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First, let's clarify a point of possible confusion. Sesame Street Toddler from Encore Software is not the same as Sesame Street Toddler Deluxe, an earlier program from Creative Wonders. They share a common title, common characters from the well-known PBS series, and a common subject -- but they are different programs. Don't ask us why...
The program starts with a silly little intro with Big Bird, apparently having technical difficulties with the production set. After getting past this, the user signs in, and picks from six subject choices on the main menu: shapes and colors, letters, numbers, people in the neighborhood, sounds, or a simple drawing program. Each of these subjects in turn, offers a series of four or five progressive activities. For example:
Colors and shapes: Big Bird asks your child to put the cursor (here a star) on a blob on the screen to hear what color it is, or click elsewhere to get another color. After mastering color identification, and learning basic mouse skills, the user can then move on with Elmo for another color game. In this step of the progression, the user is asked to find a specific color and click on it. Comments from our parents included: "Lots of reinforcement and positive feedback .. Very interactive. Very basic. A little slow-paced." Maybe so, but these are important pre-kindergarten skills. If the user does well, the program adjusts the difficulty level to objects with color, rather than just blobs of color. This allows them to learn to differentiate object and color names. Additional exercises include: finding a specific color from among three choices; identifying and recognizing different shape names, and combining colors and shapes. Overall, our reviewers felt that this subject was covered pretty exhaustively.
The other subjects were covered in a similar manner. Our reviewers felt that the key subjects, Letters and Numbers, were of the same excellent caliber as Colors and Shapes.
This program's origin in the Sesame Workshop is clearly evident. Every aspect of the program seems to have an educational angle, with a strong and appropriate focus on basic skills. Coverage includes: colors and shapes, numbers and counting, letter and sound identification, and sorting and grouping. Each of these subjects offers several different activities, with some auto-leveling evident during our testing. The program gives lots of positive reinforcement, and encouragement.
Our young testers enjoyed Sesame Street Toddler Learning Basics. The combination of familiar characters and voices using their names, with the chance to use mommy or daddy's computer was irresistible.
Sesame Street Toddler Learning Basics is a two CD set. Installation was simple with the caveat that both CDs must be installed, even though the installer screen on the first disk doesn't prompt the user to insert the second disk. After installing the second disk, the user can select the 'play' option, but a better choice would be to take advantage of the option to customize the program with your child's name. (Up to six names can be input). This step only takes a couple of minutes, including disk swapping time, but is well worth it to see your child's response when they hear their name spoken by Sesame Street characters throughtout the program.
Program navigation is reasonably intuitive. Our review team noted some frustration in that the cursor is not active when a character is talking. This makes it impossible to go back, skip to another section of the program, or exit, until the character finishes what they're saying.
In most cases, caregivers will want to use Sesame Street Toddler Learning Basics with their child, to ensure understanding and provide approval and live positive feedback. Older children or those with some computer experience and moderate mouse control ability, may be able to enjoy the program on their own after some initial help.
Sesame Street Toddler Learning Basics is a solid introductory skills program for toddlers and pre-kindergarten age children. It covers the basics expected of most entering kindergartners, using a wide variety of age appropriate methods.
PC: Windows 95/98/ME/2000, 266 MHz or faster cpu, 28 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, 16-bit color display, 8X or faster CD-ROM, Windows-compatible sound card, standard keyboard and mouse.return to top of page
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