This cool animated reading game is one "plugged in" toy I can endorse. When I came across the SmartyAnts concept, I was intrigued. Targeting kids 4-7, I was in the sweet spot for this review. Developed by one of the founders of LeapFrog, this toy is meant to encourage and entertain burgeoning readers.
Smarty Phonics Reading Pup is designed for children who are entering the amazing world of reading. Whether completely new to ABCs, already reading, or somewhere in between, this toy and program has a game suited to your child's development.
Our "pup" arrived in the mail. Setting him up was a breeze. We simply switched him on and squeezed his toe. My 5 year old was smitten--the plush dog swayed his head to the music and regaled us with a song about letter sounds--perfect for my early reader. She's still tripped up by the different "c" sounds--carrot versus charm. Very handy song indeed.
Next, we went to http://www.smartyants.com/ to set up the online component. I'm sad to say my old macbook pro (the one where we put all the kid-related stuff) took three hours to download the application. I imagine a high-speed connection+newer computer would download the SmartyAnts app in a second. We dealt with the frustration and carried on.
Once we had the software in place it was time for the fun to begin. We got animated figure, an ant, named her Julia (my first lesson in Internet safety--NEVER name a avatar after yourself) and set about playing. All the games are phonics-related and super fun. We wrestled with the climbing wall of letter sounds and stomped on letters on a virtual treadmill. All the games helped us build an early reader book.
Each game can has personalized levels of difficulty based on your child's skills--all very impressive. If you're going to rely upon online support for your reader, it doesn't get much better than this game. It's got plenty of flash, but mostly relies on substance. More information about the science that went into the game visit http://www.smartyants.com/for-parents
Smarty Ants is available on Amazon.com($69.99 for the Reading Pup and 1 year subscription). You'll get a fuzzy interactive pup and 69 educational units packed with interactive videos, 67 stories and 300 personalized songs. Plus, there's a feature that will share your child's progress with relatives. You can send a "daily woof" email to tell grandparents how your child is progressing.
Win it! One lucky reader is going to get a jump on holiday shopping. We're giving away a SmartyAnts Pup and year subscription to one lucky Momtrends reader. To enter, visit the parents section here and then come back and tell me why you'd like to try this toy.
contest closed--winner: Aryerse at gmail.com
Be sure to add your contact email. Contest open to US residents ages 18 and over. Contest ends 11/20/10 at midnight EST. Winners will be selected by random.org. Winners will be announced on a blog post. If winner fails to respond in three days a new winner will be chosen. This is a sponsored post--Momtrends was hired by the BabyCenter Blog to review this product, but all opinions are 100% our own.