VTech Alphabet Train: Teaching Baby to Walk, Teaching Preschoolers the Alphabet
Apr 12, 2009
Pros: lots of activities, not too annoying, alphabet learning, walker and ride-on, batteries included
Cons: Narrow design tips some.
The Bottom Line: Sit to stand... infant to toddler... every day there's a new discovery to make with the VTech Sit-to-Stand Alphabet Train.
We can always count on getting at least one big present for each kid for Christmas from grandparents. This year, outside of a car seat, that big present for Z-Man was the V-Tech Alphabet Train. This was one toy that HAD to be put together right then and there. I cannot even convey how much of a hit this toy has been for all the children in our home.
Learning to Share During the weekdays, there are four children (2 preschoolers and 2 infant/toddlers) in our home - none of them at an age to share toys very well. So the Alphabet Train became first and foremost a sharing lesson as all four of the kids. The preschoolers loved the included wagon, pushing the buttons and playing with the included blocks. The babies, who were both in a pre-walking stage, absolutely loved pushing the train around the house. From the beginning Z-Man knew the train was his and he was very protective of it especially when his infant counterpart came around.
Let's Take a Ride on the Alphabet Train For such a compact design the V-Tech Alphabet Train really encompasses a lot. To begin with, the main piece is yellow plastic molded into the shape of a train with a plethora of activities for little ones to explore (I'll get to those more in a minute). The second piece included with the Alphabet Train is a ride on wagon that attaches to the train. Attaching the wagon is fairly easy and something my 3 year old figured out within a week. Set-up was fairly easy as all we had to do was free the pieces from the packaging and add the wheels and handle to the train/wagon. So let's find out a little more about these pieces.....
Chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo The train itself starts out as a push toy for pre-walkers. It does have a fairly narrow width though so several times in the beginning we were rescuing Squirt from tipping over. Once he got the hang of it though there was no stopping him. For about three weeks straight walking was the only thing he wanted to do with his train - as well as another little boy who's at our house regularly. Have you ever seen 2 infants fighting over the same toy? I highly believe the Alphabet train was responsible for teaching the little guy to walk. Obviously all the activities run on batteries. The INCLUDED (yes I said included) 3 AA batteries are still holding strong in our train, though I fear they may give out soon. I would say this is pretty good wear for daily, constant use.
Now on to the activities... There are 2 modes... Walker and discovery. While in the walker mode the train plays music and responds to being pushed around. The music is pretty much like any other electronic toy. Once it gets played enough you get sick of it, but it is tolerable for a while. The music will play for approximately 30 seconds without interaction and then she will say "bye-bye" and shut off. There is a volume control on one side, which is very nice.
On the main side there is a "piano" with 5 keys. Depending on the mode it will either say the number or the color of the key. There have been times when I've heard it become a piano and play music, but I have no idea what combination of buttons got it there.
Then there comes the Alphabet connection. The main space of the train features a plastic book with all of the letters and a picture of an item that starts with that letter. There are also 26 double sided blocks that match the pictures. Next to the book there are 4 slots to place the blocks and match to the book. When the train is idle, the "voice" will ask questions such as "can you find the block with the letter A?" to encourage interaction. We haven't really used this feature a lot as there are 4 kids in the house on a daily basis and the blocks would be lost if out. This could definitely be a useful teaching tool for sitting down with older toddlers and preschoolers to teach letters and matching.
On the top there is an elephant to push down... it just makes an elephant noise.
Then there is a block chute... take the alphabet blocks and shove them down and they come shooting out the back. This also works really well with cell phones we've found. If the wagon is attached they fall right into the under-basket, which is great for storage of these 26 blocks. Just this week this particular activity has grown in popularity. Squirt has figured out how to puch the blocks down into the chute and then giggles like crazy when he hears it shoot into the wagon.
Hitch it up and ride Lastly the included wagon makes the toy into a ride-on. At first my oldest (3 years) loved this but the baby (then 9 months) hated it. He wanted nothing to do with the wagon and would cry if it were attached. Like I said he liked being able to push it. Just recently though Squirt has found the wonder of the ride-on. It is low enough to the floor that his chubby, short legs can reach the floor and he can get on and off with minimal problems. It did not take long for him to figure out how to propel it forward and backward. The funner part is watching big brother push him around on it now that he has enough balance to hold on. He just grins from ear-to-ear.
Happily we chug along... The V-Tech Alphabet train was probably one of the best toys Squirt could have gotten for Christmas this year. Not only was it a push toy when he needed it to be, it will grow with him and get tons of use. Big Brother who is 3.5 still loves to play with the train, even though he's really at the point of being too big for the wagon. This is one of the toys that gets almost daily use and can calm down my fussy Squirt. It is on the pricey side (though it was a gift for us), but the amount of activities and fun that is encompassed in this one toy is worth it for us.
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