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My son Josh is nearly five and he is a little bit slow for his age, so I decided to look for an educational toy which would be fun and educational for him to play with. I was browsing through the Argos catalogue and spotted a VTech Challenger Laptop which is aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 7. The VTech Laptop wasn't expensive it only cost £24.99; I thought this was great value for money because it would help my son to learn numerical and language skills whilst having fun at the same time.
The Challenger Laptop has a similar shape and design as a normal laptop, the only difference is that it has a smaller screen which is black and white. The laptop is powered using three AA batteries which are supplied and fitted inside the laptop when you purchase it. You also have the option to buy an AC adaptor for the laptop which will save a fortune on batteries. We bought a VTech AC adaptor from EBay and it only cost us £5, the reason we decided to buy the adaptor for the laptop was because it states in the VTech instruction manual that you shouldn't use rechargeable batteries for the laptop as this could damage it.
Supplied with the laptop is a mouse mat and a mouse, which plugs into the mouse jack on the back of the laptop. This makes the laptop more appealing for my son as he loves going on my laptop so as he can play the games on the CBeebies website. Now he has his own laptop which is fun for him to play with and also learns educational skills at an easy pace.
On the laptop there are a wide range of activities for your child to choose from and each activity has different levels which can be selected by pressing the Level selection button. Once your child gets used to the laptop you can just press the level button on each activity so as the activity gets a little harder for them. There are three levels to choose from: Level one is quite easy, Level two is a little harder and Level three is the highest and hardest level for your child to play.
Activity 1 ~ Earful of Numbers On this activity your child will learn how to say numbers in French. The level starts with a few discs which have numbers from 1 to 10 printed onto them, your child then clicks on one of the discs using the cursor pad or the mouse so as they can hear the French pronunciation of the number which they then repeat. This activity is one which Josh isn't interested in learning at the moment although as he gets a little older i'm sure that he will like it.
Activity 2 ~ Number Votes Again this activity is learning French numbers and is a little different to activity one. In this activity you have to select the correct number e.g. a French number appears on the top of the LCD screen (e.g. deux), below this there will be two numbers printed and your child has to select the correct number, in this case the number they would select would be 2.
Activity 3 ~ Picture Fun This is another French activity which learns your child French words. You have to select an English word from a list and click on it so as you can see a picture of it and hear it getting pronounced in French.
Activity 4 ~ Word Train This is one of my son's favourite activities on the laptop because it involves a train. Your child has to read the French word at the top of the screen and then watch the moving train at the bottom of the screen and pick the picture which corresponds with the word. This activity is a little too advanced for Josh at the moment but he still likes playing it because it has a train.
Activity 5 ~ Letter Jump Letter jump is another French activity in which you are shown part of a French word, your child then has to select the missing letter using the mouse in order to complete the French word.
Activity 6 ~ Mouse Snack Mouse snack is fairly similar to activity five because your child has to select the missing letter in order to complete the French word.
Activity 7 ~ Chat Room This activity teaches your child how to pronounce French greetings. Your child has to select a picture so as they can hear the greeting pronounced in French.
Activity 8 ~ Talk Show In this activity your child has to listen to a French word or phrase and then match it with the picture of the word they have just heard pronounced.
Language Lab is probably a little bit too difficult for Josh at the moment and would probably be best suited to children nearer the age of six. It is still a good way of learning youngster's basic French numbers and phrases though.
Activity 9 ~ Alphabet Apple Alphabet apple teaches your child how to type. On the screen apples which have letters printed inside them fall from the screen and your child has to type in the corresponding letter.
Activity 10 ~ Letter Discs There are three discs in this activity and below the discs are three letters. Your child has to select a disc to hear its letter and then match it to the letter below using the mouse.
Activity 11 ~ Alphabet Fishing My son loves this game, basically you have fish swimming along the bottom of the screen and inside the fishes body there is a latter printed, your child has then to type in the letters in alphabetical order in order to advance to the next round
Activity 12 ~ Letter Match This activity is fairly basic; all your child has to do is match the small letter with its matching capital letter.
Activity 13 ~ Letter Bubbles In this activity your child will be shown a letter sequence on the bottom of the LCD screen, the sequence has a letter missing and your child will have to select the correct one from the bubbles which are floating above the sequence in order to advance through to the next round.
Activity 14 ~ Typing Fun This activity is just as the name suggests: your child has to type the letters which are shown on the screen using the keyboard.
Activity 15 ~ Animal Votes This activity is just like the number votes activity except it focuses on numbers. Your child is shown part of an animal word and has to select the missing letter from a choice of four.
Activity 16 ~ Mouse's Lunch This activity is similar to Animal votes except the missing letter is printed inside a block of cheese. To input the missing letter your child has to type it on they keyboard.
Activity 17 ~ Odd One Out In this activity you have to select the odd word out funnily enough. You will be shown a sequence of three words e.g. cat, dog, house and your child has to select the odd one out. In this case the odd one out would be a house as the other two are animals.
Activity 18 ~ Part and Whole In this activity your child has to match part of a word with the whole word. This activity is another boring one which doesn't really appeal to Josh at the moment.
In the word Zone section there are a few activities which Josh really likes playing. I have noticed a little bit of improvement in his spelling and pronunciation of words since he has completed some of the activities in this category.
Activity 19 ~ Number Star Number Star is just like a matching game, there will be numbered stars shown on the screen and your child has to type a number which matches the star in order for it to be removed from the screen.
Activity 20 ~ Fire Fly Count This activity is more of a fun one rather than an educational one. Your child has to catch the flying fireflies using the mouse or cursor keys before the time runs out. Josh really likes this activity, when the time runs out, If he catches 10 fireflies then I make him count to ten so as it makes it more educational for him.
Activity 21 ~ Kick One Out This activity is a number activity in which your child has to identify the missing number. There will be a sequence of numbers shown on the bottom of the screen and your child has to pick the missing number from a choice of two in order to advance to the next sequence.
Activity 22 ~ Number See Saw Basically all your child has to do in this activity is make the seesaw balance by having the same amount of objects on either side of it. This one is fairly easy to play and Josh really likes it too.
Activity 23 ~ Maths Votes This is another activity which is fairly similar to animal votes; in this activity you have to select the missing number in order to complete the number sequence and advance to the next round.
Activity 24 ~ Mouse's Dinner In this activity you have to select the highest or lowest number as instructed. This is a good activity for learning your child the difference in numbers.
Activity 25 ~ Shopping Spree In this activity your child will have to select an object and then pay for the object by clicking on coins which add up to the price of the object they selected.
Activity 26 ~ Subtract it As the name of the activity suggests this involves subtracting numbers. Your child has to click on the correct number to complete the subtraction sum.
Activity 27 ~ Tick-Tock Time This activity learns your child how to tell the time. Your child has to select the correct clock which matches the time they were shown on the screen.
Maths mania is really helping Josh with his numbers; since he has got the laptop I have noticed a huge improvement in his numerical skills and abilities.
Activity 28 ~ Show Time Activity 29 ~ Costume Ball Activity 30 ~ Hide And Seek Activity 31 ~Animal Shadows Activity 32 ~ Carrot Patch
Game time is a section on the laptop which has five fun games for your child to play, the games on this section aren't exactly educational but they are really fun and enjoyable for children to play with. The game section also gives children a break from learning so as the laptop isn't as boring and educational for them. I think that this is a great little section which VTech have added to the laptop and the little selection of games are quite good.
Activity 33 ~ Stamp Factory This is a fun activity in which your child has a number of different stamps to choose from, they then select the stamps and make a picture using them.Activity 34 ~Party Face In party face your child makes different peoples faces selecting different ears, noses, lips, ears and hair styles.
Activity 35 ~ Concert Master This activity is just like a musical concert on the Laptop, your child can choose from nine different songs to listen to and then whilst they are listening to them they can change the musical instrument so as it sounds a little different.
Activity 36 ~ Melody Maker In melody Maker your child used the keyboard to compose and listen to their own song. Josh really likes this one and he makes up his own words to go along with the songs he has composed.
Just like the Game Time section this is another fun aspect of the laptop which your child will have fun playing with and exploring.
Activity 37 ~ About Me About Me is a section on the laptop where you type in your Childs details, such as their name, address, phone number etc. I think that this makes the laptop more personal for your child as you can customise it and input their own details onto it.Activity 38 ~ My Favourites In my favourites your child can select the pictures of their favourite food, animals, toys etc.
Activity 39 & 40 ~ Parents Message / Matchbook This is a section on the laptop which is especially for parents. You can type on a message for your child so as they can read it when they next turn on their laptop. I think it's a bit like an email service on the VTech for Josh lol.
I think that the VTech Laptop is probably the best £25 iv spent on a toy for Josh, because he loves playing with it. It is learning him new skills which will help him with his education ad at the same time its also fun for him to play with because of the wide range of activities and games which the laptop has to offer. I can honestly say that I have noticed a huge improvement in his numerical, language and speech skills since he has started using his laptop. I am confident that the more he plays with his laptop the more he will learn and progress with his educational skills. Thanks for reading Lisa :o)x
Fantastic review! Everything covered there. It's an E from me :-) Electra.
denella 22.01.2008 08:17
Very comprehensive review. I particularly like the sound of the Language Lab - I teach French to young children, and it is so hard to find good resources to encourage them. (Sorry that it has taken me 4 days to discover this excellent review!)
lozzy_lou178 21.01.2008 21:30
Great detailed review, sounds like good fun! and a good price too!