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Review CornerSoftware
JumpStart 1st-3rd Grade Learning Playground
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This is an economical bundle of valuable previously-released titles. As a whole, this package is excellent for second grade skills practice in fun learning environments.
Ages: 7-9   Subject: Math/Science/Reading   Brand: Knowledge Adventure
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
Good value — both educational and economical — can be found in this set of 3 previously-released CD-ROMs. The following titles are included in this bundle:
  • JumpStart Math
  • JumpStart Reading
  • JumpStart Explorers

JumpStart Math was originally released as JumpStart 2nd Grade Math. This program is a playful and rich adventure-style game that focuses on exercising math skills. The adventure begins with CJ Frog, the royal Flycatcher to the Queen and King of a medieval castle, daydreaming about becoming a knight. His big day to prove he is a hero comes when Ratso, an evil mastermind, traps the royal family members and staff inside the castle's mirrors. CJ gets help from his sidekick, Edison, and the escaped princess. Children lead the little hero through the castle's winding hallways and passageways, passing through the "math traps" left behind by Ratso and his ratty henchmen. As they attempt to find potion ingredients to rescue the royal prisoners, they solve word problems, repair stained glass windows (by estimating the size of glass needed before cutting it to shape), take part in a jousting challenge, and so forth. Mini challenges are littered throughout the castle. For example, many doors in the castle are guarded by locks, and children need to set the time correctly in order to pass.

This math program will be too challenging for most first graders, and probably just right for children in grades 2-3. The difficulty levels adjust automatically according to a child's performance, so the game tends to stay at a comfortable level of challenge.

Like the math title, JumpStart Reading was originally intended for second graders. Since it features multiple levels of challenge, however, it is appropriate for children from first through third grade. Again, a fun adventure draws children in. They participate in a nice variety of language arts challenges as they attempt to save the day: word puzzles, spelling challenges, reading comprehension tests, and more. See our review of the game for more details.

JumpStart Explorers offers children a technologically-unique experience that allows them to travel back in time. The basic goal is to find tadpoles who have hopped into a time travel machine, and the process is really quite fun and educationally rich. Although children do not receive explicit lessons on geography and history, they learn quite a few diverse facts as they play this game of hide and seek in time and space. It makes a fun introduction to both history and world cultures, and a full review can be found here.

Both JumpStart Reading and JumpStart Math are not outstanding for teaching children new skills. They are best considered fun programs that help reinforce skills already learned. All three titles feature fun and playful learning environments. This quality makes the package especially appropriate for children who are unimpressed with dry presentations, and those who need a nudge in order to practice academic skills. JumpStart Explorers does, however, teach children some diverse facts about history and world cultures in a unique setting.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 98/Me/2000/XP, Pentium 233 MHz or faster, 64 MB RAM, and 12X CD-ROM. Mac users require a PowerMac G3 233 MHz or faster, System 8.1, 8.6, 9.2.1, 64 MB RAM, and 16X CD-ROM.

Skills Covered
Children develop skills in alphabetic order/alphabetizing words, vocabulary, compound words, contractions, blends, digraphs, vowel teams, reading comprehension, deduction, parts of speech, plurals, past tense verbs, spelling, homophones, synonyms, antonyms, rhyming words, building sentences, short stories, fractions, problem solving, logic, addition, subtraction, multiplication, regrouping, place value, attributes, graphing, early geometry, estimating perimeter, telling time, patterns, skip counting, following rules, word problems, number operations, ancient world history, geography, and world cultures.

Educational Value
These programs offer plenty of opportunities for children to practice a nice range of academic skills. The content is especially appropriate for children in second grade.

Entertainment Value
All three programs feature engaging missions that draw children in beautifully. Kids are motivated to play the games by the appeal of the adventures.

Very smart design features include automatic adjustment of difficulty levels that are sensitive to individual players' performance, the ability to adjust challenge levels manually, and easy navigation.

This package includes three full-sized programs, each with enough appealing content to stand alone.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM carries a suggested retail price of approximately $20 US.

Released: 2003
Reviewed: April 2003