Expert Review: LeapBuilders Elephant Adventures
Let’s build! Let’s create! Let’s learn! This little elephant has a big bag of peanuts…. err, tricks up his trunk, as Practical Parenting Reviews Editor, Franki Hobson, and her toddler, Louis, discovered.
By Franki Hobson
Practical Parenting Reviews Editor / October 16 2018
Turns out this clever elephant can also predict a child’s personality. OK that is not true, but it did tell me a lot about my toddler’s personality! You see, there’s a big white elephant that sits in the corner of our family room. And that is the fact that little Louis has straight blonde hair and hazel eyes – just like his Daddy. There is not even a freckle of a resemblance to his brown eyed mummy with dark brown curls. Nuttin’. Nada. Zippo.
So, mummy is determined to get a look in somehow, and she’s putting all her ostrich eggs in the personality basket - Mummy is a talker, a doer, a creative… Mummy loves learning about new things. And mummy is very determined.
But is little Louis?
The LeapFrog LeapBuilders Elephant Adventures, $34.95, is the perfect toy to find out.
This little blue elephant provides a lot more than just fun – it’s a learning toy that talks! And in fact, it responds with over 115 phrases, sounds and songs whenever one of the double-sided blocks is inserted into the interactive SmartStar Unit. And, lo and behold, Louis said his first action word, covering his eyes to reveal his face with a big “BOO!”
Did I mention this clever elephant is a learning toy? Oh yes, I did (no one ever accused me of having a memory like an elephant!). Learning is my passion. It keeps me motivated, inspired, creative… But I’m a rubbish teacher. As much as I’d love to teach little Louis to talk, read, speak elephant, as a busy working mum, I just have to get other stuff done too, like shower, and washing, and dinner! This clever elephant, on the other is a genius and engaging teacher. Louis learns about fruits, numbers, colours and insects every time he (with a little help from his big brother) slots a building block into the SmartStar Unit.
‘Doing’ and’ creating’ go hand in hand. And can I tell you, it makes my heart melt when I watch Louis attempting to build this 21-piece elephant set (although to some it may appear he is destroying my fine building work!). He is learning to stack the blocks on top of each other and take them apart. Louis mimics his big brother, Maxwell, 9, observing him, then copying him, playing together and taking turns. As a parenting editor for more than 20 years, I know the value of unstructured play, guidance and help to show them ‘how to play’ (it’s a learned skill, you know!) and nurturing creativity. Louis is learning to use his gross and fine motor skills to pick-up the blocks, assemble them and then disassemble them. This toy comes up trunks in all developmental categories.
Let's do it!
Determination is a tough skill to teach. But the LeapFrog LeapBuilders excels in encouraging little ones to persevere and stay focused on the task. Of course a toddler’s attention and concentration is pretty short, but I was blown away by how interested Louis is in this toy – building, pressing the buttons and listening to the elephant’s responses, pulling its head off and trying to put it back on. Determination – tick!
Louis loved the elephant’s sounds, construction, songs, flashing lights and buttons. When the kids are finished building and creating, they can move to the advanced level – following the elephant’s instructions (on building cards which are included) to build a shop or combine with other LeapFrog block toys to learn and build in different ways. Louis also has LeapBuilders Wild Animals and LeapBuilders Fix-It Truck, with compatible blocks. We gradually introduced the new sets so we didn’t overwhelm him with too many blocks and toys at once.
Well, Louis clearly takes after his mum! This gorgeous little learning elephant excels in every field – learning, building and construction, fostering unstructured creative play and cause and effect. Those little digits will benefit wildly from the fine motor skill development, as Louis practices stacking, assembling, building, constructing and disassembling. There’s ample room for mum (and siblings) to group play, showing youngsters other ways to use the blocks, role play, creative play, use their imagination and for parents to further utilise the elephant’s learning functions by highlighting the blocks numbers, colours, actions, or repeating the words.