As you will all know by now. Master C is train obsessed. But it’s an obsession that I regularly try to use to his advantage when it comes to teaching him things. For ages he wasn’t at all interested in holding a pen or doing any sort of “mark making” as it’s described in Early Years Foundation Stage documentation. Then he suddenly started wanting to draw trains, in particular drawing on carriage on each separate piece of A4 paper and then sticking them all together. This was swiftly followed by seeing track layout diagrams in some of my OH’s model railway magazines and the next thing we knew he was drawing track layouts. All this “mark making” practice has really helped him develop his fine motor skills and pen grip and now that he’s half a term into reception he’s writing his name with confidence and also let his step-sister sit down with him and show him how to write a letter to Father Christmas which he did with a huge amount of accuracy and enthusiasm. It’s all about taking his train obsession and using it to steer getting him to do other things.
That’s exactly the same when it comes to the Thomas and Friends Smart Tablet that he was sent to review. I’m always somewhat torn as to what the appropriate age is for toys like this. The official age range is 2+, but actually as soon as a child is young enough to press buttons (even in a haphazard fashion) they would get some degree of enjoyment out of this tablet. Older children like Master C who are starting to be able to read and write get a totally different level of enjoyment out if it. It really is a toy that can last and work for all different ages.
The tablet has six activities which are all about recognising letters, numbers, colours and shapes and also an interactive quiz. Now normally when I’m reviewing toys I like to have a good play with them myself so I can properly test out all the features and see for myself exactly how it works etc. I’ve tried the same approach with this Thomas and Friends Smart Tablet only to have Master C to tell me that I’m not allowed to play with his tablet as I have an iPad of my own to play with. He will very proudly wave it in front of me, pressing various buttons and shouting things like “listen to Edward!”
The Smart Tablet only has one proper button on it – the power button – whereas all the others are little push buttons underneath the plastic “skin”, This gives the tablet a bit of a touch screen feel that so many children are used to from using normal tablets.
I’m also pleased to report that the Smart Tablet is nicely robust so it can withstand those little people tantrums that I know most parents will be very familiar with. I did notice that the plastic bumper bit around it can be pulled away from the main body so that Master C was using it as a handle to carry the tablet around the house. I’m not sure it was designed to be used that way, but it’s what he was doing all the same.
Master C has taken to keeping his Smart Tablet in the car so that he can play with it on the school run and also for those times that we find ourselves miracles lousy early for school, meaning that I use the opportunity to do a spot of extra home learning with Little Miss C in a morning. With her monopolising the iPad at home he’s rather liking having his own tablet to play on rather than having to wait for his turn all the time.
On the boring detail front, the tablet requires 3 AAA batteries and these are not included, meaning that it doesn’t work in the box, which frustrated Master C greatly when he was first given it.
The Thomas and Friends Smart Tablet is exclusively available at Tesco and can be found online here.
Disclaimer: We were sent a Thomas and Friends Smart Tablet for the purposes of this review. All opinions remain my own.