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Review CornerSoftware
JumpStart Kindergarten 98
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
A solid general curriculum title that covers a lot of basic Kindergarten topics quite well.
Award of Excellence
Ages: 4 to 6   Subject: Curriculum  Brand: Knowledge Adventure
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
JumpStart Kindergarten 98 Product Overview
What an outstanding upgrade! If you own(ed) the original JumpStart Kindergarten, you will barely recognize this new version. Although the original was excellent for its time (1994), it was certainly due for an upgrade, and this one is updated with excellent graphics, new motivational rewards, and even some new activities.

The all-new activities both focus on phonics skill-building:

Jungle Gym Game: Climb to the top of the jungle gym by following the correct path. Depending on the level, and the variations during each level, there are different questions asked. Some require kids to follow a path that represents a correct alphabetical sequence, others involve letter recognition and phonics. On the lowest level, all letters are either uppercase or lowercase, and as kids advance, there may be a mix of cases.

Tricycle Race: Kids help steer their tricycle on the correct paths that correspond to the right number or letter. Here kids must sequence letters or numbers, or match letter sounds to letters. On higher levels, kids are even expected to count by 1's to 30, by 2's to 20, and by 10's to 100. There are 3 new songs to make a total of 8, and the nice thing is that they are sing-and-learn songs that the JumpStart series does so well. They are all excellent and can be played on an audio CD player as well.

The new reward system involves earning stars, and after earning 4 of them, kids get to go to the Petting Zoo and choose an animal to take a picture of. All pictures are stored in a personal photo album, and kids can fill up the pages indefinitely.

Adaptive Learning TechnologyTM tracks kids' advancement throughout the program, and difficulty levels adjust automatically in response to a child's performance. However, levels can be adjusted manually at any time. The Progress Report gives feedback in each fundamental concept explored, and is in graph format. There is also a new "tutor module" that helps out in certain areas in certain activities (Hopsalot pops up in his little notebook and attempts to illustrate, for example, the difference between "b" and "d").

Other activities are updated for 98:

  • Puzzle: Not a traditional puzzle — kids answer questions that have to do with shapes, sizes, opposites, letter sounds, numbers, and more to slowly reveal a picture underneath. We love this game! My now 4 year-old used to play this over and over again on the original version when she was 1 and 1/2.
  • Clock: Learn about the times of day by clicking on the numbers of the clock to see what Bonnie Bunny is doing at that time of day.
  • Hide & Seek with Bebop: This game was great fun in the original game and is even better now! Bebop the Hamster loves to play hide and seek. He will give you a clue and after that, it's up to you to find him — he could be in the classroom or outside.
  • Sing- and Dance-Along Radio: Listen to the 8 different songs.
  • Bulletin Board: Learn the months of the year, holidays, and seasons.
  • Chalkboard: Build silly sentences with Hopsalot.
  • Paint Set: Play picture-matching games then color the pictures, or simply paint and draw your own pictures from scratch.
  • Dolls: Line the dolls up in the correct order by size (descending or ascending).
  • Classroom Closet: Click on objects to see them labeled and hear them named.
  • Scrambled Blocks: The blocks are all mixed up, and kids need to know how to sequence numbers and letters to help put them back in order.
  • Gopher Fun — The Counting Game (in Hopsalot's Garden): Listen to Hopsalot's instructions, then click on the right number of plants and place them in his basket before gopher gets them.
  • Wacky Water — Making Patterns (also in Hopsalot's Garden): Recognize and complete patterns of plants to help Hopsalot water them.
  • Pattern Blaster: This is a wonderful little arcade game for kids so inclined! Help the mice get the cheese by quickly building bridges. Place the blocks in the correct slot according to color and shape.
There's even a printable Activity and Discovery Book included!

Naming numbers and letters is emphasized on this upgrade as well. In the main classroom, there is a little box that pops up a letter and an animation of an object that begins with that letter. My daughter discovered that if she presses a letter on the keyboard, that letter pops up in that box on the screen. This is a great little activity for younger children.

My only complaint is that during one activity, Puzzle, some of the questions are worded oddly. For example, the uppercase letter "F" is presented and the mouse asks the child to "find the box that starts with the letter F". Kids have to select from 9 different boxes that simply contain lowercase letters. Why "starts with the letter..."? There are a few things that are like that in this activity, but my kids don't seem to mind.

Technically Speaking
Minimum reqsrequirements Windows are a 486/66, 16 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. Mac users need at least 68040/40, System 7.1, 8 Mb RAM, and 2X CD. The game will take up 15 Mb of hard drive space as well. We have yet to encounter a technical difficulty!

Skills Covered
letter recognition, phonics, counting, alphabet sequencing, number sequencing, colors and shapes, sizes, sorting, visual discrimination, creativity, sentence building, listening skills, following directions, months, seasons, holidays, time of day associations, rhyming words

Educational Value
Lots of skill-building activities. The inclusion of a tutor module is nice, but present in only some activities.

Entertainment Value
Lots of visual appeal and a good mix of fast-paced and unhurried activities.

Very well-designed with perfect features and difficulty levels (they adjust up or down depending on a child's performance, but can also be adjusted easily). Lots of help is available as well.

There's enough content here to keep kids busy, and a nice range of activities that will appeal to most children.

Dollar Value
At $20, this software is worth it.

Released: 1998