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Reading Software Reviews

Word Munchers Deluxe
by MECC

For Ages 6 to 11

See also the:
  • Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles,
  • SuperKids Buyers Guide for prices and sources for the PC and Mac versions,
  • and
  • Previous reviews of other Reading software titles.

  • Reviewed on:
    Children's Software Screen Shot PowerMac 6100/60 with 8MB and 2XCD
    Pentium90 with 24MB and a 2XCD

    Content and Methodology
    Word Munchers Deluxe (WMD) is an effective program designed to build confidence in reading, grammar, and vocabulary skills, through a vast number of drills. Based on the proven "Muncher" model (see previous SuperKids review of Math Muncher Deluxe), MECC has this time attacked some of the key components of reading: grammar, phonics, vocabulary, and sentence structure.

    In WMD, the user is presented with a chessboard-like image, with words placed in the squares of the board. These words are possible answers to a question or problem posed at the top of the screen. The objective of the drills is to move a "muncher" (sort of a short version of Gumby) to the squares containing correct answers, and have him/her/it "munch" the answer BEFORE being eaten by a Troggle! The good news here for younger students, is that the Troggle-eating feature can be turned off - we recommend that for all but the most adroit users.

    Winning a round gives the user another muncher. After every three rounds, the program provides a minute or so of comic relief, in the form of an animation similar to one of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle "Fractured Fairie Tales." These include variations on stories like the Wizard of Oz, Humpty Dumpty, and Aladdin.

    The program offers considerable user flexibility. At the outset of each session, the user sets the grade level (1st through 5th), selects a category, and a subcategory focus, if desired. For example, the choices at the first grade level include:

    Category	Subcategory
    Classification:	color, shape, design, class
    Grammar:	naming, action, and describing words
    Phonics:	initial / final consonants, vowels
    Vocabulary:	rhyming words
    Sentences:	[same as Grammar]
    Challenge:	all of the above
    
    Sample questions at this level include things like: "munch the red things," "find the triangles, "eat the water animals," or "find the cones." How much practice does WMD provide? We counted 32 different levels for the first grade classification category alone, before noticing repeats!

    The choices at higher grade levels are similar, but increasingly difficult:

    Category	Subcategory
    Grammar:	nouns, adjectives, verbs, pronouns, adverbs
    		interjections, prepositions
    Phonics:	vowels
    Vocabulary:	synonyms, antonyms
    Sentences:	[same as Grammar]
    Challenge:	all of the above
    

    Here, sample questions include things like: find the synonyms for the word 'mad.' Choices might include the words: offended, serene, furious.

    Ease of Install / Use
    Installation was painless on both our PC and Mac test machines. Ease of use was equally intuitive - a good thing, since the program ships without a printed manual. Instead, users can go to a very brief "Read Me" file on the CD for basic instructions and trouble shooting tips.

    Proxy Parent Value
    Proxy parent value is SuperKids measure of how well a program grabs and holds a user's interest. WMD scored surprisingly well on this measure. We say surprising, because many educators and reviewers criticize titles like this as being "old fashioned, drill-and-kill" programs. In this case, we must disagree. Although WMD does not offer the user much in the way of explanatory teaching, it does provide an exceptional amount of practice material, in a format many children will find captivating.

    Best for...
    WMD is appropriate for a broad range of students, ranging from those just becoming comfortable with reading, to those learning sentence structures at school. With the Troggle-eating feature enabled, it should appeal to the game-oriented; with it disabled, it should be fine for those turned off by video games.

    Bottom-Line
    This is a solid drill program that will provide hours of practice for young readers.


    See also the:
  • Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles,
  • SuperKids Buyers Guide for prices and sources for the PC and Mac versions,
  • and
  • Previous SuperKids reviews of other Reading software titles.


  • Children's Software System Requirements


    PC

    Macintosh
    Operating System Windows 3.1 or higher; win95 System 7.1 or later
    CPU Type and Speed 486/50 or faster 68040 or faster
    Hard Drive Space 0.5MB (min) to 13MB (full) 13MB
    Memory (RAM) 8MB 8MB
    Graphics 256 color SVGA 256 color, 640x480
    CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
    Audio Windows-compatible sound card n/a
    Other Needs Windows-compatible mouse n/a

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