How many parents have to fend off their children as they ask to play with their blackberries or other PDA devices?  Children just love the allure of these electronic gadgets, and they don’t want to be told that they’re not toys.  The solution, of course, is to get them a cute little PDA type device that actually is a toy.  That’s where the LeapFrog Text And Learn comes into the picture.  This adorable little device resembles an adult’s Blackberry phone in how it’s shaped and with its full QWERTY keyboard.  It’s a little larger than standard Blackberry phones or other PDA devices so that it will be easy for small hands to manipulate, but otherwise it provides a similar feel and experience that young children are sure to appreciate.

The Text And Learn provides several activities to keep children busy playing and learning on this nifty little device.  All PDA devices must have a calendar app, and the Text And Learn is no exception.  Children learn the days of the week as they select a day and interact with Scout, the on screen puppy character who guides them through playing on the system.  When they select a day, Scout lets them know what he has on his calendar for that day, so in addition to learning about the days children are also taught about planning for the future.

There’s also a letter learning feature built in to the Text And Learn.  When using this feature, children can press a letter and hear that letter read back to them, as well as learn what kind of sound it makes and what words start with the letter.  A little animation on the screen will hold a child’s attention as he or she learns about each of the letters.

In order to practice the letter learning skills that they practiced with the letter application, there’s also a letter learning game where Scout is taking a bubble bath.  Bubbles keep floating out of the tub, and it’s up to the child to pop each bubble.  The trick is that inside each bubble is a letter, and they have to pop each bubble by pressing the letter that’s inside of the bubble.  This will help children to reinforce their alphabet skills and give them more practice in using a standard QWERTY keyboard.

There’s also a shape game where the child has to guide Scout, who’s lost, to find a particular shape such as a diamond or circle.  This reinforces shape recognition, and children generally find it to be a very fun game.  Scout can also send the child a generic text message, and the device can be put into music mode where it plays songs as scout dances along on screen.

This nifty little gadget is a great gift for young minds just learning about and exploring their world.  At around $ 20, it’s a wonderful gift at a price that’s certain not to break the bank.  Children will love playing with their own Blackberry style device, and parents will appreciate that their children won’t be bugging them for theirs anymore.  And everybody will be happy with the way the Text And Learn provides a lot of fun and educational play time.

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