The JumpStart pals are back in an all-new title designed to give kids ages 5-8 a "jumpstart" on learning art curriculum. This colorful program ventures boldly into areas that are not often dealt with in the children's software industry.
In JumpStart Artist, Kisha Koala welcomes children to an art fair and invites them to help her build carnival rides by playing the program's 5 activities, each hosted by a familiar JumpStart character.
First, they'll play a unique memory game in Casey's Art Tent here players match various terminologies to describe types and styles of art (such as semi-realistic, Asian, portraits, etc.) then use these accumulated clues to select a specific piece of art matching the description.
A somewhat disappointing activity can be found in Hopsalot's Invention Tent. Though sound, it doesn't leave much room for creative experimentation. Children need to build "inventions" according to a given blueprint, using shapes and colors. Color mixing is involved on the higher levels, but children must adhere to a strict sequence that undermines the creative process.
The Personal Art Studio is something spectacular. Truly exciting tools can be used to create little masterpieces. The first clue that this studio is original comes when kids can choose between an oil, tempera or watercolor paintbrush! There's also a spray paint tool here and your standard bucket fill tool. Kids can even work with scalable shapes, similar to the ones their parents use in their paint programs. If kids are stumped, they can always refer to this area's creativity "starters" for ideas that will "jumpstart" their imaginations. The True Color 32-bit palette allows for rather realistic color mixing with the ability to mix multiple colors. All of these options are in one "drawer" called the paint drawer and there are 3 more drawers! In the quilting drawer, kids will find textile templates, pattern tiles, quilt patches, buttons, and appliqués. Kids work with hieroglyphs, opaque and tissue papers, and patterns in the collage drawer. Finally, children create puppets using a wide selection of bodies, heads, arms, feet, and accessories found in the puppet drawer. The only thing missing in this activity is a trash icon. When an item is selected, one tester would have liked to be able to drag it to a place to get rid of it easily. Yes, there is an "undo" and "erase" tool, but the addition of a trash icon as well would have made this studio easier to use.
An exceptional activity can be found in Frankie's tent, where kids help illustrate animated song-stories by creating art that "fits" the story and style from around the world. Each animation contains 3 scenes for example, a treasure map, pyramid, and silly animal shape that kids need to fill in using art tools and paints. These illustrations are then incorporated into a lovely animated story. Excellent!
Finally, who would have thought they'd find an arcade game in an art program? When kids select CJ & Edison's Art Expedition, they collect objects needed for a hot air balloon ride by helping CJ navigate, all while exploring materials and techniques used in folk art and antiquities. Kids learn a fabulously diverse range of facts in this exciting activity. For example, kids will collect a moth, poison-arrow frog, and a fashion magazine. CJ talks about each of these objects, explaining how the pattern on the moth is a form of camouflage, how the bold and showy pattern on the frog is another statement of nature, and how fashion magazines contain clothes that sometimes draw from the patterns of nature! Children do a short quiz on the items, then Edison pulls all these "clues" together to uncover the mystery destination that he and his pal will fly off to (in this case, Paris for a fashion show). It is truly wonderful how much information a child can absorb in this activity! They learn about piñatas in Mexico, charcoal cave drawings, and a whole lot more.
There are 3 levels of difficulty to choose from at sign-in, and they can be adjusted during any activity. Options include the ability to turn the printer off and to save hard drive space by limiting the number of saved artworks in children's portfolios.
An activity guide is on the disk including 53 activity sheets with instructions on how to do various art projects ranging from texture collages to Aboriginal X-ray paintings. These often include extension suggestions and are printable individually or as a set. This is an important addition, as kids can apply the skills they have learned away from the computer especially important with a subject like art.
We found the instructions and rewards a little excessive. Though they can be interrupted, plenty of clicks are required to skip the chatter. Rewards are nice to have, but they are often distracting as children are bumped to the reward screen too often during activities. However, there are some truly clever activities offered in this program that compensate for these minor criticisms. JumpStart titles tend to be very good at squeezing in learning at every turn, and this title is no exception.