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Scout Makes Phonics Fun

28 Sep, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

The learning puppy and his friends’ ventures to ‘Phonics Farm’ educate preschoolers in the process

LeapFrog sidekick Scout, the playful green dog featured in various games, books and products, takes center stage in LeapFrog: Phonics Farm, which Lionsgate and LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. will release Nov. 8 on DVD ($14.98).

Scout, along with his pals Violet, Eli and Penny, teaches the 26 letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make, which is a critical step in helping children ages 2 to 5 understand phonics. The animated pets take educational joyrides in their magical toy car Axle, including an adventure to an enchanted farm filled with special animals and encounters with an alligator, seal and horse with which they become friends.

“What we’re really excited about in terms of Phonics Farm and the new characters that we’re introducing is that it adds an even stronger relationship with the characters of LeapFrog,” said Michael Rathauser, SVP of marketing with Lionsgate.

Lionsgate first introduced Scout as the pet of frog characters Tad and Lily in two LeapFrog DVDs that streeted earlier this year. However, Scout plush toys have been on the market since 2009.

Within three years, the Scout & Friends brand has grown from a couple of toys to a collection of more than 20 products, with sales of these items earning more than $100 million, Rathauser said, adding that his 3-year-old daughter, Sofia, and year-old son, Nicholas, are fond of their Violet and Scout stuffed animals.

“The Scout character has developed into the core toy on the LeapFrog side for preschoolers,” he added. “… There’s a lot of learning that comes from these toys, but it’s done in such a way that it actually feels like personal learning, because most of these toys are interactive toys.”

For instance, when the Scout plush toy is turned on, he says the name of the child who owns him. Parents also can download their child’s favorite songs into the toy.

“Inherently, because it is a puppy, there’s this emotional attachment to the characters that we think is going to take the relationship that not only parents have, but that kids have with LeapFrog DVDs, to a whole new level,” Rathauser said.

“With that in mind, we thought this was a great opportunity to capitalize on the clear affinity that parents and kids have for this character and bring new entertainment around Scout,” he added.

Phonics Farm — also available as a digital download and On Demand — is the first in a series of DVDs featuring Scout, which Lionsgate plans to release next year. Also slated for launch this fall are an iPhone app and two more Scout toys.

Bonus material includes three sing-along songs, a music video for “Being a Puppy (The Scout Song),” A Surprise for Scout storybook and a curriculum guide for parents.

“We’ve been nothing short of amazed at the relationship that parents have with the LeapFrog brand overall,” Rathauser said. “LeapFrog is in a unique position in the marketplace. Parents really trust LeapFrog on the educational side, they really see the learning benefits LeapFrog products bring, and they do it in a way that’s really fun for their kids.”

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