If you are interested in introducing a young child to the computer, this software package is a wonderful place to begin. Two full CD-ROMs designed for toddlers are bundled together in Disney Learning Toddler, and the result is a package with great value.
The two CD-ROMs in this set are full, previously released titles. Both feature a design that caters to a young child's need for simplicity. Children need only roll the cursor over objects in order to activate them, or, alternatively, tap any key on the keyboard for an onscreen result. This means that a toddler is not required to be able to manage accurate mouse swiping and deliberate clicking of the mouse consecutively.
The first CD-ROM, Disney's Mickey Mouse Toddler, presents a set of activities that allow toddlers to explore letters of the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and music almost effortlessly. For more details, see our full review of this title.
Disney's Winnie the Pooh Toddler is the second CD-ROM in the set. Toddlers are invited to access the program's activities through a main screen in which Winnie the Pooh and some of his friends are hanging out under a big tree. There are five activities altogether.
One of the most engaging and academically effective activities of the bunch involves "popping" balloons, each bearing a number, shape, or letter. Children roll their cursor over each balloon to hear its label named. In this activity, toddlers simply explore and reinforce number, letter, color, and shape recognition skills in a non-intimidating setting. At the same time, they easily learn that moving the mouse in a deliberate fashion has its rewards--in this case, the delight of making a balloon wiggle and pop!
Another good activity involves making educated guesses in a game called "Who Likes To...?" Each of the friends are holding an object that identifies an activity that they hold dear. After listening to a hint, toddlers must select a character that matches the description. In the other activities, kids explore opposites, music, and either Spanish or French vocabulary.
Parents can access a "print and learn" area in either CD-ROM in order to print out educational coloring pages, flash cards, and more.
Both titles are warm, richly drawn, and engaging programs that parents will enjoy playing along with their children. The activities cover the academic basics, and, for the most part, they are covered well. Our complaint for each title, when each was available independently, was the relatively small number of activities offered. However, Disney's Learning Toddler brings the two titles together for the price of one, offering children plenty of variety and activities to choose from.
There are some non-interruptible sequences that can be a little confusing for young computer users. However, the programs shine with their encouraging learning environments, strong and familiar characters, and strong educational content.
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/Me/XP, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, and 60 MB free hard disk space. Mac users require a G3 processor, 233 MHz or faster, OS 8.6 through OS X Classic Mode (for Winnie the Pooh Toddler) and OS 8.6-9.2 (for Mickey Mouse Toddler), 32 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, and 60 MB hard drive space.
letter recognition, number recognition, colors, shapes, cause and effect, mouse skills, creativity, listening skills, music appreciation, foreign language vocabulary (Spanish or French), eye-hand coordination, social skills, visual relationships, observation skills, deduction, problem solving.
Both programs in the set provide an encouraging environment for young children to learn computer mouse skills and eye-hand coordination. Basic academic skills are presented in an engaging format, and the learning is errorless.
Toddlers will delight in playing peek-a-boo with Mickey Mouse, a guessing game with the gang in the Hundred Acre Woods, and more. The two CD-ROMs feature beautifully drawn graphics and sweet touches that both children and their caregivers will enjoy.
Both programs take into full account a toddler's inexperience and limited abilities with the computer mouse. Children are required to roll the mouse over hotspots in order to activate them, while the traditional second step--clicking the mouse--is not required. The design of one of the CD-ROMs, Mickey Mouse Toddler, is especially clever. Although some sequences cannot be bypassed, which can be confusing for children with budding mouse skills, the overall design of both programs caters wonderfully to the needs and abilities of young children.
The activities in this set of programs are simple but not simplistic. In fact, most of them are very engaging and satisfying. Both programs are sure to get plenty of repeat plays.
This 2 CD-ROM set retails for approximately $20 US.
Reviewed: August 2002