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On the Tuesday before Christmas, parents with good intentions were swarming through the second floor of the Toys "R" US store in Times Square. There, amid columns of bright green plastic and the flashing headlights of a singing school bus, were shelves of products by Leapfrog Enterprises, a company based in Emeryville, Calif. that in six years has become one of the fastest-growing toy makers in the nation. Its best-selling product is the Leaped; an electronic talking book that some analysts say is even outselling Harry Potter merchandise. "We like to buy things that are learning-based, more than just toys," said dolce gabbana jewelry Dianne Chodaczek of Riverside, Conn., as she made her way out of the crowd with a $ 49.99 Leaped tucked under her arm. She said she had come on an errand for her grower daughter, who had already bought a Leaped for her 4-year-old son and had decided to get one for her 6-year-old son, too. "They were out of them in her tower in New Jersey," said Ms. Chodaczek before dashing for the checkout line.
Some parents may recede at the notion of pricey electronics becoming more popular than Play-Doh. But Leapfrog is bounding ahead, propelled by the financial muscle of its majority owner, the global education corporation Knowledge Universe. Founded in part by Michael Milken, the former junk-bond trader who has recently focused on educational projects, Knowledge Universe has enabled Leapfrog to run multiple television commercials for it; products and to spread its doctrine by paying calls on influential education experts. Leapfrog has joined other companies like Educational Insights and Vetch in the winning combination of coupling technology with that word that parents love to hear: educational.
By taking advantage of ever smaller chip sizes and improved speech synthesis, electronic toys like the Leaped, the Piccolo Touch and Talk Interactive Discovery Center and Cartier jewellery necklaces Alphabet & Sprocket unite two factors that most educators see as integral to the learning process. They are multisensory, x>mining elements that children can see, hear and touch, and they are interactive, enabling children to take charge of their play instead of passively receiving whatever stimuli are beamed their way. With the Leaped, for example, a child has to merely touch the word "cat" with a stylus and the machine will say the word. Other words and buttons trigger the start of stories r word games or specific sounds. The idea is that by hearing a word while seeing and touching it, children will get a leg up in learning to read.
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