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.
Nathan’s enthusiasm for “Wock” music has us thinking about a guitar
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.
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.