A hand-held game player
for a preschooler? Some parents cringe at the
thought. Others have no qualms about this sort of
electronic babysittingand they're even
happier that there's now an educational model.
The LeapFrog Leapster ($80) uses video-game
style to teach preschoolers through second graders
reading, adding, spelling, and other schoolhouse
activities, as they use a stylus and control pad to
master the various scholarly pursuits.
You'll be amazed how longand how
quietly!your otherwise hyperactive youngsters will
sit stilland how much they'll love the
"rewards" for right answers (for example,
chirping cartoon birds that eat the seeds earned
while playing). Good luck wresting this toy away
when it's time for the other necessities of
lifeplaying outdoors, reading books, and
interacting with real, live human beings.
Leapster is nearly twice as heavy as
and quite a bit bulkier than a Game Boy. And the
perky music can grate on parental nerves. But you
can turn the sound down or plug in a headset.
With all the long car and plane
rides coming up during the holidays, Leapster should
be the one gift the kids are allowed to open early. Janet Rae-Dupree