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Review CornerSoftware
Curious George Reads Writes & Spells for Grades 1 & 2
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Curious George fans should enjoy this program that contains a lot of content and much practice with spelling words.
 
Ages: 6-8  Subject: Reading/Pre-Reading/Spelling  Brand: Houghton Mifflin Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
After sign-in, a story begins in which Curious George, true to form, gets into a bit of trouble. In this all-new story, George 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. Pictured above, kids are asked to spell a word like "met", then Curious George sprays the letters with paint, and kids collect points. Another activity has George washing and sorting dishes by spelling words. In the bakery, George watches as the rising dough of the unbaked rolls pops up and down, and kids must select the dough with the letters to complete a stated word. Still another activity involves rearranging lettered flowerpots on a wagon to correctly spell a spoken word.

Some episodes require kids to complete sentences in a story by selecting from a number of given words. They can click on the loudspeaker icon to hear the story read as the phrases are highlighted. Altogether, kids can write 2 printable news articles and "fix" 30 printable short stories. The short stories contain words that can be clicked on individually to hear them read aloud.

Each activity screen has 4 icons — progress, storybook (go to select a different episode), score, and repeat (plus hints). There is a high score screen available at the end of the activities..

The spelling words are generally spoken clearly, and in case a child didn't understand, the spoken word is always followed by a sentence to provide context. This is an important feature.

Parental controls can only be accessed from the HMI program group outside of the game. Here, parents can add and delete names, as well as choose to turn a number of options on or off: all episodes and levels for each, basic easy words, additional basic easy words, challenge words, printing, end of level access to the activities, and proof reading printouts. Here, parents can select the perfect spelling lessons that they want their kids to be exposed to, and the words are grouped into things like "spelling the long 'a' sound". Included are 40+ printouts for extra practice.

Curious George Reads, Writes & Spells is content-rich and combines reading, writing, vocabulary, and spelling practice together with an interesting story line. Each activity ties in with the portion, or "episode", of the story that precedes it. 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 requirements are a 486/66, 12 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. Mac users require a 68040 or Power PC with 12 Mb RAM, System 7.1 or higher, and at least 2X CD ROM. Both require 10 Mb of hard drive space.

Skills Covered
reading, vocabulary, spelling, pattern recognition, phonics, proofreading, editing, writing

Educational Value
For the most part, this program is best at reinforcing and testing children's spelling abilities. The words given are highly appropriate for most kids aged 6-8, and the levels provide a good range of spelling words to keep both first graders and second graders gently challenged.

Entertainment Value
This is a quiet program that revolves around a rather entertaining two-part story.

Design
They have included a number of nice options and features. Although the parental controls cannot be accessed while a child is playing the game, it is not too difficult to set preferences before a child fires up the program. The sign-in feature helps keep track of a child's progress and lets them return to the game exactly where they left off. We only wished that the narrator didn't have to question whether we wanted to leave every time the storybook icon was clicked on.

Replayability
Kids who like Curious George will enjoy this original story and the spelling practice as well.

Dollar Value
The suggested retail price is $39.95 US, but you can get it for a lot less now. The online price from HMI at the time of this review is only $14.99 US.

Released: 1998