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spacer all reviews > > > problem solving software

Thinkiní Things Sky Island Mysteries

Edmark

Ages 8 to 12

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
4.9
Kid Appeal
4.85
Ease of Use
5.0

Thinkiní Things Sky Island Mysteries Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This ambitious product, from the creators of the Thinkin' Things series, provides children with challenging activities to exercise their minds as it builds important learning skills.

The Sky Islands Festival is bursting with intrigue. Fourteen mysteries require solution, and chief investigator Joe Cluestoe needs additional brainpower to catch the culprits. Clues are disseminated through three island venues, each featuring a unique and challenging activity.

'Air Show Island' features an animated air show that children direct, following detailed instructions and using advanced organization and prioritization skills. On 'Rebus Island', kids solve word puzzles by stringing letters, pictures and sounds together. 'Stadium Island' challenges users to manipulate Fripples, loveable animated friends, so that they will move in certain preplanned ways, given unique sets of rules for each character's behavior.

As clues are earned, the user returns to Clue Central to review the case. Each clue includes information describing the perpetrator's personal traits, hobbies and lifestyle, and narrows the field of suspects until one remains who fits all the criteria. At this point the crime is solved and the user is congratulated for another job well-done.

Educational Value
Although story content makes this program most appropriate for children in the upper grammar-school age range, skills honed by this program are needed, and often lacking in students of all ages. Sky Island Mysteries focuses on logic, communication, multi-tasking, prioritization and other thinking skills. Many of the tasks are not quickly processed and achieved, even by adult helpers, but require patience and persistence as multiple attempts lead the user to deduce correct responses. In particular, the Air Show Island section, although seemingly simple, requires careful organization and prioritization for success.

The user's creative abilities can also be flexed with the program's 'explore' mode of play. Here, students experiment with a wide variety of tools to develop their own puzzles based on the program's activities. This option strengthens concept understanding and computer skills and may pique the interest of a future information-age expert.

Kid Appeal
SuperKids' testers were captivated by the depth of this program. They not only enjoyed solving the many zany mysteries, but immersed themselves in the explore mode, creating their own flight logs and rebuses with enthusiasm.

Our tests indicate that the suggested age-range may be a bit on the young side. Users on the low end of the spectrum tended to become frustrated by some of the more difficult tasks, while students in their early teens (predominantly girls) found them fascinating and enjoyed the playful little Fribbles.

Parents reported that this program worked well as a team endeavor--a plus for families with limited computer resources. "My daughters actually worked on this program together," was one mother's amazed comment. "In our household that's a rarity."

Ease of Use / Install
This program installs without a hitch on Windows 95.

Navigation is organized and straightforward, and help is ever-available. Each activity includes a "tours" option that provides a detailed explanation of the task, and many "hints" that subtly nudge the user in the appropriate direction.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
A gentle wake-up call for the sleeping mind, this program stretches students to the limit in an entertaining and highly rewarding fashion. Varying amounts of supervision may be required for younger or struggling students.

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

System Requirements
PC: Win 3.1, Windows 95 or later, 486 Pentium or better, 66MHz or faster cpu, 7MB free hard drive space, 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), 640x480, 256 color monitor, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, Windows-compatible sound card.

Mac: System 7.0.1 or higher, 68040 or better, or PowerPC, 2 MB free hard drive space, 8 MB RAM, 16 MB for PowerPC, 640x480, 256 color monitor, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM

Reviewed on:

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