A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that LeapFrog LeapTV: Letter Factory Adventures uses all three modes of the LeapTV system (standard controller, light/pointer controller, body/camera controls) and switches among them throughout play. Young kids may struggle to use the light pointer during sequences where the camera is moving on-screen. For kids playing the main story line, there's no end point where they're asked if they want to continue. They just keep playing until they press the home button. This makes it challenging to set a stopping point for play, and younger kids may not even understand how to make it stop. Loading times seem slow, taking up to 25 or 30 seconds on occasion. A multiplayer version of one of the games is available, allowing for parents to step in as helpers or for sibling/friend play.
What's it about?
In LEAPFROG LEAPTV: LETTER FACTORY ADVENTURES, Tad and Lily meet up with Professor Quigley in Grand Central Letter Station. None of the letters is where it belongs, so Quigley asks Tad and Lily (and the player) to set out on the Railway to identify the letters and bring them back. The main game consists of 26 letter-focused levels, completed in order, and kids take part in a few mini-games. The first mini-game involves riding on the Railway, a roller coaster-style ride, pointing at letters and special objects with their controllers. There are three stops along the way that involve body/motion-based games, so kids will be asked to put down their controllers at each of these locations. There are a few other activities available from the main menu. Kids can view their badges, look through the Alphabet Book (with their pictures in it), or watch a letter song video that also highlights their pictures. They also can opt for a multiplayer game, which has only the Railway portion of the main game (pointing at letters and objects but no movement games).
Is it any good?
Despite some potential controller challenges, this is a creative and engaging way to introduce letter sounds and shapes to preschoolers. There's quite a bit of repetition, as each of the 26 levels is similar, but the mini-games at each stop are fun enough that most young kids won't mind. At stop 1, kids reach out with their hands to tap the letters that match the level. Stop 2 involves getting their bodies into a position that looks like the letter for the level. The game takes their picture and adds it to the Alphabet Book. The third stop is a bubble-popping game that helps kids recognize letter sounds as they pop on-screen bubbles. Once they've completed the whole level, they have a final challenge: They'll have to find the letter whose sound matches a picture shown (for example, N for "net").
The use of kids' pictures is a nice addition, and kids will be delighted to see their pictures appear in the Alphabet Song video. Though some kids will struggle with the pointer action in single-player, the multiplayer mode uses the stick and parents also can step in to help out with tricky letters and objects. Letter Factory Adventures is a wonderful early look at letters and letter sounds for kids, and it does a fantastic job of reinforcing the learning using body movements (both drawing the letters and making the shapes with their bodies).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about letter shapes. What makes each shape interesting? How can you best practice your letters?
Talk about letter sounds. Can you find items around you that start with different letter sounds? Maybe you can play a game such as I Spy ("I spy something that starts with the letter B") to make it more fun.
- Platforms: LeapFrog games
- Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, phonics
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: LeapFrog
- Release date: August 1, 2015
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Adventures, Numbers and Letters, Trains
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.