Toy Review: The Letter
Our Recommended Age: 3-6
Our Rating: A
The Letter Factory Game
often need some hand-holding when it comes to working
through board games, simply because they need to learn about
turn-taking and develop some patience. The Letter Factory
Game by Leapfrog features electronic hand-holding in the
form of Professor Quigley, a talking guide who lets them
know whose turn it is, how many spaces to move, and which
cards to find.
board game has an educational agenda, but it certainly
doesn't detract from the fun. In fact, The Letter Factory
Game features little ditties that can be downright silly
about each letter of the alphabet.
are two modes of play to choose from: Level 1 is Counting,
Colors and Letters mode, best for ages 3-4; and Level 2 is
Letter Match mode, best for children who have had some
exposure to letters (approximately ages 4-5).
both modes, kids are asked to find a card on the board that
matches the spoken criteria, place it in the electronic card
reader (pictured below), and move their game pieces along
colored squares accordingly.
the Counting, Colors, and Letters mode, kids need only find
a card that is either orange, yellow, red, blue, or purple
and place it in the card reader. If they are correct, they
move their game piece a specified number of squares, and the
voice actually counts with players. The color of the square
that the game piece lands on is then named. Finally, the
letter on the card is announced through a song that
identifies both the name of the letter and its phonics
sound! As you can see, reinforcement of each educational
element (counting, colors, and letters) is given every step
of the way.
second mode of play, Letter Match, plays similarly, except
that kids are asked to find specific letters, identified by
their names, phonics sound, or alphabetic position. For
example, children might be asked to "find the letter H
for 'hot'" or "find the letter that makes the
sound 'puh' as in 'pop'", or "find the letter that
comes after R".
matter which mode of play selected, letters on each card are
introduced through songs, some of which are silly. For
example, the lyrics for one of the songs for the letter P
are: "p-p-p-please make some p-p-p-popcorn".
Letters with multiple phonics sounds are also incorporated
(for example, A is for "ape" and "ant").
surprises are weaved into gameplay, such as the prompt for
everyone to do a silly dance! When kids place the incorrect
letter card into the card reader, they are told, "We
were looking for a different letter". They are given
another chance to find the correct letter before losing a
board game requires 3 AA batteries which, of course, are not
included. The Letter Factory board game is based on
Leapfrog's DVD/video of the same name. (See our review
of The Letter Factory DVD/Video for more information).
kid testers thoroughly enjoyed the game. At times, the audio
prompts added a rushed element to the game, but these were
also appealing because children enjoyed the instructions and
the prompts kept the game rolling. We like the fact that
setting up the game involves placing alphabet cards on the
matching spaces on the board, so that game set-up is an
educational activity in and of itself!