Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015
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Leo's Pad: Preschool Kids Learning Series

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Imagination and science intersect with famous kid scientists as guides

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Pre-K-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: With so much relevant interactivity, kids really feel like part of the stories.

Cons: Instructions are often repetitive and rapid-fire.

Bottom Line: Fun, seamlessly interactive appisodes engage kids in a holistic learning adventure

In the classroom, this app can be used by multiple students; simply create a username for each one. This is an excellent resource for starting kids off learning a little about famous historical figures in an accessible way. Add a children's book about each scientist at story time, and kids will relate even more to them and be more likely to absorb the positive messages they offer in the appisodes. If a student needs extra help in a certain area, check out the reports from the companion app and view the different aspects of the app's curriculum (Knowledge, Physical Skills, Character Skills, Thinking Skills, Creative Skills, and Social Emotional Skills). Complete the learner profile for each student to help discern which portion of which appisode may be best to highlight for that student, or follow the suggestions for offline activities that the companion app produces. Relating the app's characters to those skills in other teachable moments may help remind kids of the lessons they heard or skills they practiced during play on the app.

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Leo's Pad Enrichment Program for Preschoolers is a creative, interactive preschool animated series that stars kid versions of famous scientists. As the story line progresses through six appisodes plus a finale, kids can join in to help the characters through various learning activities (disguised as challenges or activities for the characters), some of which include co-play options for parents. Appisodes include designing a rocket, catching a floating question lab, and getting the lab back home. Kids practice basic preschool cognitive, academic, and social skills, including color, letter, and shape recognition, counting,  and more. Leo's Pad Enrichment Program for Preschoolers also finds ways to incorporate other lessons in areas such as science, engineering, art, social skills like sharing and taking turns, and experimenting like these famous scientists, artists, and inventors did. For example, while helping build a telescope for Gally, Leo asks kids to identify and then place certain shapes into an outline to create different pieces of the telescope. There's also a companion app called Learner Mosaic that teachers can use to track each student's user account for progress. An excellent, all-around preschool learning experience.

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Leo's Pad was designed by education experts at Stanford University to engage preschoolers in ways that maximize learning and incorporate development of the whole kid. As kids engage in the story-related activities, they are building skills that can transfer to the classroom. Kids are directed and encouraged at every step. One of the few downsides to Leo's Pad is that instructions are sometimes irrelevant or repeated so often that kids may get annoyed or confused by them. There are also sometimes minor issues with game functionality. And, to get nit-picky, there are some character inconsistencies that kids won't notice, but might bother parents. For instance, all the characters were non-English speakers, so why do only Marie and Teresa have an accent?

Each appisode builds upon a running theme but has a distinct story line and unique activities. The finale is somewhat disappointing, but overall, Leo's Pad Enrichment Program for Preschoolers is a high-quality educational app for preschoolers and kindergartners.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

The characters talk directly to kids, creating an atmosphere of interactivity and engagement. Each kid gets their own player icon.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Numerous cognitive, academic, and social skills are interwoven through the stories and games. Co-play games are designed for kids and an adult to play together.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Individual player accounts can be created for each student, and a Parent's Pad provides detailed progress.


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