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Review CornerSoftware
Franklin the Turtle: Clubhouse Adventures
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This friendly, multi-level program features simple but appealing activities that gently challenge children to use thinking skills with familiar characters. The reward system is effective and never intrusive, and children are encouraged to explore and work at their own pace. Best for kids ages 4-6.
Award
Ages: 4-7  Subject: Adventure  Brand: Knowledge Adventure
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Your child joins Franklin the Turtle as a special guest in his clubhouse, after learning the secret handshake, of course! This well-loved turtle has been a children’s favorite for many years with his simple storybooks and, more recently, as the star of his own PBS series. Now kids can join Franklin and his special animal friends — Rabbit, Sir Fox, Snail, Beaver, and Bear — on the computer. Two CD-ROMs starring this friendly turtle and his friends have been released this fall, and this one focuses on thinking skills and early learning concepts.

We were quite pleased with this program’s activities and its simple, but well-executed presentation. Young children hone their visual discrimination skills in a "spot the differences" game with Rabbit. We’ve seen this type of game in children’s activity books often enough and think it is wonderful in digital format! Children need to compare two pictures and change one of them to precisely match the other, paying close attention to various details like colors, patterns, shapes, and objects. In the sandbox, kids do dinosaur puzzles with Snail, adding bones to the skeleton templates. When they’re done, the skeleton transforms into a dinosaur, is named, and kids are given a few simple facts about that particular creature. The dinosaurs they’ve successfully pieced together are accumulated in the scrapbook and take the form of printable dinosaur cards.

Beaver hosts an exciting pirate game that is reminiscent of the game Frogger, except scaled down for younger users. Children need to use logic (and arrows on the computer keyboard) to get the pirate mice across the pond, dodging lily pads, snakes, and leaping frogs. Sir Fox’s activity is a simple hide-and-seek game, and Bear challenges children to complete friendship bracelets by completing the patterns of beads. Finally, in Franklin’s clubhouse, kids can make a poster, selecting from various backgrounds, frames, and stickers.

In the Scrapbook, children find the reward "badges" they’ve earned for successfully completing activities, as well as a slew of printable crafts. The crafts include instructions for constructing castles out of boxes, door hangers to color, and fancy paper hats to construct — all away from the computer.

We found the features of this program excellent. The feedback given is ideal – children are praised for correct responses and incorrect choices are met with only encouraging words. More importantly, the program has a reward system that is excellent. Sometimes programs go overboard in the rewards department (such as with some JumpStart titles) to the point of distracting from the activities themselves. In this program, children work toward earning badges, but they need to do a fair amount before they receive them.

Though the poster-making activity was too basic to be considered very creative, the rest of the activities provide some fun. Three difficulty levels provide effective challenge for children. In some cases, the third level contained timed activities that made younger children nervous, but the program makes it easy for children to select the level with which they are most comfortable.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, Pentium 133, 32 MB RAM, 12X CD-ROM. Mac users require a Power PC 120 MHz or higher, with 12 MB RAM free, System 8.1, and a 4X CD-ROM. This program requires 50 MB of hard drive space.

The graphics are excellent — they are colorful and crisp — and the audio is clear.

Skills Covered
visual discrimination, colors, hand-eye coordination, strategy, pattern recognition, creativity, puzzles

Educational Value
Though this program is not as academic as some, it features some basic activities that kids will enjoy, and that offer a simple exercise for the brain.

Entertainment Value
Franklin and friends come across well in digital format. This program’s graphics are bold and the activities are inviting in a gentle way.

Design
Franklin the Turtle Clubhouse Adventures is extremely well designed with easily adjustable difficulty levels and an intuitive interface. At some points, however, instructions can’t be "clicked through", but this problem is infrequent and shouldn’t take away from the experience nor will it frustrate most children.

Replayability
Children earn badges and collect them in their printable "scrapbook" pages. We expect a better than average replay value for younger children in the suggested age group, as the activities are fun and the reward system is motivating.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM sells for $20 US.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: November 2000