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Review CornerSoftware
Blue's Art Time Activities
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Though this title doesnít give a whole lot of room for breakthrough creative expression, it does give an inspiring nudge towards thinking creatively. A far cry from traditional paint programs, Blueís Art Time Activities introduces kids to the fundamentals of art, requires them to listen and follow directions, and is entirely absorbing.
Award
Ages: 3-6  Subject: Creativity/Art  Brand: Humongous Entertainment
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Blue and her friends are preparing for the Really Big Art Show and they need help from your preschooler. Equipped with a mission, a group of activities, and a handy portfolio, kids set out on a creative mission to help Periwinkle (an adorable all-new cat character), Marky Marker, Chalk Girl, and Al Luminum complete their entries for the show.

Donít be surprised when your preschooler nonchalantly lets words like diorama, chartreuse, tertiary colors, and blueprint roll off their tongues. These terms are casually introduced and used throughout the program, and kids will pick up their meanings quickly.

Iíve been waiting for those adorable little animated, happy-faced paint drops from the TV series to jump with glee and demonstrate color mixing on the computer screen! What a delightfully visual and powerful demonstration. The Color Game requires children to combine colors to make new ones in order to advance on a game board with the ultimate goal of winning a ribbon. Kids learn about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors as they progress through the 10 levels of the game. Later, they get a chance to assert their creative judgment with one of those well-earned ribbons by placing it onto their favorite piece of artwork at the Art Show.

This program is much more than a simple paint program. It introduces kids to basic art fundamentals such as design and layout, engages them with a color mixing game reminiscent of Chutes and Ladders, and inspires a positive attitude towards recycling. Preschoolers work with geometric shapes, follow directions as they create murals and dioramas, and help illustrate Periwinkleís storybooks.

Blue's Art Time Activities combines structured activities with free play in a pleasing way. At the craft table, for instance, kids follow Marky Markerís instructions to put finishing touches on the invitation for the Really Big Art Show. Then they can create their own pictures using various paint and stamp tools such as different size paint brushes, gems and glitter, a magnifier, fun and chubby stickers, and a rotation tool. At any time, they can save their creations to the portfolio.

Children have an overall goal that is not entirely apparent and might need some reminding. In order to get to the art show, they need to help each of the characters and collect ribbons by playing the Color Game. They are free to create their own masterpieces at any time during the activities, and are encouraged to do so. Best of all, artwork is displayed in the Hall of Art.

An innovative activity called Recycle Town requires kids to create pieces for Al Luminumís dioramas by referring to blueprints. Kids will need to hunt down and collect recycling items in their canvas bag, then assemble their crafts by adding glue, using scissors and tape, and measuring string. Each diorama has an attached theme. Be sure to print out the blueprints to use away from the computer Ė items used are everyday items and might very well inspire kids to think up original ways to transform common household items (garbage) into original art!

After a day with the software, my 4-year-old daughter impressed her preschool teacher when she demonstrated her newfound knowledge of tertiary colors. She mixed her paints and showed how to make chartreuse, aquamarine, marigold, and magenta.

Though the content and features of the program are adequate and at times magical, I couldnít help but feel a little disappointed with the program. While the concepts taught fill a gap, thereís not a lot of room for spontaneous creative expression. This gripe aside, I still would recommend this software title to kids ages 4-6. It can help spark an interest in craft-making and creativity and certainly introduces some structure and fundamentals of art to preschoolers.

Our copy was packaged with a free CD-ROM Blue's ABC Time Activities — an excellent pre-reading program that earned 4 1/2 stars (see our review).

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 166 processor, 32 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM. Mac users require a 132 MHz Power PC with 32 Mb RAM, System 7.5.3, and at least 4X CD ROM. It requires 80MB of hard drive space.

Humongous games are generally very easy to install, and this game was no exception. With Windows 95/98 AutoPlay, it is a breeze. No glitches have been encountered, and graphics and audio are superb. Some "printables" are included, and printing can be turned on or off at the parentís discretion.

Skills Covered
color mixing, texture, composition, design, illustration, layout, recognition of shapes, fine motor skills

Educational Value
Curriculum-based art activities casually introduce kids to concepts like color mixing (and the terms primary, secondary, and tertiary colors), illustration, layout, and design. The structured activities require kids to listen and follow directions from beloved characters. Children are free to enjoy both the directed and exploratory games at their own pace.

Entertainment Value
Beautiful screens and entirely lovable characters will quickly "draw" kids into the program. As always, Humongous has done an outstanding job of recreating and extending the television series on the computer screen.

Design
Plenty of options are available. Kids refer to their portfolio and check up on their progress at any time.

Replayability
We love that there is an overall mission for children who are motivated by goal-based software. At the same time, kids are free to explore without pressure to perform. This title is expected to have a better-than-average lifespan.

Dollar Value
At a retail price of $25 US, this title is a good buy, especially if your copy comes with the bonus CD-ROM Blue's ABC Time Activities.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: October 2000