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Review CornerSoftware
Big Thinkers! Kindergarten
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This program boasts an above-average number of high-interest activities, fun characters, and more challenging games than most programs of this genre that are surprisingly fun to play. Excellent!
Award
Ages: 4-6  Subject: Curriculum  Brand: Humongous Entertainment
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Big Thinkers! Kindergarten is a curriculum-based free-play program that is packed with fun, educational activities. The activities cover important kindergarten skills such as letter identification, measurement, sequencing, simple spelling and more.

The stars of this software title are Ben and Becky Brightly who get involved in each activity in more ways than you can imagine — they morph into all sorts of things, including fish and airplanes! In one early adding activity, these blue-haired kids stre-e-etch their arms and legs out to become perches for birds.

Smart Stars are FUN to collect — they pop up on the screen after successful game-playing, and kids love to click on them and watch their antics as they drop down, bounce, and even parachute, into their BrainBank. In order to play the special SuperStar of Smarts activity, kids need to have earned SmartStars of each color.

Becky and Ben's house is filled with "clickables" as well as 16 activities. In Twin Time Telling, kids compare analog and digital time readings. Kids estimate and measure Becky's height using such things as ice cubes and carrots. A maze activity has children navigating Ben through a garden, but there is an interesting twist to the game — when Ben meets up with an obstacle (food) on the course, kids must decide what animal Ben should transform himself into in order to gobble up the hindrance. Becky turns into an airplane to get to the activity in the sky, where kids must rearrange letters in their proper alphabetic order on a cloud.

Clicking on the Think'n'Go icon will take players to a screen that allows faster access to the different rooms and activities.

This program is busier than most Kindergarten titles on the market, and it tends to be somewhat more challenging too. For example, there is a navigational activity that requires children to make educated guesses as to where Ben is hiding, and there are a number of directions and clues to follow that may be too complicated for many children in the suggested age group. There are a couple of downfalls to the program that deserve mentioning. There is no obvious way of adjusting difficulty levels, and the location of the activities is not immediately obvious. Some children will love exploring and discovering the activities for themselves, but others may end up doing a lot of aimless clicking.

It has been some time since a free-play, curriculum-based program got so much attention in my own household. Kids ranging in age from 3 to 6 returned to this game over and over. Big Thinkers! Kindergarten has a lot of life in it, with more than the average number of activities for software of this genre.

Technically Speaking
Minimum reqs are Win 3.1, a 486/33, 8 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. For Macs, a 68040/25 with 8 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM.

No installation is required for Windows 95/98 and Mac users — simply pop in the CD and play!

Skills Covered
problem solving, strategy, thinking skills, first letter identification, measurement & estimation, sequencing & patterning, spelling, phonics, time telling, alphabet skills, reading, sentences, counting, computation, geography, directions, environmental science, spatial perception, art, creativity, music

Educational Value
The range of activities is fantastic, and educational content is high. This title contains some activities that are more challenging than most Kindergarten programs on the market.

Entertainment Value
This program truly makes learning fun. Children love the original characters and games.

Design
A Smart Chart feature keeps track of SmartStars earned in each category. Children need to do a fair amount of exploring to get to the activities at the outset, but soon will get to know where to locate their favorites. Exiting the game is not intuitive, but easily done once kids learn how to do so.

Replayability
More content than most titles in this category and truly original activities that provide variety and entertainment add to the longevity of the game. Kids love earning different colored SmartStars, and a fun space activity is another reward for working through the activities.

Dollar Value
This title now sells for only $10 US — you can't go wrong. This title is also available in a bundle entitled World of Fun & Learning Kindergarten (see our review).

Released: 1997
Reviewed: March 2000