A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an excellent way to introduce preschoolers to the alphabet because kids learn by playing games with each of the letters. The software also teaches them how to draw each letter and then has them practice by drawing on the touch-sensitive screen. This software utilizes the L-Max's unique ability to create a dual screen when plugged into a TV -- the display on the handheld screen is different from what kids see on the TV screen.
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What's it about?
LETTERS ON THE LOOSE, one of the first titles for the Leapster L-Max, is a good fit for kids who are just learning the alphabet. Each letter appears in the software as an animated character; by playing 26 games, kids learn to identify each letter, its sound, and how to draw it. Kids help Professor Quigley round up the 26 letters of the alphabet so that he can create a talking ABC book. Kids persuade the maverick letters to join the book by playing games with them.
For example, before the letter N will become part of the book, it needs help finding little Ns that are hiding in some pipes. Kids use the L-Max's arrow pad to move an onscreen magnifying glass over the pipes to find the hidden Ns. Once a letter is added to the book, Professor Quigley sings a song about the letter's sound and shows kids how to draw the letter. Using the L-Max's touch-sensitive screen, children trace a dotted path to draw the letter, and that hand-drawn letter then becomes part of the ABC book.
Is it any good?
Kids will discover additional material when connecting the L-Max unit to a television, including Professor Quigley's tutorials and a bonus game involving upper and lowercase letters. A minor complaint about the television gameplay is that kids must click a button on the side of the L-Max pen to make the pen's actions on the touch-sensitive handheld screen show up on the TV screen.
Letters on the Loose cleverly engages kids in learning the alphabet by having them play with charming letter friends. Drawing letters using the touch-sensitive screen further reinforces the alphabet recognition and instills pride when those hand-drawn letters show up on the television for others to see.
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