As veritable little masters of the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach, kids use imitation not only to learn things about the world but also to have fun. Indeed, what better way to understand why and how someone is doing something than to do it yourself?
6 to 36 months
Interactable parts: 1
Entertainment, visual and auditory stimulation which aids the development of cognitive skills, expanding the child’s vocabulary, development of fine motor skills
This is exactly what VTech Turn and Learn Driver provides – a way for your kid to work on cognitive and motor skills by emulating mommy or daddy and having a whale of a time in the process.
While primarily intended for floor play, Turn and Learn Driver can act as a great portable toy to amuse your child on short rides or strolls. Even though the steering wheel is the most prominent feature, the toy has a lot more to offer.
Practically every interaction with any of the toy’s elements causes something to be played – amusing sounds, interesting phrases, names of objects or colors, or lively, memorable tunes usually reserved for various musical toys. If this sounds as annoying to parents as it is amusing to children, don’t worry, there’s a volume switch that should help you find the perfect compromise.
While older children may at one point start to differ in the amount of enthusiasm they have for cars and driving, at this age they are mostly interested in sounds and lights and don’t pay too much attention to the actual context. In other words, this wouldn’t just be a great gift for a two-year-old boy but would bring just as much joy to a two-year-old girl.
Since the toy is intended for younger children its educational potential is mainly focused on developing the more basic skills and understanding. This includes differentiating left from right, understanding the concept of the opposites, and even learning to sit up, as some reviewers have reported.
The manufacturer lists the product’s dimensions as 10.8 x 4.4 x 8.9 inches and places its weight at 1.45 pounds. This makes it small enough for even younger children to be able to hold in their lap, which greatly increases the number of ways and locations in which the toy can be used.
A large, red steering wheel dominates the toy and sports a bright green horn button at its center. To the right of the wheel, you can find the volume adjuster, which also effectively serves as the On/Off button and is made to resemble the ignition switch.
The gear shifter is located to the right of the wheel, with a three-color traffic light just above it. Moving the shifter in either direction (up or down) results in the toy playing interesting sounds or phrases, and the traffic light flashing.
The left-hand side of the toy is occupied by a signal lever, interacting with which has similar effects to moving the shifter up or down; and what’s more important, this is where you can find the mode selector button, which allows you to get as much from the toy as possible, but more on that in the next section. Above the selector, you’ll find an adjustable rear-view mirror.
Finally, above the wheel, you’ll see five buttons, the function of which will depend on the mode you have selected. As the kid turns right and left, a cute doggy will move along with the wheel, pointing at the buttons above.
While the toy does come with 2 AA batteries, they are provided for demo purposes and might need to be replaced for optimal performance.
In order to make the toy responsive, first you need to move the ignition switch from the Off position to either low or high volume setting. After doing so, you need to choose one of the three available modes – Animal, Driving or Music mode. This selection will influence the behavior of just about any interactable element of the toy.
The numbered buttons above the wheel are a perfect example to illustrate how different modes operate. For instance, the first button from the left shows a school bus being driven by a chicken, all placed against a yellow background. Pressing the button in the Animal mode would make the toy pronounce the name of the color and the animal; in Driving mode the name of the vehicle in question, and in music mode, the number written on the button.
Depending on the mode and the element they interact with – wheel, gear shifter, signal lever or horn, VTech Turn and Learn Driver toy will surprise your child with a nice sing-along tune, an interesting phrase or term, different vehicle or animal-related sounds, flashing lights, etc.
As there is no way to secure the toy to the surface below, the manufacturer recommends it for floor play, but many reviewers have found it to be much more versatile than that. For instance, just because there is no way to attach the toy to the car seat, that doesn’t mean that a child cannot use it that way, as long as they are old enough to hold the toy in their lap. The same goes for strollers, highchairs and other places that your child spends most of their time in.
If your kid only shows bursts of interest in the toy, you don’t have to worry about the batteries getting depleted too fast, as the auto-shutdown feature will turn the toy off after approximately 50 seconds of inactivity.
While an adult might have a difficult time understanding how this toy can be educational in any way aside from helping a child learn the names of different animals, vehicles, etc. it’s important to remember that their developing minds are still craving the more basic types of sensory stimulation and can benefit greatly even from simpler activities. They are learning about notions like left and right, working on color recognition, improving their ability to focus and so on. As we already mentioned, some reviewers have even noticed that the toy has helped their little one learn how to sit up.
Since it is made for younger children, who may still have occasional tantrums and are not too concerned with proper toy maintenance, Turn and Learn Driver has been robustly made to endure any kind of pounding that my be heading its way, as well as to preserve battery life for as long as possible.
With more than 60 sounds, songs and phrases, the toy can keep the child’s interest for quite some time, especially when you take the three different modes into account.
While it is, of course, impossible to please everyone, VTech Turn and Learn Driver comes very close to this ideal, at least if online reviews are to be trusted. However, some people did have two minor objections.
The first, and more commonly encountered one is that the manufacturer didn’t provide a way for people to attach the toy to car seats, highchairs, strollers or other surfaces. As we already mentioned, if the child is old enough to hold the toy in their lap, this shouldn’t be a problem, but even if they are not, there are a couple of possible workarounds for this issue. For instance, some parents applied silicone strips to the bottom of the toy, to prevent it from slipping on smooth surfaces, while others bought suction cups separately and installed them themselves.
The second objection seems to be of a much more subjective nature. Namely, despite the fact that you can use the toy in two different volume settings – three if you count the silent, power off mode, some people have found that even this doesn’t allow for adequate volume control. However, the number of people complaining that even the lower volume setting is still too loud is not nearly large enough to cause any real concern, as it’s perfectly possible that you won’t share their sensitivity.
It may be a while before you little one gets to sit behind an actual steering wheel and experience the thrill of driving, but there’s no reason not to give them a little preview of the excitement that awaits them.
With different modes, plenty of interactable parts and varied songs, phrases and sounds, the toy will provide your kid with hours of fun, aiding their development along the way.