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Review CornerSoftware
Flash Action Colors, Shapes & More
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
The design of this title is brilliant in its simplicity, making it an irresistible program for preschoolers to reinforce basic academic concepts.
Ages: 2-4  Subject: Early Learning  Publisher: School Zone Interactive
Review Sections:  Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
Excellent for preparing children for preschool or Kindergarten learning, this easy-to-use program offers kids a fun environment in which to reinforce basic skills.

The program consists of four "activity centers", each containing a series of interactive flashcards. In one, number and counting activities are featured. Children may be called upon to "put two eggs in the nest" or "click on the number three", for example. Next up is geometric shapes, in which children must identify simple shapes. The third activity center is devoted to color recognition. Children are asked to, for example, "put the green bug on the leaf" or "color the jeep yellow". In the final activity center, pre-reading skills are tested. Children are required to click on a picture that is different than the others in a set, "put the tallest crown on the Queen's head", move an oppossum to the longest branch, identify rhyming words, and more.

Four corresponding games open up as children work through the "flash cards", and these are quite fun and educational. All but one is immediately intuitive to play. Children place sets of animals onto backgrounds, and, as they do, the corresponding numeral appears before their eyes. In another game, geometric shapes can be placed onto the play areas. Colored sands can be poured onto the workspace, and kids have the opportunity to manipulate the designs (such as "shake" them). Making music by adding birds, cars, cats, balloons, and so forth, onto a staff is the final game.

Animated toys, such as ponies and teddy bears, charge across the screen every now and again with congratulations and encouragement. As each interactive flash card is completed successfully, a colorful bead plops satisfyingly into place.

Some young children, when presented with a main menu from which to choose activities, tire of a program quickly. The beauty of this title is that children need not choose activities to play, although they are entirely free to do so. This simple design, which never pauses to "ask" a child whether he/she wants to move on, increases replay value. There is no complicated story line to confuse young children either. As such, this program is especially ideal for children who give up if they are faced with too many decisions.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98 or higher, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, and 50 MB free hard disk space. Mac users require a PowerPC 150 MHz or faster, OS 7.6.1 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, and 50 MB hard drive space.

Skills Covered
shapes, numbers, counting, matching, musical sounds, comparisons.

Educational Value
The program plays much like interactive flash cards. Children are quizzed on basic concepts. Learning happens through reinforcement rather than tutorials.

Entertainment Value
This title is pleasingly simple and sweet, with graphics that are brightly colored and attractive. Plenty of animated rewards for a job well done are included.

The design of this program is exceptional. Children are guided through a series of electronic "flash cards" in such a way that they are never asked to make a decision whether or not to continue. Still, they are perfectly free to skip around as they please.

Although the content is not especially large, the program is inviting for young children and its design encourages repeat play.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM retails for approximately $15 US.

Released: 2002 
Reviewed: August 2002