Review: LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD

LeapFrog is such a well-known name when it comes to children’s educational toys; I know my children have benefitted over the years from their fun and engaging products.  I had never watched a LeapFrog DVD, though, until our family was recently provided a copy for review.

Originally marketed and sold in 2003, the Leap Frog DVD LeapFrog Letter Factory has been repackaged and re-released with the help of media giant Lionsgate to be brought before a whole new audience.  I had wondered about the slightly “old school” animation, and knowing it’s at least 6 years old made sense of that.  What this new version of the DVD has to offer, though, is more information on LeapFrog’s incredible new Learning Path web-based parenting center (if you love LeapFrog, you’ll want to check out that link!), updated trailers of Lionsgate coming attractions, and an interactive learning game found on the main menu (which helps to support all the lessons taught on the DVD).

The DVD itself is pretty cute.  Like I said, the animation is a little “old school,” but I mean that more as an observation than a real criticism.  Watching similar reading skills shows like Super Why! and Word World, you just see a bit more sophistication in animation these days.

What I really liked about LeapFrog Letter Factory was that it not only teaches the letter names, but the letter sounds, and in clever ways.  Each letter gets a kind of story and personality, and expresses their sounds in an organic way through that.  For instance, the “A” s are all scaredy-cats, and yell “Aaaaa!” when seeing a monster costume.  The “E” is an elderly letter in a rocking chair, answering “Eh?” when the young frog Tad tries to ask him a question.  The “O”s swing around on vines like Tarzan, hollering the familiar jungle call (you have to try to imagine that).  The eccentric professor Quigley is Tad’s guide through the letter factory, and after an introduction to each short set of letters, the stories/sounds are all reinforced in song.  This format makes nice use of repetition in learning.

This DVD is best-suited for children 2-5, as it focuses on early reading skills.  My youngest son is just 20 months, but there’s no reason I won’t have him watch this movie now – if nothing else, it’s cute and the music is fun, and there’s nothing wrong with early exposure to reading!  I don’t usually point people to other reviews just to reinforce my own, but I DO think it’s worth mentioning that out of 639 customer reviews of this DVD, 586 of them were 5-star reviews.  That’s not too shabby!  If you have a pre-schooler or early elementary student, and you’re wanting support in teaching early reading skills, this might be the DVD for you.