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Early Learning Software Reviews

Fisher-Price Ready for School - Toddler Edition
from Davidson

For Ages 18 months to 3 years

Also see SuperKids'


Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot Macintosh Performa 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

Description
As the title indicates, this program was created for toddlers, the youngest group of computer users. Updated versions of the Fisher-Price Little People, stout little girls and boys with winning personalities, lead the user on a learning odyssey. Clearly, children at the younger end of the toddler age-range will need the help of an adult or older child when first exposed to the program. Because of its simple design, however, older toddlers will be able to enjoy the program unaided.

"Come with me, let's have fun," entreat the ten Little People featured on the main screen of the program. Upon choosing a character to begin with, the toddler is launched on a mini-adventure. The two levels of simple yet stimulating activities focus on discovery. In some cases mouse clicks are simply the catalyst for a lesson that unfolds unsolicited. For example, in Level 1 of the alphabet activity, hitting any key on the keyboard will produce the next letter in the alphabet, regardless of the key pressed. At other times correct responses are required to complete the activity. In the numbers activity, the user is asked to help the character clean up his room, by picking up the requested number of objects, like 2 shoes, 3 balls, etc. Incorrect responses generate a hint or repeat of the directions.

Activities include such toddler favorites as blowing bubbles, naming and isolating body parts, cleaning up a room using counting skills, listening to animal sounds, creating pictures with a beginning paint program, and traversing a maze.

Ease of Install / Use
The program installed instantly on our reviewers' Mac test machine, installing a folder in less than 2 seconds. It also installed without difficulty on Windows 95.

Educational Value
Intended for the youngest of users, this program addresses basic language skills, beginning letter recognition, early counting, and familiarization with the computer. Much of it is patterned after daily interactions that youngsters in this age-range tend to have with parents and caregivers. At level 1, the program can be likened to a computer version of the "busy-box". Level 2 teaches simple pointing and clicking, and correct responses elicit pleasant and consistent feedback.

Kid Appeal
The Fisher-Price Little People appeal to young users in predictable ways. Colorful, large and bright, they fill the screen with pleasing visuals. Characters include perennial favorites, from clowns and cowboys, to doctors and firemen. Childish voices invite, giggle and smile. Also included are well-loved parts of the toddler's ever enlarging world: animals, instruments, toys, bubbles, and balloons.

Best for... Bottom-line
This program is a nice introduction to the computer for a very young child, especially one who sees siblings and parents utilizing computers every day and wants to develop his or her own personal rapport with them. The activities cover a wide range of beginning education concepts that all parents will find valuable.

Educational Value 5/5, Kid Appeal 4.5/5, Ease of Use 4.5/5

Also see SuperKids'



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1x, Win95 System 7.1 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 or faster 68040 or PowerPC
Hard Drive Space 5 MB 8 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 12 MB
Graphics 256-color SVGA video card 256 color display
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Windows-compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs


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