LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Clifford

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Clifford Game Poster Image
Big red dog's reading game light on activities.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn early literacy skills such as letter sounds and recognition, word formation, and rhyming. The mix of upper and lowercase letters in such an elementary title detracts somewhat from the otherwise quality activities. Still, the read-along stories with highlighted words and fun accompanying games will help teach and reinforce foundation reading skills. With its focus on fun and literacy, LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Clifford encourages kids to value books and reading.

Positive Messages

Emphasis on friendship and learning.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All characters are friends, support each other. Emily Elizabeth is a caring pet owner.

Ease of Play

Only uses stylus, with clear directions. Help is available.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

Based on a popular book, television franchise. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Clifford is aimed at helping preschoolers learn early literacy skills, including letter recognition, letter sounds, rhyming, and word building, through interactions with familiar and friendly characters. It's very similar to a previous LeapFrog title, Clifford Reading. Unlike some other LeapFrog games, this doesn't automatically level progress as kids play. Parents will need to help young players choose an appropriate level (out of three choices) with some guidance from a parent area in the main menu. Although controls are simple, very early readers may be confused by the use of upper and lowercase letters in different parts of the game.

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What's it about?

In LEAPFROG EXPLORER LEARNING GAME: CLIFFORD, Emily Elizabeth wants to read with Clifford, but they only have one book. She reads that to him (the letters are highlighted as she reads) but then asks for the player's help to find more books around town. In addition to the reading segment are four activities that help kids learn letter shapes, letter sounds, word formation, and rhyming. Kids earn a paw sticker for each completed activity. They also earn a new book for Emily Elizabeth's bookshelf for each 10 stickers. There isn't an overarching plot, so kids can focus on the activities they enjoy most.

Is it any good?

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Clifford has a lot of great features. It's simple enough for very young kids, with easy controls and clear activities. The games are repetitive but engaging for the preschool set, especially those who are familiar with Clifford. Kids will enjoy unlocking new books to read with Emily Elizabeth and Clifford, and they can read them at any time. In terms of learning, the word-formation activity (the painting game) uses small letters, while the letter-recognition (ship-naming) activity uses capital letters; this isn't ideal. Young kids tend to learn capital letters first, so it's confusing to mix it up, especially when they're exploring how letters come together to form a word. The biggest issue with this title, however, is that it's just too limited. The books add a lot of content, but they're not interactive. Although LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Clifford is a fun game for young readers, it needs another activity or two to make it feel like a full title. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Clifford. Have you seen him before? Where? Do you think the game is more or less fun if you know or don't know Clifford? Why?

  • Talk about letter sounds and recognition. Practice naming first-letter sounds of objects during the day. Point out letters on trucks, books, cereal boxes, and so on.

  • Talk about letter shapes. Practice making letters out of dough, string, beads, and other craft items.

Game details

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For kids who love reading

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