Leap Frog has grown as a company, releasing more and more great educational kids toys. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a number of these educational products. With the recent launch of the LeapFrog Magic Adventures telescope, I was excited to see what was next from LeapFrog. Would this product be as educational for my kids as the last? Has LeapFrog managed to maintain educational qualities, while also providing fun opportunities for kids? Let’s take a look.

Unboxing the LeapFrog Magic Adventures telescope

The past few LeapFrog items I’ve tested have been ready to use out of the box. With the exception of putting batteries in, none of them have included build instructions. Putting this telescope set together was not overly difficult. I would say that a young child wouldn’t be able to do it, but my nine year old almost exclusively put this together himself.

Everything was nicely labeled and bagged, and the instructions included in the box—both on a foldout card and the instruction manual—were easy enough to follow. The entire build process took only a few minutes. The only packing thing that I had an issue with was that the telescope lens was not covered inside the box. A cover is included, but it’s bagged up with other parts. It would have been nice to see that cover actually covering the telescope lens.

I was pleasantly surprised with the build quality of telescope itself. When I dumped all these plastic pieces out of the box, I was a little concerned about how this would hold up. After using it for a few weeks, I am very happy with how sturdy it really is. The decision to use an all plastic build makes the telescope very portable, and easy for even the youngest kids to move it from A to B. I could, however, see the plastic scuffing up fairly quickly.

Features of the LeapFrog Magic Adventures telescope

Once you get the telescope assembled, the device walks you through everything it can do. As an adult I found waiting for the short tutorial to finish frustrating but my kids were very attentive and paying close attention to how the entire telescope operated. It is impressive to me that the entire catalogue of experiences built into the product can be explained in just a few minutes. This really is built for kids! Here’s a quick look at each mode.

  • Telescope Mode: In Telescope Mode, kids will be able to use the telescope, well, as a telescope. Point it into the sky or towards trees far away and begin focusing the lens to take great shots. 
  • Explore Mode: In Explore Mode, kids can choose from six categories of images and videos produced by NASA. They can learn all about the sun, moons, planets, and more through interactive pictures and videos.
  • Robot Reboot! Adventure Game: In this game, kids can steer a spacecraft to different locations in the solar system through 27 levels. They will reboot data robots and satellites in an effort to reach Mission Control.
  • Cosmic Quiz: What would an educational toy be without a quiz! If you’ve used LeapFrog products in the past, you will be familiar with the quiz mode. Kids will need to identify images they saw during Explore Mode to get the best score possible.
  • Gallery: This is where kids can look at all the pictures they have taken on their telescope.

Is the Magic Adventures telescope as fun as it is educational?

There is no denying that this telescope is very educational. LeapFrog continues to make great content for kids. With most LeapFrog products, I sometimes find the fun aspect outweighs the educational aspect. Here, I find the two very balanced. Using the telescope at night was much better than I could have ever imagined. I’ve had the pleasure of using telescopes that have cost thousands of dollars, and they are amazing. And so I thought this LeapFrog telescope, at this price, was bound to be disappointing.

That could not have been further from the truth. While you are obviously not getting tons of detail in the shots you are taking, it still is very impressive. If you live in the city, I think the actual telescope might have some limitations. The glow from the city will likely obscure any optimal shot into the night sky. Out in the country, however, this product is very useful, and my kids have been using it on many nights.

The educational images and videos built into the telescope from NASA are great as well. I found navigating the various menus a bit of a slog, but it was never something my kids seemed concerned with. I had similar opinions on the game built into the telescope—it’s a bit simplistic for me as an adult, but my 4 year old loves it.

The only potential downside to the product is the included adventure game. My 4 year old had fun with it each and every time he played, but my 9 year old was much less enthused. The game is very simplistic, and that simplicity has advantages. This is built as an accessible product for young children, and the game reflects that. Thankfully, this was the only included feature my older child was disinterested in.

Final thoughts

The LeapFrog telescope is very intuitive to use for all ages. The device can hold up to 10 high quality pictures on internal storage, but does have expandable MicroSD capabilities. To get the telescope to focus, kids simply have to use the small dial. For a kid’s product, the build quality is very good! When I think about the included games, the information from NASA, and the surprising capability of the LeapFrog Magic Adventure telescope itself, I think this is an excellent product for astronomy-loving kids!

Adam has a strong passion for video games, and has been writing about them for almost a decade. Although Adam loves playing 3D platformers and adventure games, he can often be found playing a variety of games on his YouTube channel. He also believes Yoshi is the best Mario Kingdom character. You can chat with Adam on twitter, @adamroffel!

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