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Reading Software Reviews

JumpStart 1st Grade Reading
Knowledge Adventure

For Ages 5 to 7

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
JumpStart 1st Grade Reading Screen Shot PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

Description
Attractive, cartoon-quality animation and an engaging carnival theme make JumpStart 1st Grade Reading one that early readers will look forward to experiencing. The adventure begins as Frankie, an erstwhile circus dog, learns that his old friends and fellow performers are in need of his help. The unfriendly magician Mel was fired by the circus ringleader, and in a resentful rage turned the other entertainers into a picture puzzle. He then complicated matters by hiding the puzzle pieces throughout the carnival.

To find the pieces and rescue the performers, the student, as Frankie's accomplices, must play a number of carnival games that help build crucial reading skills. Successfully completed games are rewarded with carnival tickets, and these tickets can then be exchanged for clues leading to the discovery of a piece of the puzzle. Mastering this mission is clearly an involved process, and much reading comprehension and skill building must take place before the pieces fall into place and the user reigns supreme.

Educational Value
As a 1st grade reading program, Jump Start 1st Grade Reading assumes a fairly high level of pre- and early reading competency. This program does not attempt to teach letter recognition, or letter sounds, but rather addresses more complex reading skills such as consonant blending, vowel sounds, spelling, identifying synonyms, antonyms, and rhyming words, increasing vocabulary and building sentences. Each activity features three difficulty levels, and the levels generally progress from working with 3-letter words to mastering the same skills with 5-letter words.

JumpStart 1st Grade Reading features tutorial aid to provide instruction when a child is having difficulty with a certain skill. When it becomes apparent, through repeated failure, that a student is not understanding a concept, Frankie introduces his informational notebook. This section actually explains to the child the specific skill being used (for example, it might explain the short 'a' sound or the meaning of "consonant blend"), and provides an example.

Also included with the program is a printable workbook that reinforces the reading skills being utilized with fun and creative away-from-the-computer activities.

Kid Appeal
The delightfully animated characters and scenes make JumpStart 1st Grade Reading a sure-fire winner with the targeted age-range. Games and activities appeal to children of either gender. The more arcade-like games are never frustrating, as slow or ineffectual reflexes result in silly rather than dire consequences. The many levels of play assure that the program will be able to challenge the more proficient as well as novice early-readers.

The "1st-grade" label simply refers to the curriculum that the program follows. Slightly older student-reviewers equally enjoyed the program while strengthening their previously mastered skills.

Ease of Install / Use
This program installed without difficulty on our reviewers PC platforms. Program navigation was never a problem, and printable progress reports are easy to access and simple to understand.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Not to be confused with a preschool or kindergarten-level reading program, Jump Start 1st Grade provides a fun and attractive way for the developing reader to practice reading skills and increase language understanding and proficiency.

Education 4.6/5.0 Kid Appeal 4.8/5.0 Ease of Use 4.9/5.0
5=Excellent, 4=Good, 3=OK, 2=Weak

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1, Windows 95 System 7.1 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 486DX2 66 or higher 68040 40 MHz or Power PC processor
Hard Drive Space 15 MB 15 MB
Memory (RAM) Win 3.1--8 MB, Win95--16 MB 8 MB
Graphics SVGA 256-color graphics adapter 256 color graphics capability
CD-ROM Speed Double-speed Double-speed
Audio MPC-compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs none 13" or larger monitor

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