We LOVE our Word Whammer from Leapfrog! Ours looks like the one in the picture above, but from everything I found online, it looks like they now have a new model out that looks like this:
and has the name Fridge Words, but it does all the same things. I have no doubt that, because of this, plus the Leapfrog DVD Letter Factory, Jenna learned her alphabet at two, and now (at not-quite-three), she knows the sounds all the letters make. Amazing! I think it’s been great using both of the products together, because they use consistent examples and sounds.
There are three different levels of “play” on the machine. The first prompts you to find the letter that is named. The second prompts you to make words out of three letters (it says the name of each letter you put in and then praises you when they form a word). The third level asks you to find the letters that make a word (e.g., “Find the letters that spell the word ‘hat'”). There are 325 words programmed into the product, lights follow the letters to reinforce learning, and there are several catchy phonics songs to help teach both letters and sounds.
I like that there are no exposed magnets that could come loose and be swallowed or cause choking. The magnets are also very strong and they stick well. I think every child that comes to our house (even older ones!) is drawn to this toy and plays with it for at least a little bit. It holds Jenna’s attention for long stretches of time, and even did so when she was only one and simply enjoyed pushing the buttons to make it sing.
I only have one “gripe” with it. One day, after Jenna had walked away from it, it continued to chatter and prompt (it only does this 2 or 3 times then shuts off if there is no response), and I clearly heard it cheerfully say, “Find the letters that spell the word WAR.” Yes, I know that WAR is a three letter word, but I’m not sure why it needed to be programmed into a toy for children so young. Does that word really need to be in their vocabulary?? There are plenty of three letter words that aren’t programmed in (curse words, “adult” words like SEX, etc.), so I don’t think the argument that “it’s a valid three letter word that they’re going to learn someday” is a good enough reason. Bottom line: I think it’s odd that it’s in there and that it should have been left out, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Overall, I’m thrilled with this product and have seen the learning results first hand. It’s also pretty fantastic that Jenna thinks it’s a fun game and doesn’t even realize that it’s teaching her something! Thanks Leapfrog!