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SuperKids Software Review - The Parent's and Teacher's Guide to Childrens' Software
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Reader Rabbit's Preschool

The Learning Company

Ages 3 to 5

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

REader Rabbit's Preschool Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This is a renamed and slightly updated version of Let's Start Learning, a program we previously reviewed and liked. Now part of The Learning Company's Reader Rabbit series of multi-subject, early-education programs, this animated, upbeat program takes the user on a quest to earn the four keys that will unlock and free Wonder Pony, a carousel horse who, with help, becomes real. To earn the keys, the child must master 4 levels of easy to understand and complete, skill-building activities. The 4th level, in this instance, is not the most difficult, but rather the most creative of the 4 levels, allowing the child to take concepts learned in the first 3 levels, and experiment and create with them. Each activity is filled with lovable characters, lively dancing and child-pleasing music.

The core of the program consists of four activities: Counting Club, in which the user practices beginning number recognition and counting skills; Shape Shack, where the user sorts shapes based on one or more like features; ABC Diner, where letter and letter-sound recognition is practiced resulting in kooky concoctions; and Pattern Parade, which focuses on repetitive pattern conceptualization.

New to this updated version of the program are a pseudo "Where's Waldo" section; virtual paper dolls; a 'build a body' section (with Arno Moose, the zany Schwartzeneger-esque Master of Ceremonies); and a zoom-in scene that allows the child to view a scene with different perspectives. Each of these projects encourages exploration and discovery.

Educational Value
Not only does this program provide a good early computer experience, engendering positive feelings toward computers in general, but it also introduces important prereading and early math concepts, paving the way for successful learning in the years to come. Most importantly, the program stresses the importance of investigation and discovery, without which learning becomes rote and imaginations stifled.

Kid Appeal
The friendly, engaging characters in this program appealed to SuperKids reviewers of both sexes, although girls were especially drawn to the carousel horse theme. Children well beyond the given age range (and well into their school years) enjoyed playing the program, suggesting that its usefulness is not confined to preschool years. Wrong answers are dealt with in an entirely non-threatening way, making even the most timid child anxious to make an attempt at solving problems posed. "My daughter played this program continuously for 3 1/2 hours!" related one parent reviewer, "she needed only two more keys when I told her to quit for the day."

Ease of Use / Install
The program installed easily on our test Mac machine, and without problems on Windows 95.

The manual or "handbook" not only explains the program itself, which for the most part is easy to use and requires no explanation, but also provides insights into the educational bases for each included activity. Song lyrics can be found in the appendix.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This preschool program contains much to educate and entertain the young mind. With excellent graphics and upbeat charm, it is a good bet for almost any young child.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other Preschool software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.1, Win95, 486DX/33 or faster (66 MHz recommended), 2 MB hard drive space, 8 MB RAM, 256-color SVGA display, 2X or faster CD-ROM, Windows-compatible sound card, mouse

Mac: System 7.0.1 or higher, 68040/25 or faster cpu, 1 MB hard drive space, 8 MB RAM, 13" 256-color display, 2X or faster CD-ROM, mouse

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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