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Review CornerSoftware
JumpStart Learning Games: Spelling
Rating: four stars
The Bottom Line
This cute value-priced program features multiple levels of difficulty, humorous and fun gameplay, and provides some spelling practice at the same time. It is probably best for kids on the younger end of the suggested age group, as the software will grow along with their abilities.
Ages: 5-8   Subject: Reading/Pre-reading/Spelling  Brand: Knowledge Adventure
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
JumpStart Learning Games: Spelling Product Overview
In this value-priced CD-ROM, CJ the Frog needs help rescuing his little firefly pal Edison. It seems that Edison has been captured by prehistoric cave dwellers who think they have discovered fire! Players need to guide CJ through 10 levels of jungles, volcanoes, and more in order to do the job, and along the way, they play wonderful little spelling games.

Upon sign-in, kids need to choose between 5 basic levels: Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade. Each level gets increasingly more difficult automatically, but the challenge can be adjusted manually as well. Then, it is off to the game!

Players help CJ through cute levels, allowing him to hop over chasms, use dinosaur heads as bridges, swing from vines, and more. Each time CJ runs into a tablet, there is a spelling challenge to solve. On the preschool level, for example, kids work with very basic 3-letter words. They start by simply choosing the correct letters for a word that is already spelled for them, to spelling a word like "pin" given the "in", to determining the end letters of words, and so forth. On the 3rd Grade level, kids start by reading a sentence and filling in a partially spelled missing word. Once each level is successfully completed, there is a bonus round in which players have the opportunity to add to their score.

Periodically, kids are treated to humorous updates on Edison's experiences with the cave dwellers. For example, at one point Edison is quite perturbed when he is used as a lamp (see screenshot at left)!

A preferences screen gives players a few options — from this screen, they can change the difficulty level and volume, for example. The program uses JumpStart's Adaptive Learning Technology which means the program adapts automatically to a child's performance. When kids are displaying mastery of skills, the program will move on to a higher level, and will not advance if a child is struggling. The preferences screen allows a parent or child to adjust the levels manually if so desired.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a 486DX2/66, 16 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM. Mac users require a Power PC with 16 Mb with 16 Mb RAM, System 7.5 or higher, and at least 4X CD ROM.

The game features gorgeous cartoon-style graphics.

Skills Covered

Educational Value
This title provides good spelling practice in a fun setting! The range of levels is very broad, though it is doubtful that the average 3rd grader will be challenged by their level.

Entertainment Value
The graphics and characters are charming (and probably familiar to many kids). This is an arcade-style program, but the arcade factor is not very challenging, so kids are not penalized unnecessarily for slow reflexes. Very fun!

Instructions are explicit, and navigational icons and arrows are obvious. Adaptive Learning Technology minimizes frustration by automatically adjusting the difficulty levels according to a child's performance, and the levels can be manually adjusted as well.

Even though this is a value-priced program, there is still a lot of content. Once they have completed all 10 levels, kids may be motivated to play again in order to beat their high score. The range of difficulty is broad — 5 levels from preschool to third grade — so this title will grow with younger children.

Dollar Value
The suggested retail price is only $10 US. Considering parents will spend at least that much on a children's video, most parents will find this program to be well worth the outlay.

Released: 1999
Reviewed: March 2000