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Review CornerSoftware
Adventure Workshop 1st-3rd Grade (4th Edition)
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Kids will spend quality time at the computer with this set of programs that is best for its open-ended opportunities to develop thinking skills through creative play. Excellent!
Award
Ages: 7-10   Subject: Math/Logic   Brand: The Learning Company/Riverdeep
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
This valuable bundle contains three previously-released software programs designed for children ages 5-9:
  • Thinkin' Things: Toony the Loon's Lagoon
  • Kid Pix Studio Deluxe
  • Curious George Reads, Writes, & Spells

Thinkin' Things: Toony the Loon's Lagoon is a fantastic program that truly gets kids thinking as they create and play. This program is outstanding! Children play any of six activities set in a jungle. Our favorite abtivity in terms of both appeal and educational value is "Flying Shapes" in which children create designs that can be animated. Children place shapes and forms onto a board, apply different movements to the shapes, and end up with a unique moving design. They can add music to their creations and save their work. This activity involves some planning and discovery as children attempt to create intriguing designs. In other activities, kids make "feathered friends" according to different variables and attributes, repeat notes and create music on a xylophone, fill orders for "fripples to go" according to customers' requests, and more. An option in the music activity makes it stand out from similar activities found in many software programs—kids can choose to repeat musical note sequences in the light or in the dark! If they choose "dark", they can only hear the music sequences, which is a truly valuable exercise in listening skills. In the fripples activity, kids need to use logic in order to fill the customers' requests. For example, they might need to choose a fripple (an unusual but endearing little creature) based on a sentence like: "Purple or straight hair, but not both", or, "spots and straight hair, not green". As levels advance in the activity, the customers become more particular with their requests.

Although it's not the latest edition in the series, Kid Pix Studio Deluxe remains a revered program that allows children to create art on the computer in fun and clever ways. Plenty of open-ended play opportunities are present, and projects and templates are also available for more structured activities. A nice variety of tools are featured that allow kids to create and animate artwork.

In Curious George Reads, Writes, & Spells, the familiar little trouble-making monkey becomes a cub reporter and is assigned to a breaking story. Through a series of episodes, a fun story unravels and kids play 12 activities that build spelling, reading, and writing skills along the way. Each of the 12 episodes contains a few story pages, then an activity. Many are arcade style, such as the maze game in which kids must spell a word like "fabric" by directing Curious George through a maze and selecting the correct letters in the right order to spell the word. Another activity involves rearranging lettered flowerpots on a wagon to correctly spell a spoken word. Children complete sentences and "write" two printable news articles. Parental options allow for some customization of spelling words. The program combines reading, writing, vocabulary, and spelling practice together with an interesting story line. Keep in mind that most of the activities require a child to correctly choose letters to spell words, and some involve placing words into the context of a story. Many of the games are variations on the same idea, and some are arcade-style, which many young children in the suggested age group will appreciate.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/Me/XP, Pentium 166 MHz, 16 MB RAM, 27 MB of hard drive space, and 4X CD-ROM. Mac users require a PowerMac Power PC 10 MHz or faster, System 8.6-9.2.2, 16 MB RAM, 30 MB of hard drive space, and 4X CD-ROM.

Skills Covered
Problem solving, creativity, prediction, planning, logical thinking, spelling, reading, writing.

Educational Value
The Thinkin' Things CD-ROM in the set is an invaluable program for building children's thinking skills through creative play. Few programs are as successful at exercising children's thinking skills! The Curious George title offers more straightforward academic content that is best for reinforcing facts rather than teaching kids new skills.

Entertainment Value
Children who enjoy free-play activities that allow them to create will be most entertained by this set of programs.

Design
Younger children in the suggested age group may need a helping hand from a grown-up to get started, but children will quickly grow accustomed to each program's unique interface.

Replayability
Open-ended creativity activities are featured in two of the programs in the set, creating strong replay value that is only limited by a child's interest level.

Dollar Value
The program carries a suggested retail price of approximately $19.99 US.

Released: 2003
Reviewed: July 2003