When the opportunity came up on Blog Match to review Hot Dots, I thought they sounded right up Pierre's street. The cards merge playing and learning, which is always a winning combination, so we were really pleased to be selected to review the Original Talking Hot Dots Pen and Numbers & Counting card set.
The first slightly negative point is that we got off to a false start because the pen needs 2 AAA batteries which weren't included. After some rummaging around in the kitchen drawer, I managed to find some and we were off ! The pen has three options - encouragement, sounds or both - which was what we selected, so that you can auto-correct yourself, seeing the red or green right and listening to the comments such as "well done", "nice try" or "close". The pen interacts with the cards very much like the LeapPad books that we have, so Pierre knew exactly what he was supposed to do and needed no instructions from me at all.
As a fun and educational toy, it gets the Madhouse Seal of Approval. However, there are a few aspects that we felt could be improved. As far as I can see, there is no volume control and we thought the voice wasn't loud enough. Secondly, there is no on/off switch on the talking pen. This means that if, like Juliette, you (quite sensibly) decide to put the talking pen in the box along with the cards to stop it getting lost, if the nib sensor gets pushed in (as it almost certainly will), your batteries will run out in no time.
Having watched Pierre bending the cards and dropping them down the side of the armchair and trying to do them on his lap and not managing because they weren't flat, I also think it would have been better to have had them in a book format so that they'd all stay in one place and have a firm backing to lean on.
Overall, it's a good toy though and Pierre (not to mention his big sisters, every time he walked out of the room !) has been really enjoying playing with it.
If you head over to the Learning Resources Facebook page before the 16th November, there is a Hot Dots competition running in conjunction with Blog Match to win the pen and card set that we reviewed.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.95 for the pen, £8.95 for the card set
for more information : http://www.learningresources.co.uk/category/teachers/shop+by+brand/hotdots.do?code=BM-HD12
Disclosure : We received a Hot Dots Talking Pen and Card Set.
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