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Review CornerSoftware
Elmo's Reading: Preschool & Kindergarten
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
A valuable 2-CD set with age-appropriate activities on one CD and a charming, interactive storybook on the other.
Ages: 3-6  Subject: Early Learning  Brand: Creative Wonders/TLC
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
Product Overview
This is a 2-disc set:

The first CD is "Reading Basics: Elmo's Get Set to Read" which is a prereading primer. Beginning in the library, Elmo asks kids to click on a book to choose an activity, 6 in all:

  • The History Mystery: Elmo joins Sherlock Hemlock in an Egyptian chamber. Kids must complete 3 words in a word "family" (example, coat, goat, boat) by choosing a beginning letter. When they do, the stone doors open to reveal a Sesame Street character.
  • Super Grover: Elmo falls into a comic book page and joins Super Grover on his quest to rescue items. Kids must build words by completing them.
  • Beam Me Up, Up, Up: Martians want to collect earthly items and beam them back to Mars for further study. Kids learn to match letters with letter sounds and with things that start with that letter.
  • Cooking with Cookie: Elmo joins Chef Cookie Monster and Grover the waiter. Kids help make the right food by building words of the food Cookie Monster must prepare.
  • Zoetry Poetry: Here, kids must listen to Zoe's rhyme, then click on an object that completes that rhyme. Kids are rewarded with some silly rhymes!
  • Elmo's Wild Kingdom: Elmo takes his position in a book about nature, and on each page is an incomplete sentence and a nature scene. Kids must find the correct word to complete the sentence.

These activities provide kids with lots of prereading practice.

The second CD, entitled "Reading Adventure: Elmo Through the Looking Glass", is an interactive storybook. Kids start out in the library where Cookie Monster (aka Alistair Cookie) is hosting "Monsterpiece Theater". There are 3 ways to play:

  • Read to Me: The storybook is simply read to the child, with no mouse interaction.
  • Read and Play: Each page is read aloud, then kids can explore the page and play an activity on some of the pages.
  • Index: Go to any page in the story.

Activities in the second CD include

  • Chess Match: sort and match chess pieces that Elmo has knocked down.
  • Two-Headed Monster's Name Game: listen to a description of an object and then find it.
  • Oscar's Grouchy Sundae Party: make grouchy sundaes for the various characters by listening closely to Oscar's grouchy directions.
  • Grover's Pond: help Elmo describe the little red monster he is looking for.
  • Playing Cards: create number sets to match the right numerals on the playing cards.
  • All the Elmos in the Whole Wide-World: create lots of different furry, red Elmo monsters in this design-an-Elmo game.

Reading and playing through the story encourages imagination and has a "you can be whatever you want to be" message. The graphics are really rich and impressive, and improved over previous Sesame Street releases. This interactive storybook is nothing short of delightful!

My 2 and 4 year-old love both CDs, particularly the interactive storybook. Cooking with Cookie Monster is a big favorite.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are quite low. For Windows: Win 3.1, 486/33, 8 Mb RAM, 2X CD. For Mac, 68040, 8 Mb RAM, System 7.1, 2X CD. Not as slow as Elmo's Preschool, and graphics are really impressive.

Skills Covered
letter-sound recognition, consonant blends, building word families, word-object recognition, letter recognition, matching upper and lowercase letters, rhyming, sorting, matching, listening, vocabulary, one-to-one correspondence with numerals, imagination, counting

Educational Value
Lots of prereading practice, although it doesn't really teach as much as simply asking questions. Kids are given encouragement to learn.

Entertainment Value
The characters, stories, and activities are highly entertaining and totally engaging. On the Reading Basics CD, your child will probably stick to a few activities that appeal more than others.

Both CDs are very well-designed. The first has 3 challenge levels that provide a nice range, and the second has nice options as well.

The oh-so-popular Elmo, and the entertaining story and activities will keep kids coming back for more.

Dollar Value
Retail price is $35, but there have been lots of deals around ( 2 for 1, etc.) so you can probably find it for less.

Released: 1998