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Review CornerSoftware
Blue's Reading Time Activities
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
With old favorites as well as all-new characters, this Blue's Clues title may be the best yet. It's well-designed, entertaining, and never misses an opportunity to teach kids early reading skills.
Award
Ages: 3-6  Subject: Reading/Pre-Reading/Spelling  Brand: Humongous Entertainment
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Few preschoolers can resist an invitation from Blue to explore her colorful world, and it's a good thing too because Blue's Clues Reading Time Activities presents a world filled with words and reading games. Words label most of the objects, and around every corner a fun game that encourages children to want to read awaits discovery.

The Blue's Clues television program pleases many a parent's desire for their children to enjoy television not as passive watchers, but as active participants. Blue's Clues software takes this interactivity a step further. Once again, Humongous has done the ground-breaking and imaginative television series justice. Beautiful screens, characters whose simplicity is charming and understandable, and activities that truly involve kids in the learning process all add up to an exemplary edutainment title that kids will love playing.

Blue, the ever-curious polka-dot pooch, takes on the role of reporter, bent on digging up all the playful stories in her neighborhood. Each time a child plays a round of an activity, (s)he earns a special page for a newspaper. Headlines like "Blue Uncovers Bucket to Save the Day" recap the activity a child has just played. Cute!

A favorite activity is found in the backyard, and may take a little getting used to, but is well worth the effort. Players team up with Blue for a card game (pictured at left) with popular characters. Even Paprika, the adorable offspring of Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper, has a turn to play. This game is loosely based on Go Fish! with even simpler rules. Here kids match word cards to make pairs, but as levels advance, educational value increases. At first, kids will try to match labeled pictures. Then they match words with labeled pictures, then words with unlabeled pictures. The levels advance gradually, and it is a joy to watch as children are eased into the process of identifying words. Not only that, games such as these help children learn about taking turns. Watching favorite characters like Magenta and baby Paprika win is not so bad — kids are happy for them!

Kids help Green Kitten illustrate her storybooks by answering comprehension questions about the story she narrates. This requires children to jog their memories and pay attention to details with the help of pictorial clues. The dictionary activity is wonderful. Each dictionary page contains objects from a theme, and children are asked to match word cards to pictures in order to correctly label the items.

A maze game involves using word cards to instruct Blue to do certain tasks like "walk", "turn", and "jump" in order to solve a favorite character's dilemma. Special word cards such as "untangle" and "dig" are earned along the path that help Blue complete the activity.

A 4 year old tester was captivated by this title and determined to build enough newspapers to uncover all 9 puzzle pieces. This will take some time, as each puzzle piece is earned after 5 newspapers are filled.

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
word recognition, letter recognition, comprehension, prediction, listening comprehension, following directions

Educational Value
Learning to read may seem like a lot of work but this program proves it can be great fun. Though this title doesn't take a serious, systematic approach to reading, it will help promote a positive attitude toward wanting to read. At the very least, it will help familiarize young children with basic words and reading concepts.

Entertainment Value
In keeping with the wonderfully encouraging television show, this program will delight kids with adorable characters and truly engaging activities. You don't have to be a Blue's Clues fan to enjoy this charming program!

Design
As always with Humongous programs, children quickly learn how to get around the program. The attention to detail is evident in every aspect of this title.

Replayability
The producers of this program included plenty of motivational rewards to keep kids coming back time and time again.

Dollar Value
At a retail price of $25 US, this title is an excellent buy. If your copy comes with the bonus CD-ROM Blue's ABC Time Activities, this is an even better deal.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: September 2000