Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006
Review: Fridge Phonics + Numbers Magnetic Learning Set by LeapFrog
Fridge Phonics + Numbers Magnetic Learning Set does something right. Most electronic speaking toys I’ve tested offer speech which is too complex for a toddler who hasn’t begun speaking or is just beginning to say words. Fridge Phonics is simple.
Turn on the toy, place a letter or number “key” into a small “keyhole” recess in the middle of the unit, and press the letter or number to hear about it. For example, if you insert the plastic “B” piece and press it, a boy’s voice sings to you: “B. B says buh. B says buh. Every letter makes a sound. B says buh.”
Insertiion of a number is handled slightly different, with the number merely being announced. Pressing the number a second time makes the boy count from 1 up to that number.
A second activity comes through a red musical note button on the unit. When pressed while a letter is in the keyhole, or the keyhole is empty, the boy’s voice sings the alphabet song. When a number is in the keyhole, the boy counts from 1 up to that number, accompanied by music. The addition of numbers to this toy is obviously an afterthought, an add-on to give the toy greater functionality.
The sound recording restarts each time a letter or button is pressed. So, when Little Miss hammers away at a letter, I have to endure the toy repeating itself in a stuttering manner such as, “B. B. B. B says buh. B. B. B. B says buh.” Maybe she’s goofing off, or maybe she’s trying to learn the letters.
One thing you need for this toy is refrigerator space. The unit is about 4 inches square and adheres like a fridge magnet to a metal surface. Thirty-six letters and numbers are each 2 inches long and also stick like fridge magnets.
Little Miss uses Fridge Phonics when Mom or Dad is preparing food in the kitchen. In one week’s time she has verbally counted one through six to us, though I’m sure it was more a parrot action rather than an awareness of counting.
Sometimes we give her Fridge Phonics while seated at the dinner table, before food is ready. The toy is rated for 2-year-olds, but at almost 19 months, she has the strength and dexterity to hold the unit in one hand and place/pull letters with her other hand. A requisite skill to use the toy is basic puzzle solving â€“ the ability to rotate a letter piece until it fits into the unit.
Squirrel warning: Watch out for hoarding activity. Two toddlers we know who have this toy hide the letters and numbers under their fridge and couch. Little Miss enjoys hiding pieces under the cushion of our rocking chair.
Confusion warning: This toy comes in two editions, an alphabet-only version (Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set) and an identical version which also comes with numbers 1 through 10 (Fridge Phonics + Numbers Magnetic Learning Set). The letters-only version is widely available, but I found the larger version for the same price. The numbers version reportedly sells at brick ‘n’ mortar Wal*Mart and Sears stores, though I’ve only found it online at Wal*Mart.