After an excellent debut in Piggy in Numberland, Piggy is back in an all-new title called Piggy's Birthday Present. It presents language arts and math practice in a lovely 3D environment, and focuses on dot-to-dot activities to teach curriculum-based concepts and paint activities as a means of a break from the learning process.
There are two main areas, each of which is structured the same, only with different educational focus. Kids select one of the many empty white spaces in the given mural so that it enlarges as a dot-to-dot activity. Once complete, the object can be colored with a wide selection of colored paint cans, and it will appear exactly as colored in the mural. The two learning realms are as follows:
Kids can sign in to the game as individuals or as groups. Either way, they are assigned a category with a cute mascot, such as an elephant or turtle. Piggy magically shrinks, enters his birthday present, and arrives in the Playroom. He must decide which slide he wants to go down (the ABC or the 123 one) and then plays the games.
- The 1,2,3s section focuses on numbers and number sense. Starting with basic number recognition on easy levels, as well as addition/subtraction, number sequences, and numerical relationships on higher levels. Number words can be heard in 7 different languages (English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Italian).
- The ABCs realm contains questions that test alphabet recognition, alphabetic order, beginning sounds, early spelling, and more.
There is a choice between Easy, Medium, and Hard, which can rather neatly be divided into kindergarten, first grade, and second grade levels. Kids can earn treasures that are stored in the playroom at each level. There is also a Skills Matrix which is a form of a handy progress report.
Quite honestly, after reviewing the company's other Piggy title, Piggy in Numberland which was jam-packed with activities, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed that Piggy's Birthday Present focused only around the dot-to-dot and coloring activities. However, the kids didn't notice a bit. This program is highly popular with the 2, 5, and 8 year old testers. It is very well done and entertaining, and despite the narrow focus in terms of gameplay, there is a whole lot of content here with 2000+ questions in all.
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 100 Mhz processor, 16 Mb RAM, and 4X CD ROM, with 33 Mb of hard drive space needed.
identifying numbers 1-20, number sequences (up to 200), odd and even number sequences, skip counting, simple addition and subtraction, finding missing addend, comparisons of numbers, upper- and lowercase letter recognition, alphabetic sequence, letter/sound association, beginning and ending sounds, sight recognition of simple words, spelling, spelling with rhyming words, phonics, abbreviations, contractions
Learning of carefully sequenced language arts and math activities is automatic as children play the games.
The activities are original variations on timeless tried-and-true formats (dot-to-dots and coloring activities). This program definitely attracts a crowd of children when it is on, and the attention span for the program was unusually high compared to many programs on the market. Kids were highly motivated to complete the murals and build up their stash of treasures.
With easy controls, intuitive navigation, progress reports, and the use of clearly defined difficulty levels, this program is very thoughtfully put together.
Kids will return to the program often -- at the very least, to fill up their murals and collect their treasures, but also for the 2000+ questions and simple dot-to-dots and coloring activities.
The complete school version includes 2 CDs, an excellent teacher's guide with workbook pages and suggestions for activities, plus a pencil with a Piggy eraser topper all for $49 US (and as of the date of this review there is a special introductory price of $39 US).
Reviewed: June 1999