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Through games, activities and songs, children explore everyday themes and basic concepts relating to shoes, bugs, and farms with Elmo and his pet Goldfish, Dorothy. Elmo directs the show from his playroom, which provides the main screen where kids choose activities. After selecting from the three main themes of Shoes, Bugs and Farms, children then may select activities under each theme by clicking on different pieces of furniture in Elmo's playroom. The activities are not presented sequentially or in an ordered manner, but they do relate to the chosen theme. Players can always return to the playroom and main screen easily.
Elmo, the popular, red, fuzzy character from Sesame Street, narrates the entire program, which is targeted for 2-5 year olds. Elmo gives instructions and cheerful reminders for navigating. He is friendly and lovable, but his voice can be difficult to understand at times. Articulation is often unclear and sometimes he even uses poor grammar. Nonetheless, some find this character's voice and gestures endearing.
The thematic approach to learning about everyday objects is an effective way of teaching young learners, but this program lacks depth and variety, which limits the learning potential. For example, when a child selects the theme "Shoes", he/she can play a shoe matching game, learn about different types of shoes and their uses, and watch a video clip of a child shopping for shoes. All the themes have a similar format in which animated games and activities are included with real-life movie clips. The activities are paced appropriately for the intended audience, and the themes relate well to a child's everyday learning experience, but there is limited overall variety within the program. Each theme has just a few different games, only four different short movie clips and several email notes for children to enjoy. The learning objective of some of the activities seems unclear. For example, the cute Bug theme provides mouse skills practice and it teaches kids directionality through a maze game with an animated bug character. However, kids don't learn a lot about bugs by doing the activities offered.
Elmo's World's packaging states that it fosters problem solving, critical thinking, imagination, creativity, and discovery skills. The program does not fulfill all of these claims because of the repetition of games and activities and unclear overall goal. The format is not particularly engaging or original and the graphics aren't especially high quality. Although the realistic "field trip" style of the movie clips is very educational, the videos are a little fuzzy. There are no rewards or given learning objectives for completing activities, so children have limited motivation for exploring the entire program.
Elmo's World is an entertaining program for a very young audience and its use of themes for providing learning opportunities is developmentally and educationally sound. However, it lacks the imaginative quality of its supposed strengths.
Elmo is an appealing character for the targeted age level and the use of thematic teaching allows children to make connections and learn more easily. The themes offered on the program are familiar and age appropriate. Kids like the songs and games, but the program is limited in its selections, so kids may not want to use the program over and over again. Two and three year-olds would be more engaged, but the program would lose the interest of 4-5 year olds after a short time. Parents and teachers alike will appreciate the program's ease of use, but the limited learning potential gained using this program would make it an unlikely classroom supplement.
The program can be easily installed. Navigation is simple due to the limited selection within the program and the age targeted. Elmo provides helpful and repeatable instructions and clarification.
Elmo's World - Shoes, Bugs and Farms provides entertainment and some learning experiences for the very young child through the use of themes directed by the well-loved Elmo. Children ages 2-3 would enjoy the program more than 4-5 year olds. There is some opportunity for exploration for the very young, but it doesn't provide practice with the skills of problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.
PC: Windows 95/98/Me/2000, Pentium 166 MHZ, 20MB free hard disk space, 8X CD-ROM drive, 16-bit color monitor (thousands of colors) with 640 X 480 resolution, 32 MB RAM, Windows compatible sound card, mousereturn to top of page
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