Which Learning Game System Do You like Best for a 4 Year Old?

Updated on December 27, 2010
H.L. asks from Saint John, IN
18 answers

We have an almost 4 year old daughter at home who is expecting a baby sister in the next week. We want to have the new baby get her a learning game system that my daughter has been asking for. The question is... we have looked at 3 different systems. They all have good points and ones that I am not so excited about. I want to know which system you like best. The 3 we have looked at are Fisher Price iXL 6-in-1, vTech MobiGo, or Leapster2 system. If you have one or more of these systems, which do you like best and why? Are there regrets after buying a system that you wish you hadn't bought or gotten a different one? Thanks in advance for your help.

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So What Happened?

We went with the Leapster Explorer and she really likes it. Thanks for your help!

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answers from Chicago on

We have the Leapster2 and wish we wouldn't have wasted the money. The graphics are terrible. I don't know anything about the Fisher Price or V Tech systems, but I would not recommend the Leapster.



answers from Chicago on

we have the Leapster L Max....my son & daughter have had them for 3 years now...my son is 6 & does very well academically in school & still loves & is challenged by all the games........i dont' know much about the other 2 as they are so new

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answers from Chicago on

We have the Leapster2, got it this summer. We like the wide variety of games available (seems like more than for the other two systems, probably because the Leapster device has been around longer and they just updated some of the games to go with the additional "2" functionality). We like that you can get games featuring almost all the characters my kids like, including Thomas the Train and Diego, as well as the widely available Dora and Disney characters, plus non-licensed character games. They have a lot of movie-tie-in Disney games, which I didn't see with the other two systems (other than Toy Story). The Learning Path you can check online shows you which specific skills your child has been working on, and you can print out more activities and coloring pages that "unlock" as your child plays with the system more and more. You can also get online "rewards," though this takes a little more parent involvement. The available case holds the game cartridges UNDER the handheld system, so they're not falling out while the kid plays. An A/C adapter is available, which is great if you're using it at home and don't want to blow through batteries. They also offer a rechargable battery pack, although I didn't get that because it makes the handheld heavier and harder for little hands to hold.

We started out with an order for an Explorer, which had just come out over the summer, and found it very hard to locate places to buy the game download cards at that point. Perhaps they've corrected that by now; the big difference with the Explorer is it's all game (or book) downloads, no cartridges. Good in that there's nothing to lose. Bad in that mom or dad has to keep the device loaded with games and switch them around periodically. We chose to go with the cartridge device so the kids could switch them themselves to their heart's delight. We also have a Tag Junior book reader and the device memory can only hold a certain number of books at a time - we saw this as a potential downfall of an all digital device.

That said, for Christmas, we are buying some more Leapster2 games AND considering also buying the iXL, because of the e-book feature (it has choices for different books than the Tag Junior) and mp3 player feature (please stop grabbing mommy's iPod!). But we're not regretting our decision to start with the Leapster2 AT ALL, both our 4 and 2 year olds love it. It wasn't supposed to be for the 2 year old but with a little help from the older child the first week, she caught on just fine. The 4 year old is in heaven when he gets to play it. The 2 year old tends to actually touch the screen where the 4 year old uses the stylus more, so it's nice that the screen can handle that.

The only thing that seemed different and cool about the MobiGo to me was the qwerty keyboard, and frankly I didn't want my kid to start grabbing my phone and texting away to random addresses (it looks very much like a big slider phone). I think my kids get enough keyboard familiarity by just playing the occasional game on the real computer. But I certainly could have missed some exciting feature when doing the research.

Hope that helps, good luck with the new baby!
BTW, great move to bring a fun gift from the baby, my 4 year old still refers to his tool bench as his "tools from (sister's name)." They remember!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

My 4 year old got a Leapster 2 last year for Christmas and he's outgrown it, it's to "babyish" for him now. We just got him a Nintendo DS for his birthday. He loves it and it can grow with him.



answers from Indianapolis on

I vote for Leapster2.....it's expandable, can be bought about anywhere for anyone who would like to help contribute for Christmas and such.....and my grandkids loved theirs.........

Good Luck and I'm sure whatever you pick will be right........just check out all the assecories and make sure they are things she would use and like before you purchase.



answers from Chicago on

My almost 2 year old and 4 year old love the leapster. My 2 year old loves to draw on it. My 4 year old loves the star wars game. (We use rechargeable batteries). My kids also love the Nintendo DSI. You can take pictures and decorate them (with wigs, make mustaches..., you can also make funny sounds and distort them along with the games. Portability is always a plus for both.



answers from Peoria on

We just got my daughter the pink mobigo and she loves it! We chose this mainly because of the age range and she just turned 3 so I wanted something that was a big age range.

My boys both had the leapster when they were young and it was a big hit too. Although I'm not sure if the leapster is touch screen but the mobigo is.

Either way, you really can't go wrong with the educational hand held games. My daughter has already learned a lot from it!



answers from Chicago on

We have the Leapster 2. My son enjoys it - he is allowed to play it when out if I need him to be still while at an appointment, or else it is rationed. They have the Explorer out now - it takes different game cartridges from the Leapster 2. We have accumulated a lot of the games - yes graphics aren't great but not terrible! It's adequate for their age. You can buy games for different age groups so they progress. My son was great at his numbers, letters and reading at 4. At 5 he is on to difficult addition and subtraction and multiplication too - I credit some of it to Leapster 2 for making him quick with his calculations and FUN. Don't have experience with the other systems other than what I tried at stores. None of the graphics are phenomenal. An alternative is an Ipod or DSI - I know at 4 thats probably over the top, but it will grow with her for years to come??? - again I don't know anything about them. Good luck in your search!! FYI The Leapfrog website has some deals on at the moment.



answers from Chicago on

I don't know much about the FP or vtech, but I know the Leapster now has a new system, the Explorer, that has alot of the same functions as the FP system. And Leapster usually has really good educational games. I'm not for sure what would be best for a 4 year old....I have a 6 yo and we are debating getting him the Explorer or a DS, prob is the Explorer will probably only be good for him for another year, maybe 2 at the most, where as the DS will work long term. But, I think the DS maybe a bit much for a 4 yo to handle....maybe not so much for a 6 yo.

Here is the info on the explorer: http://www.amazon.com/LeapFrog-Leapster-Explorer-Learning...



answers from Chicago on

I just got my daughter the Leapster Explorer for her 4th birthday and she loves it. She figures things out on her own and is very independent with it. We haven't bought any games for it yet, for now she is entertained by the stuff that comes on it.
I researched a little and the Explorer was highly reviewed by other parents.
Good Luck and congrats on the growing family :)



answers from Chicago on

I am getting Leapster Explorer this week w/my TRU coupons & their sale. I've looked at them and my thought with Leapster 2 is that the stores are price-slashing the games...meaning it might not be around much longer given the release of Leapster Explorer (and the games are not compatible). I agonized for a while on this but I think Explorer is most current, and Leapster has been making these handheld game systems for years so I feel they have worked out the kinks.



answers from Chicago on

Go with the Leapster Explorer rather than the Leapster 2 (if you go the Leapster route).



answers from Kansas City on

my daughter who will be 4 is getting the mobigo



answers from Chicago on

We got my son (3.5 at the time) the Leapster & he LOVES it! Still plays it a lot 1 year later. We are looking at the Leapster Explorer for Chrsitmas this year & handing down the Leapster to his 2.5 year old sister. It has even more educational games & activities that will grow with him. My 6 year old nephew always asks to play the Leapster! We looked at the Fisher Price one, but, in our opinion, LeapFrog has cornered the market in the educational electronics! He has played the VTech and enjoys it, but the Leapster was much easier for him to handle & use the controls.
FYI: there is also the JumpStart computer software (I know Toys R Us carries it) that my son will play for hours if we let him! The Pre-K he is in also uses it.



answers from New York on

I have a 2yr girl, a 4&1/2yr boy & a 6&1/2 nephew. Both my son and my nephew have a NDS Lite they enjoy it and used to like to play all the time. My daughter has learned to use it and a couple of months ago learned to play a little bit in the Leapster 2 so I got her a LEAPSTER EXPLORER for her birthday two monts ago...... all I can tell you is that in three days I had to change the batteries three times and my daughter has barely used it, because her 4&1/2yr and her 6&1/2 cousin don't let her. They love it, they love the challenges, my son feels like a big boy because he can read and build words by himself, and they learn a lot more than with the ds...
I dont regret getting it, I have two nieces that have had the leapster and the leapster 2 for a few years and they still play at 6 and 8 years.
Thus I seriously recommmend buying the charger, that even when i consider it a litte pricey, is worthj it in the long run.
They have a lot of games (that develop different series of skills), as well as e-books, videos and even a camera that takes both pictures and video that might not be as clear as a 10 pixels, but that for the price is pretty decent.


answers from Oklahoma City on

my daughter played the vsmile when she was little, she LOVED it..you can buy a keyboard accessory to teach them typing....need to get her a new one


answers from Lansing on

My 3 year old plays on her sisters DS. I like it becasue there are sooo many games, a lot of learning games, and it will definitly grow with her!


answers from Sioux City on

From experience, it is a waist of money. My kids get more out of toys without batteries. Most of those toys sit in the closet and collect dust.

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