Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Sis is an updated variation of the teaching plush animals that all of our kids have used and loved over the last many years. She is adored by our kids and has some characteristics that make me appreciate her even more than our other similar products. First..this plush teaching toy has so many phrases, songs and responses that the instruction manual doesn't even try to cover them! You essentially need to just play with the puppy to see/hear what she will do for various interactions. Each sensor follows the same pattern of responses, but there are so many options to choose while playing, that our kids are constantly hearing new songs and expressions.
Next, the volume control settings (of which there are 2) are terrific! The low is actually a nice, gentle volume level that is enjoyed by our little ones and is unobtrusive enough to chatter/sing while we drive or while I'm doing things around the house. We actually don't need to switch it to the loud setting, unless there is a lot of background noise. For our family, the loud setting is a bit too loud for most scenarios. The switch for volume control (and power) is actually hard to move/slide, which is one of my favorite aspects!! Our kids ages 3 and up love to increase the volume on toys when they know how. This switch is too stiff for them to slide on their own (perfection!).
Smart Stages Sis' ears offer tactile stimulation with their satin-y underside and soft plush top (accented with adorable bows). But her right ear (labeled "Ear") contains a sensor so she will respond when that ear is squeezed. She also has sensors in all 4 paws and, of course, with her heart button.
The heart button, "hands" and ear are the easiest for our 7 month old to activate, but the "feet" for some reason take a little more dexterity. Sis' left foot is exclusively for cycling through the various "levels" Sis offers (level 1, 2, 3) and when pressed and held for a 4th time, it turns Sis off. Note that in this "off" mode, it is more of a "standby" setting, as she will awaken when any sensor is depressed. If you want to turn her off entirely, you must use the sliding switch on the back with the volume control...and as I mentioned earlier, it is stiff. This means when I turn off the puppy, my "helpful" toddler can't turn it back on by pressing any of the sensors. Blissfully, even though they know the volume switch is there, they aren't strong enough to slide it.
When our overly-eager baby grabbed Sis with some teething biscuit still on his hands, I simply used a baby wipe to clean her up and she looks as good as new!
For a teaching plush, we love Smart Stages Sis' voice! It does sometimes get a bit shrill, more so at the end of certain songs and such, but for the most part, her voice is extremely sweet and clear! We also absolutely LOVE the material she teaches and our kids have so much fun singing along with her! This is a fantastic toy for babies through preschool years at least! [This review was collected as part of a promotion.]