Many young children own at least one set of the Lego Duplo play line of colorful blocks and mini-figures. Now they have come to life on the computer screen, and though kids won't be trying to fit these oversized Lego bricks together to create masterpieces, the colorful world of Lego My Style Preschool will be a familiar one.
This free-play, activity-based program for preschoolers is based on a wonderful concept. It recognizes the fact that children have unique "learning styles", such as visual, kinesthetic, musical, analytical, and linguistic, and offers activities that feature these styles. Different character-hosts in Lego My Style Preschool bring their own unique styles to each of the 4 learning areas Art, Language Arts, Math, and Music. Selecting the mathematical Elephant, for example, will launch an activity that has a mathematical slant, regardless of the learning theme. In the Language Arts area, children must determine the correct number of balls bearing a particular letter of the alphabet. The Elephant also hosts a paint-by-number activity in the Art locale. The active Pony brings an energetic spin to the games he hosts. In the language arts area, for example, he asks children to pop the moving balloons labeled with a certain letter of the alphabet. The musical Panda wants kids to count musical notes on the 123 Farm, and will sing a short ditty about words that start with a letter of the alphabet in ABC land.
There is certainly no shortage of activities in this program 20 in all! Magic Bricks are earned after a few successes in any one activity, and clicking on these reward bricks launches a free play area that contains all sorts of creative surprises. As well, once players display mastery of certain skills, they have the chance to "teach" the somewhat clueless Bricky and Clicky what they've learned.
We love the promising objectives of the program, but found the activities themselves somewhat disappointing. Though some are clever, many of them miss several opportunities to teach children. Instead, they seem more like gussied-up drills of early learning concepts. Some were confusing to testers, and few of the 20 activities stood out as particularly innovative. Lego My Style Preschool presents a very interesting way of combining learning styles with concepts, but would have been more impressive if the activities allowed children to truly explore early learning concepts instead of simply drilling children on their skills. Feedback from the activities' hosts was, for the most part positive, but not educational. We would have liked to see more constructive help rather than simple praise when children got the correct answer.
Though this program presents kids with vibrant graphics and some interesting activities, it is best for children who want to practice their skills rather than those who need to learn them.
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 200 processor, 100% DirectX 7.0a or higher compatible, 32 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM. Mac users require a Power PC 200 MHz or higher, System 8.1 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD ROM, Sound Manager 3.0 or higher. It requires minimum 15 MB of hard drive space (an additional 7 MB for DirectX if not already installed).
alphabet recognition, letter-object association, creativity, counting, numbers, shapes, colors, music
This title is based on some very promising educational objectives – recognized "learning styles" are incorporated into play, and children have the opportunity to display mastery of skills by teaching onscreen characters but misses some opportunities to teach kids the important concepts behind the skills presented. Choose this title for children who have mastered basic preschool curriculum, not for kids who have not yet learned these concepts.
This colorful land of blocks is inviting and preschoolers should find some of the program's offerings enjoyable.
Some aspects of the game are designed well. A free-play, pressure-free environment is created with a rather intuitive interface. We would have liked more feedback and help from the characters in addition to their praise, however. As well, many instructions couldn't be "clicked through", which quickly became annoying to testers.
There isn't a shortage of things to do in this title! Children play activities in 4 different play areas, each in 5 different ways. Rewards in the form of Magic Bricks are fun and unique. While some activities hold promise, many are not innovative enough to have much long-term value.
This title is reasonably priced at a suggested retail price of $19.95 US.
Reviewed: November 2000