Teaching My Baby To Read

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Just say no to busy work!

Don't buy this at Costco!

Don’t buy this at Costco!

I had very low expectations for this latest Leap Frog purchase and I wasn’t disappointed.

Leap Frog’s Complete Kindergarten Learning Kit (Math, Printing, Language Building, Early Reading) (Grade K) was selling for $20 at Costco. (It’s $89 on Amazon!!!)

I didn’t want to buy it but my preschooler made me.

Okay, that’s not totally true. I was curious. The former Kindergarten teacher in me was begging to see what was in that box.

Save yourself $20 and just look at my picture:


Nothing in this box is bad exactly, it’s just that I don’t believe workbooks and flashcards are the answer.

Sometimes you’ll get kids like my daughter who “want” to do workbooks. Okay, fine. Whatever. We can get out the Leap Frog workbooks for fun.

But edutainment is different than education.

There are a hundred more meaningful things you could do with your emergent reader that would be more meaningful. Here’s roadmap of examples.

With flashcards, if you are going to use them selectively (as I sometimes do), they shouldn’t be confusing. Take a look at this:

Sooooo many numbers and soooooo confusing!

Sooooo many numbers and soooooo confusing!

That's a little bit better.

That’s a little bit better.

One thing the kit came with that I thought was pretty good were these dot cards:

These are awesome, but you could make them yourself for free.

These are awesome, but you could make them at home for free.

Here are some fun ideas for preschool math.

Final thoughts? Maybe the next time you are at Costco, you can save $20!

P.S. Leap Frog does have four products that I highly recommend:

LeapFrog: Letter Factory

LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory

LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory
LeapFrog: Word Caper

Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder

Sadly all of the other Leap Frog products I have purchased haven’t been as good.

Make Your Own Talking Words Factory

Calling Professor Quigley to the factory floor. Mr. Webster is on his way!

Today Jenna(2.5) said to me “I can’t go to the Talking Words Factory tonight because I’m going to Daddy Preschool”. It was a spontaneous bit of imagining on her part, but gave me the idea of actually building a pretend Taking Words Factory ala Leap Frog. So we set up the tunnels, got out every single letter toy we own (I’m very acquisitive of phonics products), and I blew up some copies of the DVD pictures on our printer. Voila!

Here’s our Talking Words Factory with the Word Whammer ready to go.

Here’s our Letter Factory complete with ABC cards and blocks.

We had fun crawling around our forts, sounding out letters, and attempting to blend words. I say attempting, because even though Jenna has known all of her letters and sounds for quite some time, she is still not quite ready for sounding out C-V-C words yet. But this was a really fun way to practice.

Don’t Waste your Money on this one…

I was so excited to see that our local Costco was currently carrying Leap Frog DVDs, because this doesn’t happen often.  We already own “The Letter Factory” and “The Talking Words Factory”, but we had never seen this one, “The Amazing Alphabet” before.  Oh my gosh, what a disappointment.  Please don’t waste your money on this one!  This definitely goes into the category of “edutainment”, meaning that there is too much cartoon and not enough learning.  (On a side note, the music from this video sounds a little bit like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.)

I also picked up “Code Word Capers” at Costco, which we had previously just borrowed from the library when Bruce was little. Jenna isn’t ready for “Code Word Capers” yet, but she hopefully will be by fall. I used it with Bruce and he still remembers it fondly. These are the Leap Frog videos that I think are worthwhile purchasing.  At Costco they are selling for just under $7 each.

Old-School Leap Pad


I dug up Bruce’s old LeapPad for Jenna this morning, to see what would happen.  I had bought the whole system, three boxes and the LeapPad, for $30 at a Fred Meyer several years ago.  I couldn’t find an identical package online, but I think it is similar to this:

It’s interesting because it has all of the characters as the Letter Factory and Talking Words Factory videos.  There’s Leap, Lilly, Professor Quiggley, and the Word Bammer.  They must have been meant to be used together.

It’s hard to tell how effective all of this will be with Jenna, who is currently 23 months old.  We were having a really special moment together when I got it all out, but then Bruce came in with his walkie talkies and caused a bit of a distraction.  I had to have a stern talk with him about not interrupting his sister’s learning time.  So, I’ll try again tomorrow when Jenna’s ready to pay attention again.