For the past few weeks the boys have been trying out the LeapFrog LeapPad 3, and they are loving it. It appeals to all of them, age 3, 4 and 6 and is a definite improvement from other kids tablets we’ve tried in the past.
The LeapPad 3 comes in a choice of the traditional LeapFrog green (which we have) or pink, and is just a little smaller than a 7″ tablet. The new LeapPad 3 is wifi enabled and also charges so you never need to think about having to change batteries. This is a huge plus for me, as I hate having to change batteries in children’s tablets when they run out so quickly but the LeapPad 3 can just be charged alongside our own tablets and phones. The battery will last for around 7 hours play which is plenty, as this would last well enough for long journeys.
Being wifi enabled is a new feature for the LeapPad 3 but this has been really carefully thought out so that children can only access a pre-approved library of content through the search feature. This allows them to watch videos, but you don’t need to worry about them coming across anything inappropriate. Even when browsing child friendly search terms on Youtube on our phone or laptop, I do notice inappropriate videos that I have to guide them children away from watching – like fan-made Thomas & Friends cartoons where people have made the characters swear!!
The LeapPad also comes with some included apps, and there is a library of over 1000 apps available to download (or buy as a cartridge). The boys all love the Pet Pad Party app which came included with the LeapPad 3, it has 3 games (dinnertime, washing the pet and pet glider) and gives the chance to decorate the pets home with furniture. Mr Z recognised that these are the same type of pets that he plays with on his LeapBand but the games are different.
They also enjoyed using the camera to take pictures of themselves and their toys. You can choose one paid app to download for free with your new LeapPad 3 and the app store will guide you about which apps would be suitable for your child’s age and educational stage. We went for a maths app for reception age for Mr T who’s just getting settled into reception. We also bought a couple more apps for the children to share. They went for apps based on some of their favourite characters, Turbo for Mr Z and Team Umizoomi for Mr R and Mr T. Even though these are character based fun apps they still manage to include educational elements throughout which is great to see. For example Mr Z’s Turbo racing game teaches about mass, grip and speed.
To download the apps you may need to connect the LeapFrog connect app on your laptop and transfer them across. There is an app store within the LeapPad 3 (accessible after activating wifi in the parents settings) but to actually get them onto the device, we did need to connect it up by wire and transfer from the LeapFrog connect. This is more time consuming than downloading apps on a normal tablet, but then it does ensure you have more control and children won’t be able to download any apps by themselves without parents knowledge.
The other major difference with the apps on the LeapPad is that they are much more expensive than many of the children’s apps you would buy on an iPad. The apps we chose were around £7.50 each (although you can find apps from around £5-20 depending which ones you go for.) It’s best to think of it as quality over quantity though as you can choose a few great quality educational apps on the LeapPad rather than overloading on lots and lots of cheap apps on an adults tablet. Even though the amount of games on our LeapPad 3 is fairly limited at the moment the boys still love it and often ask to play with it, and I’m sure we will gradually keep adding more over time. If you download an app you can load it onto 3 LeapFrog devices, if you had a LeapPad per child for example, which is great. You get 4GB memory and you can also buy apps on cartridges if you want to save space rather than downloading.
The other feature I love about the LeapPad 3 is that it’s very child-proof. You have no need to add an extra case as it’s already pretty rugged and ours has already survived being dropped by one of the children, with no ill effects. It’s very sturdy and hopefully should last really well. We had a couple of cheap android tablets for the kids in the past but they never lasted very long so this seems like it will be a much better option.
The LeapPad 3 is a touch screen tablet but also comes with a soft tipped stylus that children can use to navigate the screen, to help prevent smudging the screen or to make navigation easier for some children. This tucks away very neatly in the back of the tablet when not in use.
The LeapPad 3 is currently available for £70 on Amazon (affiliate) which seems really reasonable for a tablet like this. I can see our LeapPad 3 continuing to get lots of use from all the boys and remaining a favourite for quite some time. You can have multiple logins so we’ve found it fine to have all the siblings sharing the one tablet, and they know to log in on their own name as Mr Z, or Mr T.
I would recommend this for any children aged around 3-6, similar ages to my boys.