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Join Frankie and the JumpStart gang for a crazy buggy race in JumpStart Ville. Before the race, complete a variety of learning games to earn power boosters to give your buggy an extra edge: magneto rings, energy blast, sparkle shield, turbo boost and super stilts. Five carrots earn a power booster; you can win carrots by completing activities with the JumpStart All Stars. Enter the kindergarten classroom to read stories with Eleanor, paint with Kisha and learn about music with Pierre. Just outside the classroom, Frankie will help you sound out words, Hops-A-Lot and the fizzy pop tree will provide some counting practice, and CJ and Edison will introduce you to the garden. You may select the activities in any order you choose. When you are ready to add some power boosters to your buggy, take a hot air balloon ride to Hops-A-Lot’s workshop. Then, use your stilt wheels, magneto rings and sparkle shields to collect scattered treasures in one of five race arenas (King’s Castle, Jungle Adventure, Pirate’s Isle, Candy Land, Sports Town).
As in other programs in the JumpStart family, players may take an assessment test prior to beginning play to determine appropriate levels of difficulty for a variety of skills. Each activity (with the exception of art with Kisha) offers three levels of play.
JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten is packed with practical skills for young children. Although some math, science, art and music activities are included, the emphasis is on language acquisition. Players develop pre-reading skills through event sequencing and word matching as Eleanor reads stories aloud. Rhyming words are also a focus of this activity. Clicking on the alphabet banner hanging in the classroom reveals pop-up images of objects beginning with the various letters; the JumpStart gang says the name of the letter and the name of the object. A click on the mobile begins a chorus of the “ABC Song”. Outside the classroom, Frankie helps players sound out words one letter at a time. This activity helps foster letter recognition and word recognition, in addition to developing familiarity with word families and with basic phonics and spelling conventions.
The math, science and music learning games are also well designed and age-appropriate. Players work on basic addition and subtraction skills (using the numbers 0-10) with Hops-A-Lot, finding sums and differences using bottles of fizzy pop. In the garden, players use seeds from five different types of flowers to complete patterns begun by CJ and Edison; the number of plant types used varies by level from 2-4. In the critter search, players find and compare two of the same species of differing size. CJ provides informative facts about each critter.
It often seems that the art and music activities found in the JumpStart programs are included simply to make the application appear comprehensive and well rounded, although these tasks may not be terribly effective. This is true of the drawing and painting activity with Kisha; players simply fill in line drawings of buggies with various colors. However, the music lesson with Pierre is truly informative. Pierre and his band take users on a brief musical tour of classical, jazz and rock music. Not only are different styles of music introduced, but also a wide variety of instruments. By clicking on an instrument, a user may hear the sound of that instrument playing alone. In the more advanced levels, players distinguish musical instruments by sound as well as differences in musical patterns.
JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten , like other programs in the JumpStart family, offers tips to players from its All-Stars, each one representing a different learning style (The Wordsmith, The Artist, The Athlete, The Musician, The Math Whiz, The People Person, The Explorer). When signing on, players answer a series of questions about their likes, dislikes and abilities; the All-Stars Match-Up Quiz then recommends an All-Star with the same dominant learning style as the child. By clicking on the gold star icon in the lower right corner of the screen, a player can access the All-Star walkie-talkie for helpful hints. If the Tutor Mode is activated, the walkie-talkie automatically offers assistance after two consecutive incorrect answers.
The enthusiasm and diversity of the JumpStart All-Stars certainly appeal to a wide range of kids. The JumpStart adventures tend to be constructed around kid-friendly themes; this one, about the JumpStart Ville buggy race, is no exception. Additionally, this application seems particularly well suited to its targeted age group. All of the instructions are given orally, a necessary feature for those just developing reading and pre-reading skills. Also, the program includes a variety of activities, but not an overwhelming number. They are centrally located and easy to access, either inside the classroom or just outside the classroom. The activities are simultaneously fun and meaningful.
The JumpStart programs seem to be designed primarily for home use. However, as this quest is a rather short one and the activities are “meaty”, JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten could be used in a classroom or computer lab setting. Of course, the assessment test is always a quick, useful tool for teachers.
The program is easy to install and uninstall, and program navigation is very straightforward. Instructions are spoken prior to each challenge. There is an on-disc manual with helpful information, but it is difficult to access mid-game. The activities are designed so that most young children should be able to use the application without adult supervision. The only difficulty our testers encountered was in selecting power boosters for their buggies.
JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten is a well-designed program, packed with practical activities applicable to a typical kindergarten curriculum (sequencing, word building, phonics, patterning, comparing/contrasting, addition, subtraction). The buggy race theme, clever power boosters, colorful graphics and interesting characters help to make learning fun.
PC: Windows 98 or better, Pentium 233 MHz processor, 64 MB of RAM, 16-bit color, 640 x 480 screen resolution, Windows-compatible sound card, 12x CD-ROM, 100 MB hard disk space.return to top of page
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