Learning to read via song
The Story So Far...
Well, it's found it's way back into our house with a disguise, as the disc has been re-packaged as a DVD, now titled Sing and Learn with Us!, and the books are now the passenger (see The Extras.) Outside of the change in format, it's essentially the same product, with twelve short "music videos" focusing on short vowel sounds, featuring a new gang of characters, including Al, Og, Meg, Izzy and Gus (with no Leap or any of his family around.) The videos come with exercises teaching about the sounds by showing various word roots and how the sounds form new words by changing letters. There's no thread tying it all together, nor is there any real story to follow.
That's probably part of why it's been the black sheep of the LeapFrog family around my home, as it's very loose in its construction and very different than the rest of the successful LeapFrog DVD series. The other part of the issue is the level of the educational material. The original set was marked for three years and up, while this set says three to six. Now, yes, my daughter is a bit advanced in terms of her reading and language skills, but she was incredibly bored watching this disc at the age of five (and wasn't much more impressed back when I first bought it.) The thing is, it's not the material, but the way it's presented, as she has had other vocabulary DVDs that she's loved (the Meet the Sight Words series being her favorite.)
Though the musical numbers are certainly catchy examples of pop songwriting, they are nonsensical, presenting the short vowel sounds first and foremost, at the expense of any kind of tale or logic. Part of that may be because of the rushed feel of the clips, with the entire presentation, including 12 "books" is crammed into just 32 minutes. By comparison, the first Meet the Sight Words DVD spends 40 minutes focusing on just a few WORDS. As such, there's just too much happening here too quickly, and you don't get the opportunity to spend a great deal of time on any one concept. That's unfortunate, because the new characters were what interested my daughter the most, and could probably serve as effective hosts for the material.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track sounds fine, but it's fine in that way that leaves you thinking, why present music this way? And then you think, do toddlers care about such things? And the answer is no.
The Bottom Line