My Friend Freddy Bear from Vivid ToysLM is quite speech delayed and we're always looking for new ways to promote her speaking and get her chattering. Interactive toys are a great way to do this and I knew that the brand new My Friend Freddy Bear from Vivid Toy Group could potentially be a great tool for us to use in our support of her talking.
My Friend Freddy Bear is brought to you by the same team who launched My Friend Cayla with great success last year. He's a large teddy bear with a lovely smile and friendly expression. To operate him you place three AA batteries in his back and switch him on. By doing this he will talk and his mouth will move but, to really see Freddy's full functionality, you need to download the free app and pair him with your tablet or phone using Bluetooth.
Freddy is a gorgeous bear. He has orangey-brown fur which is beautifully soft, and a tuft of blonde hair on top. He arrives wearing a t-shirt and he's so cuddly. You can use him without the app, his touch sensors will work - he asks for hugs and giggles when he is tickled. Freddy hates to be upside down and say 'wheeeeeee' then ask to be turned the right way up if he is left head down.
Downloading the app is simple. It's available from both the App Store and the Google Play store, which makes Freddy compatible with the majority of devices. It was a simple process for me to download the app on to my Samsung and pair it with Freddy. From there you will need to answer a range of fifty questions about the child who will play with Freddy most (don't worry if you can't answer, just skip any that aren't relevant), this will allow Freddy to talk to your child about their interests, siblings (interestingly you can only have one brother and one sister so Little E is a girl according to Freddy, LM doesn't seem to mind), their name and birthday.
The app features a range of three different games and interactive stories for your child to explore. The games each have three levels of difficulty so you can tailor them to your child's ability, this allows Freddy to grow with your child and extends the way your child engages with him as they get older. The three games are 'Fish Bowls' - where Freddy asks the child to move a particular fish, 'Sea Puzzle' - complete a jigsaw puzzle - and 'Animal Zoo' - find each animal that Freddy asks for. The levels of difficulty are well thought out and I've found Bud helping his sister if we place it on the more difficult levels. For Sea Puzzle, for example, level one asks for the puzzle to be solved, the second level asks for the puzzle to be solved in the order and the third asks for the child to solve the simple calculation to identify the puzzle piece needed to solve it.
The interactive stories see Freddy read along with the story and your child can tap on various interactive elements to enhance the content. LM's favourite is Goldilocks and the Three Bears and as well as reading the story you can touch each bear's porridge, for example, to hear if it is too hot, too cold or just right. LM can listen to the story and navigate this part of the app without assistance and she loves taking my phone and Freddy off to listen to a story for some quiet time.
I was really keen to see if My Friend Freddy Bear would help LM's speech and, if I'm honest, I'm not sure if it has. His arrival has coincided with a leap forward in her speech and she has improved drastically, I do think this toy has helped to keep the momentum going with her speech and she loves to talk to Freddy and it's so funny to hear her chatting away to him and listening to him.
From my point of view I do find Freddy's accent a little strange. He speaks quite slowly and in a very clipped way, presumably this is to allow his interactive elements, but neither of my oldest two children mind this and Bud hasn't commented on it at all. I can imagine LM continuing to play with Freddy for some time to come, she's only at the lower level of difficulty on the games and I will enjoy seeing her move to the harder levels as she makes progress. The app is both parent and child friendly and he's been played with on a daily basis since LM got over her initial fear of him. The request to 'play Freddie's game' is a regular one here.
My Friend Freddy Bear looks set to be one of the big toys for Christmas 2015 and we think that this is well deserved, he offers a fun way of offering interactive and educational learning to toddlers onwards. We would recommend him. He's available from all usual stockists with an RRP of £39:99. The accompanying app is free to download.