Children need educational toys to get a running start in their education, and the LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket was designed with this in mind. But does that mean it’s not fun? We’ve spent some time with it in order to find out, and the answer to this question as well as many more can be found below.
6 months – 3 years
music and sound effects
We should start with the basics – The LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket is meant for kids aged 6 months to 3 years and is designed to help them learn about shapes, colors, and food groups, as well as entertain with some music and sound effects. It contains 14 pieces in total and comes in pink and purple. LeapFrog also provides online resources to aid parents in helping their children learn.
Now, let’s get to the actual experience of owning and playing with this toy. As mentioned, its primary focus is to promote learning through play, and we often come across gadgets that fall short on the ‘play’ end of the spectrum. In other words, they focus too hard on the learning aspect and end up being less than entertaining, to say the least. This toy, however, manages to do both with excellent success.
First of all, it is very brightly colored and skillfully designed in terms of appearance. The lovely color palette and friendly ‘face’ will likely draw your toddler to play with it since it has been proven that color plays a major role in what holds a child’s attention in that stage of their development. So the basket itself looks excellent, but the quality of the design doesn’t end there – the pieces within are very kid-friendly and robust with a nice hefty feel to them. So far, so good.
When it comes to the educational value of the toy, it mostly relies on the talking functionalities of the basket. It contains a number of songs and phrases, spoken and sung in a voice that surprisingly isn’t as annoying as you might expect, even when it keeps repeating the same phrases over and over.
The voice will help your kid learn a variety of things, starting with simple things like manners and saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’ It also teaches about colors and shapes by singing a rainbow-themed song and asking your child to find a food item of a specific shape, respectively. But the vocabulary development potential doesn’t end there, since your kid will also learn more about prepositions, such as ‘in’ and ‘on’ by responding to specific requests made by the basket.
The pieces of food contained in the package all have one of the three basic shapes, namely square, circle and triangle, and they fit neatly into their respective slots on the plates. Aside from the aforementioned benefit of practicing shapes, this gives your child the opportunity to develop their motor skills and pattern recognition.
All of the pieces contained in this set are made of durable hard plastic, making them safe to use and play with for a long time. Also, they are perfectly sized, not too big for toddler’s hands, yet big enough to avoid being any kind of choking hazard. Some of the smaller pieces may be able to fit into an older child’s mouth, but that would require lots of effort on the child’s part, and even then, they couldn’t possibly be able to swallow the pieces whole.
This gives most parents peace of mind since they can leave their child unattended with the toy without having to worry about the kid’s safety. If you’re still not convinced, keep an eye on your child as they play, or just remove the pieces, you deem most risky before focusing your attention elsewhere.
Another advantage of the size and robustness of the pieces is that kids also seem to have more fun with toys they can get a firm grip of, as well as ones that have some weight to them, allowing the child to develop their kinesthetic abilities.
The only piece of criticism we can level at this toy, although a minor one, is that there’s no real way for the basket to ‘know’ whether your child completed the challenges set before them by the voice in the toy. This means the basket isn’t actually able to praise your child if they do something correctly, so if you want the best results, it’s probably a good idea to join in and do that part yourself.
The bottom line is that this is a high-quality product and a toy that will last your child a long time. It’s easy to use, durable, very portable and easy to pack, as well as safe. It also contains multitudes of potential benefits concerning your child’s cognitive and kinesthetic development.