VTech V. Smile Motion Active Learning System: Video Games for the Preschooler Set? You Bet!

08/26/2009 at 10:00 AM ET

We have a large age range span at our house, and inevitably this causes problems when the 4-year-old wants to play video games with the 17-year-old. VTech’s V. Smile Motion Active Learning System ($60) changed that dynamic and opened up a whole new world of video game fun that I had no idea even existed.

First off, squeals of delight welcomed the pink and purple console and its wireless controller (not to worry, it also comes in primary colors for a tougher look).  Within minutes, my daughter had it out of the box and with minimal help, plugged into the television, trying out Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Fix-it Adventure game ($25).  Her father and I were reading the instructions to her, but she was already playing, yelling “Swiper! No swiping!” repeatedly.

For kids ages 4-7, the games are lessons in disguise: while my daughter was spending time happily bouncing the joystick from frame to frame, she was counting to 20, working through the alphabet and matching animal babies with the sounds they make. I read up on the different lessons, feeling happy that she was learning something and playing at the same time.  She’s also really into the Disney Little Einsteins ($24.99) cartridge because it has all of the music and dancing that she enjoys in the show. We’re finding that the lessons are fun, integral parts of the games.

Another plus is that the cartridges are all very kid-friendly – my daughter easily slams them into and out of the system with (so far) no ill effects and has had to swipe them (Swiper! No swiping!) from her toddler brother on more than one occasion.

— Alicia, Austin mom of a blended family of six:  a rough-and-tumble 1-year-old boy; a 4-year-old princess-obsessed girl; three teenaged girls and a son heading off to college in the fall, looks for quality gear that makes life easier and ups the family fun quotient

CBB Deal: Save 20% at Vtechkids.com using coupon code CBBVtech909 (expires October 1, 2009).

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mari on

Love this game console. We got it for my son (he’s 3 1/2). It’s entertaining and educational. He can figure out most games on his own without help and doesn’t get discouraged as he has from playing Wii. It can also be played in the car if you have the AV jacks and screen. Two downfalls: 1.Not a lot of games to choose from but every once in a while they are half price at Best Buy or buy-one-get-one-free at Toys-R-Us. 2. The console and controller are powered by batteries which can run down quickly if your child plays a lot or forgets to turn off the machine.

arizona family on

wow, and i thought i was trained early on machines. but is this really a good thing for kids to be introduced to electronic devices from such a young age? whatever happened to just letting the kid be out there in nature without the impositions of the adult world?

lirpa2486 on

We got this as a Christmas present for my son last year (he was two then). Although he was a little young for it, he really enjoyed “playing”. We haven’t used it since the weather’s nice, but it’s a great activity for the long, cold NY winter. I agree with Mari – the console requires too many batteries, and VTech only recommends using non-rechargeable batteries for their products. With the console & two controllers, that’s a whole lot of wasted batteries. I’m currently looking for some new games – the standard game is fun, but I’m sure the character ones are more intriguing.

mari on

In response to Arizona Family
This isn’t like other video gaming machines – it won’t turn a child into a video-gamimg vegetable drone. EVERY game is filled with educational content. It helps with hand-eye coordination, problem solving and concentration (all of which will be needed in Kindergarten) And as the name implies, it’s a V-Motion – the player is up and moving around while playing.

It’s ALWAYS beneficial to do a little research on a product before commenting about it being potentially harmful or negative for a young child.

Cece on

I’m not opposed to educational learning devises, however parents who can’t afford this, as it requires paying for each additional game, should know that http://www.PBS.org, and http://www.noggin.com, have free games online for children. Children can simply use a computer, and of course parents can monitor when/how long they stay on. There are plenty of great spelling games for preschool, gradeschool and even more challenging ones on http://www.pbs.org for teens!