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Children's Software Review of:
JumpStart Kindergarten & JumpStart 1st Grade

 

Laura Horansky is a part-time working Mom with much less computer prowess than her children, Julia (eight), Sophia (six) and Nathan (four). Thanks to Dad, our resident program installer.

From the May, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Because many schools use a variety of JumpStart programs as teaching tools, our two school-aged kids were familiar with some of the characters and graphics. We checked out the “All New Advanced Edition” of both JumpStart Kindergarten and JumpStart 1st Grade.

Julia is in the second grade and was not challenged by games of either program but recognized that many more games were available with the first-grade edition and found entertainment in both the Kindergarten’s freestyle Paint and Draw game and the 1st Grade’s Music Studio. She was also an asset in helping little brother Nathan (almost four) stay on task collecting multiple carrots necessary to build a race car with “souped up” accessories and super power in the Kindergarten version. However, our keyboard took some beatings when our little guy faced Fun with Phonics. He just couldn’t find the fun. He also needed some guidance with the Science Skills and Math Made Easy games. It took a few tries before Nathan was comfortable in the reading room. As with most of the games, try again was absolutely necessary at Nathan’s level. But he turned maestro with Music Lessons, navigating with ease through the different styles of music, accumulating multiple carrots and finally finding his groove with the electric guitar. Cartoon-character 
rock band Nathan’s enthusiasm for “Wock” music has us thinking about a guitar for the lad. “The bunny’s cool,” was his observation.

The customized race car theme was also a little boy’s dream come true. Though it was slow-going for Nathan to control his car with the arrow keys (he’d move forward, stop, change directions, move forward again, stop, etc) he enjoyed powering his racecar through the castle kingdom collecting the sparkling gems necessary to advance.

Sophie, our Kindergarten student, was best matched for both Kinder and 1st Grade programs. Her favorite game and favorite JumpStart character quickly became the scientist who conducted the Science Fair. She found the perfect application of her recent school lesson in sorting animals into categories at the Science Fair. Though Sophie hasn’t studied fractions yet in school, dividing up ingredients at the Pizza Parlor enlisted visuals to reinforce the message and she was able to fill enough pizza orders to gain the dog bones necessary to build her flashy scooter. Pizza Parlor As Sophie pointed out, “You don’t really have to know about fractions to play. I like the voices—they help you out.”

Overall, the scooter suited Sophie better than the racecar of Kindergarten. She also enjoyed tinkering with different musical instruments in the Music Studio to create lots of sounds.

Graphics have come a long way since our first JumpStart Pre-K program available for Windows 95! Hooray for JumpStart’s characters who repeat the next game move with Doris Day enthusiasm and consistency that no parent could ever offer in real life. There are also atta-boys aplenty to ensure forward motion for the player and a sense of achievement.


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