Although Fisher-Price Ready for School - Kindergarten is similar to other multi-subject ready-for-school programs on the market, its content is presented through a series of refreshingly unique activities. Each activity is an isolated experience, so there is no goal or predetermined quest to follow. The user simply chooses intriguing activities and plays.
The brightly animated town of "Kinderville" is filled with ten friendly-looking buildings, each one representative of the activity that resides within. Each of these activities includes multiple variations and/or mini-activities. A few examples include: J.J.'s Hop, where a click on the jukebox produces an alliterative tune for each letter of the
alphabet; Concert Hall, in which bell-ringing cows and maraca shaking crocodiles perform in different combinations, testing the child's number and counting skills; Clara's Calendar Corner, which features a calendar that not only teaches about the months and seasons, but can be personalized and printed; Post Office, in which packages must be matched and sorted according to size, shape and color;
Sandy's Snack Shop, where the user learns to count, add, and subtract as s/he fills orders for Kinderville
residents, and Design Depot, which challenges the user with games and puzzles, including one that resembles a computerized colorforms game.
Also included with this program are on-screen and paper workbooks, and a parent's video guide addressing school readiness and related topics in an easy to access format.
Ready for School exposes the child to 30 skill areas covered by a typical kindergarten curriculum.
In addition to the basics such as numbers and counting, the alphabet and letter recognition, memory skills and problem solving, the program attempts to teach everyday safety tips, courtesy and manners and telephone etiquette.
Although some of the activities in Fisher-Price Ready for School - Kindergarten look uninvitingly similar to those
found in all programs of this type, there are some that are quite unique, and interest
and challenge even the most experienced of users. Graphics are pleasant, and colors
are attractive and differ from the standard primary colors in eye-pleasing ways.
The program features an abundance of music and singing, making it especially beneficial
for children who are auditory learners, as well as those who like to sing-a-long.
Unfortunately, with the exception of the musical cows and crocs, the program's characters
have little personality, and almost seem like an afterthought. Their lack of warmth
and charm is one of the programs major weaknesses, as is the overall lack of allure needed to make it a hands-down winner.
Ease of Use / Install
The program installed easily on Windows 95. QuickTime for Windows, Video for Windows, and Acrobat Reader are required to fully utilize the entire program, and can be installed from Disc 1 along with the program itself.
Exiting the main screen posed a problem for our reviewers, as it is not obvious to the user. Finally, upon consulting the manual, CTRL Q or ALT F4 were found to be preferred exit commands.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
This program is best for a child who lacks the motivation needed to sustain the more goal-oriented programs available in this category. Each section of the program can be accessed and played alone -- prescribed movement through the program is not required. Overall, Ready for School may not prove to be an all-time favorite, but it is certain to educate and entertain.