Educational toys are always things I consider buying for my kids. I love giving my kids chances to just be kids. If educational benefits can be woven into playtime, however, I am going to take advantage. LeapFrog is leading the way in educational toys for kids and the Touch & Learn World Map is a great example of this. When using this map, children can explore different countries and continents, learn about landmarks and animals, and so much more. While I reviewed the English version of this map with my kids, LeapFrog also offers a French version.
While promising a lot, does this LeapFrog product deliver? Let’s take a look!
Design of the Touch & Learn World Map
The LeapFrog Touch & Learn map is made of light plastic and unfolds into three panels. The map also includes a spot to mount the device to a wall, which was my kids’ favourite way to explore the toy. When unfolded, the 81cm x 40 cm layout is a great size for young children. Some of the interactive map games do require the ability to read, so are not recommended for the lowest age range of the product. The entire product is easily managed by kids aged 4 years and up.
The icons on the map are very colourful, and detailed. It was great to see my kids excited about the CN Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and animals they recognized. There is great variety here, and I commend LeapFrog for their work on including diverse and unique options across the board.
It is worth noting that the product does require two AA batteries. Though these are included in the box, the manufacturer suggests only using these batteries for demonstration purposes. I strongly recommend switching them out for your own batteries.
Using the LeapFrog Touch & Learn World Map
The top of the map has four buttons that will activate different modes of play. These will kickstart exploration and learning for kids through interactive touchpoints. The touchpoints are all over the map and include countries, famous monuments, animals, and oceans. There are a total of 200 touchpoints, and each one provides an audio explanation when tapped. Children can learn about the geography of the world, as well as various animals and other things, through interactive play with the map.
I did quickly find out that the World Map does not work well on soft surfaces. Anytime my youngest attempted to use the product on the carpet or on the couch, it would not recognize the inputs he was attempting to press. While this might be a bit disappointing, I do understand because of the materials used. The pliable plastic-like materials used to produce the map make it easy to fold and store away or transport, but likely reduce the sensitivity of the touchpoints.
Play modes on the Touch & Learn World Map
Between an exploration mode and three included games, there is a lot of content here for young children. It is great that all of it is educational. There are three games built into the device, as well as a general Discovery Mode. The Discovery Mode is the ideal starting place for kids. The information learned by touching different interactive points on the map will be what is used in the other three games. The more a child learns and remembers during their discovery, the better they will score during the various games.
Discovery Mode will let kids look at different locations and icons on the map. Simply pressing the various spots will provide bite-sized facts. There are many different things to interact with, such as country names—there are some countries oddly missing here—natural and man-made landmarks, animals, oceans, and more. Each location or icon provides a few tidbits of information. When pressing Canada, you will be told it is the largest country in North America, and that the capital is Ottawa. A similar audio playback is available for the United States, and other countries. While some may wish for more information to be shared, the amount provided is perfect for kids in the 5-8 age range.
Ready for a trip around the world? In the World Racer games, kids will be tasked with finding specific countries on the map based on clues they are provided. If they get it wrong, a better, more obvious clue is given. The game gives you about one minute to see how many different countries you can identify. Understanding and remembering information from the Discovery Mode is very beneficial here.
Once again, how much information kids have retained via the Discovery Mode will impact how well they do with the animal quizzes. A short description of a specific animal will be given, after which kids will have to attempt to locate the animal on the map, pressing the icon. The information at first might seem a bit generic, but additional clues will really help pinpoint the exact animals they are looking for. For example, when attempting to find the beaver, the game will tell you to locate a large rodent. Additional clues will guide kids to North America, and specifically Canada, to find the requested animal.
Famous Sites Race
When locating famous landmarks in this game, you’ll get very similar vibes from the Animal Quiz mode. The information here was actually a bit more difficult than the animal questions, in my opinion. The first clue, again, will be very generic. After that additional clues will help pinpoint countries, states or provinces, and more.
My kids (ages 4 and 8) had a good time with the LeapFrog Touch & Learn World Map. They enjoyed learning about places and animals, and asked often for the mat to be taken out and laid on the table or hung on the peg. Although this might not be something they play with for hours on end, it was constantly taken out and used during the few weeks I had it. If you have inquisitive kids who have a desire for knowledge, the Touch & Learn World Map is a fantastic multi-purpose, fun, and educational experience that can help spark curiosity about other countries and cultures.
Discover more educational toys from LeapFrog for the children in your life on bestbuy.ca.