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spacer all reviews > > > multisubject elementary school software

Elementary Advantage 2002

Encore Software

Ages 7 to 11

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

Elementary Advantage Screen Shot arrow indentSystem Requirements

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Elementary Advantage 2002 by Encore Education, is a six CD set which encompasses 10 subjects: grammar, spelling, reading, writing, social studies, basic math, fractions, geography, science, and beginning typing. In addition, the set includes Simon& Schuster's New Millennium Children's Encyclopedia. This package is a collection of several, older, well-established programs and a few lesser knowns. The social studies program is an early version of The Oregon Trail by MECC, reading and spelling are Super Solvers Spellbound! and Super Solvers Reading (The Learning Company) programs, and grammar is covered by The Learning Company's Word Munchers. The writing, typing, and math portion of Elementary Advantage 2002 are EasyBook Deluxe, Type for Fun!, Fraction Attraction and Awesome Animated Monster Maker NumberDrop, all by Sunburst. World Explorer Deluxe and The Way Things Work 2.0 by DK Interactive Learning, provide the geography and science segments. The Way Things Work, Word Munchers, and The Oregon Trail, have been reviewed previously by SuperKids, so our comments here will briefly focus on the remaining programs.

EasyBook Deluxe provides a simple format for beginning writers to type up and illustrate their stories, reports, or reviews. It provides simple layouts for covers, title pages, interior text for beginning writing projects. It has a small selection of backgrounds and pictures organized according to themes (food, people, special occasions, etc.) which can be easily used by children not quite ready for the complexities of Microsoft Word. Fonts, colors, spellchecker (don't print without it!), and other basic tools to give a polished layout are easily accessed by young school children using EasyBook Deluxe.

World Explorer Deluxe provides a pictorial world map. Users click picture icons (e.g. the Eiffel Tower) on the map to for closer views and to discover where they are and other significant tidbits. It is designed for youthful explorers of the world who sign in by making their passport. For example, click on the pyramids in Egypt and a young voice explains they were "built as tombs for kings and queens of ancient Egypt. The statues of the Sphinx guards the pyramids." Occasionally there is a button to access a 1-2 minute movie of a subject. Explanations are short and sweet. Players can make postcards, collect stickers of different sites, and explore their suitcase.

In Awesome Animated Monster Maker Number Drop players create monsters who catch the dropping meteor with the correct answer (by using the arrow keys) to a number sentence displayed on a cloud. Options are limited. Players could not customize the game to concentrate on addition, subtraction, or other desired process or level although the program's description states that levels progress with proficiency. Meteors may drop too quickly for young kids not adept at doing math in their heads.

Fraction Attraction uses an amusement park motif employing four games: frac-o-wheel, frac track, whack a frac, and fuzzy frac -- to reinforce concepts in fractions or decimals or percentage if you prefer. Players can play the games timed or untimed and there is an analyze option to explain why your answer was wrong.

Type for Fun uses four games like the Galaxy Taxi, Zworg Explore, and Power Up, to practice intergalactic typing skills. Options allow you to concentrate on certain keys and select a primary or advanced level, but the program does not provide basic instruction on finger positioning, posture, etc. It assumes typists have this knowledge. Type for Fun just provides a different, amusing venue to practice your existing skills.

Reading Supersolvers allows users to try to solve a mystery by collecting clues, reading passages and answering questions which provide information useful in their quest.and test their ability to decipher content. Over 200 reading selection are available and a quick click gives definitions for hard words. Levels of difficulty increase with successful completion.

Spelling Supersolver uses an interactive spelling bee to reinforce over 1000 words. It has different drills and activities to reinforce vocabulary and word recognition.

Educational Value

This is a comprehensive package but some of the programs are stronger than others. For example, although the typing program offers several games to practice skills, it does not go through the basics of keyboarding and finger positioning so it is best for children who are bored with practicing the usual games but already have the basic skills down.

The sequence on fractions (which can be switched to percentages or decimals) gives children different amusement park games and simple explanations to convey the concepts effectively through various visual tools (e.g. a pie chart disguised as a Ferris wheel, a racetrack becomes a bar/ruler graphic) as well as repetitive reinforcement drills, but the basic math section was a little uneven and did not offer enough choices to vary the level, speed of response, or the topic being working on.

The Way Things Work is a fascinating program for the curious and mechanically inclined, but users must have strong reading skills or a patient adult exploring with them (actually adults will find it engaging). Simple drawings and explanations give you the basic principles behind complex inventions as well as inventors. The Internet link also provides simple experiments to illustrate basic concepts and features an invention of the month.

The writing portion makes it easy for children to format and illustrate stories but doesn't give any instruction (spell check doesn't count). World Explorer provides a good introduction to the continents and very rudimentary points of interest and facts for the younger elementary set.

Kid Appeal

Elementary Advantage 2002 was designed to appeal to children in grades 3-5. The games are designed to appeal to boys or girls and are quickly paced and varied enough top prevent boredom. The science module is probably more attractive to the older portion of the age spectrum while the geography, reading, writing, spelling, and grammar sections can be used by some 7 or even 6 year olds. It offers material definitely geared for children in elementary school. Most of the components are made to progress to increasing difficulty once mastery of skills is demonstrated.

Ease of Use / Install

On our Windows Me test machine, the installation was easy but you have to go through it with each CD. Our test machine had some difficulty installing the spelling program because it did not automatically reset the color settings on installation and had to be done manually. Navigation through the programs was easy. It does pay to go through the tutorial on the encyclopedia. It was difficult to understand the breadth of what you can do and how to manipulate such programs without doing so. Reference to the written instructions was not necessary.

Best for... / Bottom-Line

This is broad program which does some things well and others OK. If you already have some of the basic components on your computer, like The Oregon Trail or The Way Things Work, you may not find it worthwhile to invest in Elementary Advantage 2002. It offers a broad range of elementary topic coverage. Not all kids need to focus on the same material. Be realistic -- what are your needs? If you would like specific focus in just one area, your needs might be better served by a program which specifically addresses those needs. However, Elementary Advantage 2002 does offer a broad overview and touches the major areas of focus in elementary education.

See SuperKids' Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only title.

System Requirements
PC: Windows® 95/98/ME Pentium® 200MHz 32MB RAM 100 MB hard drive space 4X CD-ROM 800x600 256 color video card 100% 16-bit Windows® compatible sound card.

Reviewed on:
-     Pentium III - 750 running Windows Me, with 128MB RAM and 24x - CD-ROM
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