users to find pictures, sounds or words on the page along with many other options. The repeat (blue circular arrow) icon allows the game question to be repeated.
The Stop (Red square) icon is pressed everything stops.
You can use the pen without pressing any of the icons to hear different noises that are stored within the pages
Get Ready to ReadThe sound it icon in the Get ready to read series gives the sound of a letter as it appears in a word. This includes blended sounds. The games in the get ready to read series include finding items containing a sound such as the “at” sound which allows the child to find hat, rat and cat on the page.
Early ReadingThe Sound It icon in the early reading series sounds out the letters in a word rather than individual letter sound. It is good at explaining silent letters and that some words such as “the” are difficult to sound out and should be remembered as a whole word. However sometimes the pen decides a word such as Marlin is also hard to sound out but I believe that it should have tried in some cases. The games in this series include finding words and explaining what the words mean and what sort of sounds are in the word like long “O” or “A” words. Another game in this series is letter blends where you can still hear both letters like “dr” or “sl”, you need to find words that contain these blends. There are also memory games available.
There is a special series of Learn to read books featuring Leap. These include short vowels, long vowels, consonant sounds and advanced vowels. The example page in the read, write, listen book seems as though it is the perfect starting set for learning to read and as it shows blended sounds by colouring them in it allows the children to recognise them easily. You can also get flash cards that accompany this series which help with short vowels, simple words and sound blends.
Read & Write
The LeapReader pen has a special nib that allows it to write on Leapfrog Learning paper. The nib does not write on any other surface to prevent marks in the books or elsewhere. The last page in the Read, Write, Listen book gives an example of the learning paper. Elizabeth and Alison were both frustrated by having to wait to follow the LeapReaders instructions before starting. They also realised that once the paper had been used it couldn’t be used again.
It was the ability to write with the LeapReader that really got me interested in it and I purchased the Learn to write and draw with Mr Pencil activity set. The Mr Pencil activity set is an 8 piece set with a book, 4 workbooks and 3 sheets of interactive stickers. What wasn’t clear to me when I bought the set was that although it works with the Tag and LeapReader you can not use the LeapReader in the workbooks to do the drawing and instead need to use a normal pencil. You are able to buy other sets which allow you to use the LeapReader for this purpose though. I have found that many sites are not clear enough on this. Unfortunately the set I bought was for the Tag and not the LeapReader so even though it contained workbooks these books are not able to be used in the same way the learning paper is.
The book includes a new read the book (yellow play) icon which allows the LeapReader to read the book from start to finish without interruptions and giving a chime sound when the page needs turning. The book contains shapes and letters for the child to trace using the LeapReader pen as well as games to take part in. I did find that the LeapReader takes a lot of time talking and Elizabeth became impatient with it as it sometimes didn’t register her writing if it was still talking when she started. This can be frustrating when she is completing letters or shapes she feels confident doing.
The workbooks contained in the activity pack teach shapes, letters and drawing in easy simple steps that encourage the children to use the workbooks. I will have to look into getting a LeapReader workbook though as the girls want to use the LeapReader pen in these books.
The stickers included all have a sound effect that the leapReader picks up.
Read on your own
The read on your own series have less icons on the pages with the purple read the page icon the most frequently found. Depending on the page there are also some games available. The read on your own series allow you to read yourself and touch any words that are too difficult. It encourages deductive reasoning, position of words, advanced vocabulary, story perspectives, word building, question words, plot elements and feelings and emotions plus loads more
Learn through Reading
The learn through reading series teaches non fiction subjects through reading the books, With subjects such as dinosaurs, the world and space there should be something to interest everyone. With games to play it helps ensure the knowledge is taken in whilst increasing the child’s interest in non fiction books.
Over all we really enjoyed the LeapReader but think we need a wider selection of books to really see its benefits and this time I will make sure I get LeapReader books and not Tag books. I only really have one annoyance and it is not really something that can be changed but when we bought a new book the girls wanted to play straight away but I had to connect the LeapReader to my laptop and download the files first which made them a bit impatient. I also bought a Tag Jake and the Neverland Pirates book which was advertised as working with the LeapReader yet the file is not available for downloading on to the LeapReader so we cant use that book.
We were sent the LeapReader for the purpose of this review. We have also reviewed the Leappad Ultra.