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Review CornerSoftware
Arthur's 1st Grade
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
With age-appropriate and fun learning activities, as well as a positive theme that encourages adopting a helpful spirit, this program provides hours of fun and education that children — and their parents — will appreciate.
Award
Ages: 5-7  Subject: Curriculum  Brand: The Learning Company
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Part of the LearningBuddies line, this program boasts 50+ activities covering a full first grade curriculum.

There are 2 CD-ROMs in this package — the first one is entitled Disc 1: Bionic Bunny's Contest, and teaches essential first grade skills. Arthur and his friends are participating in Bionic Bunny's "Good Deeds Contest" and are searching for good deeds to do in the community. During this quest, kids play the following learning activities:

  • In Binky's Crossing, children look for patterns and sequences as they help Binky and a friend cross the stream. Players use the down arrow on the keyboard to make the characters hop along the rocks at the right time.
  • It's a pattern and strategy game in Go for Baby Kate. Arthur is helping out his mother by babysitting his baby sister Kate. Children choose one or two players, and then compete to be the first one to get across the rug that is filled with shapes of varying colors and patterns. They must listen to clues, which get progressively more complicated at higher difficulty levels. For example, on level 3, a clue might be "go to the shape that has stripes and is red and is a star."
  • In Mr. Grumpbone's Walk, old Mr. Grumpbone needs reminding of where he wants to visit. Kids must choose words that help describe things that Mr. Grumpbone is thinking about. On level 1, for example, kids must choose a word that best describes a pig from the following word cards: "leafy, fat, quacking".
  • Kids help Mr. Gumdrop to wrap candy at his store in Francine's Sweet Measure. Wrapping paper must be measured according to Mr. Gumdrop's instructions, and players must pull out the wrapping paper to the desired length. On level 1, for example, the paper might be pulled to the length of 2 gingerbread cookies, and on level 3, to 1-1/2 cookies.
  • Kids learn phonics in Brain's Pronouncing Machine while helping fix Brain's dictation machine. Children fill in the beginning, middle, or ending sounds in words (depending on the level of difficulty).
  • In Grandma Thora's Quilt, D.W. needs help finding the correct letters to complete the words on a quilt. Kids fill in the missing letters to spell lots of words.
  • Picking up litter is fun when you make a game out of it! In World's End Clean-Up, kids play a math game either against Arthur or a real-life friend. They must choose the correct answer to basic addition and subtraction equations from the choices in the magnifying glasses in order to advance along the walk. At certain points in between activities, there is a map game in which children must help Arthur navigate the streets of his town to find one of his friends according to clues. For example, a clue might be "I'm going to take a ride". If children steer Arthur to the Boat Rentals building, a new clue will pop up that reads "The rides I'm on aren't on water." At this point, children might deduce that Arthur's friend is at the Amusement Park.

    The second CD-ROM is Disc 2: Activity Center and contains 3 activity areas designed for extra creative play:

  • In Storybook Maker, kids choose cover art, write a story, and design the pages of their very own storybook.
  • Music Machine allows kids to be composers! They can choose from 4 different instruments and experiment with sounds and songs.
  • In Print Activities, there are printable workbook pages and activities that include crafts, puzzles, games, and more. These are excellent away-from-the-computer activities that are fun, but educational, too (for example, crossword puzzle).
LearningBuddies software titles monitor progress and adapt the program to meet an individual child's changing needs. There are Progress Reports available so that parents can know how well their children are doing. Clicking on the star icon on the screen will pull up a Preferences screen that allows players to adjust the volume of the music, to turn printer access on/off, to use auto-leveling or not, and to view the Goal Checker — a kid-friendly graph that shows how close children are to completing their mission.

We found the range of skills covered in this program to be excellent — activities cover the expected arithmetic and language arts subjects, but also social skills, music, critical thinking skills, and more. The printable activities are excellent, and the inclusion of board-game style activities is refreshing and fun. Kid testers barely came up for air t— they had so much fun testing this program!

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98 or NT 4.0, a 486/66 MHz, 16 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. Mac users require a 60 MHz Power PC with 16 Mb RAM, System 7.1 or higher, and at least 2X CD ROM.

Skills Covered
reading, phonics, word sounds, spelling, vocabulary, sentence construction, counting, addition, subtraction, measurement, categorization, real-life skills, sequencing, patterns, creativity, logic, spatial relations, strategy, attributes

Educational Value
The characters provide positive reinforcement, making for a very encouraging atmosphere for learning. We found the program to be very helpful when kids were struggling. The learning activities are age-appropriate, and the difficulty levels provide a good range of challenge for first-graders.

Entertainment Value
The screens are very bright and inviting, and the characters friendly — most children will be attracted to the game, whether they are Arthur fans or not.

Design
This program contains many desirable design features, including clear navigational icons, an easy-to-use interface, the ability to "click through" introductions, and more. The difficulty levels adjust automatically as a child progresses, but can be changed manually if desired.

Replayability
There is an enormous amount of content to keep children busy for hours on end. Multilevel activities extend the program's replay value even further.

Dollar Value
Suggested retail price is $29.95 US, which is appropriate for the quantity and quality of educational activities

Released: 1999