[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Review CornerSoftware
Reading Blaster for Kindergarten
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
A friendly and encouraging title for pre- and early readers, Reading Blaster for Kindergarten is well-designed, content-rich, and loads of fun.
Award of Excellence
Ages: 4-6   Subject: Reading/Pre-reading/Spelling  Brand: Knowledge Adventure
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
 
 
Reading Blaster for Kindergarten Product Overview
Young readers are brought into a wonderful underwater world full of games and activities designed to build reading skills. G.C. and Blaster are familiar characters from the Blaster line of products, but are updated and new, and they serve as the guides for the activities. There are 5 skill levels that not only cover kindergarten reading curriculum, but also review preschool skills and touch upon first grade content as well. There are 9 activities in all, with 5 main ones, as follows:
  • Letter Dive is an arcade-style activity in which kids must click on bubbles to catch the letters in the given order.
  • In Hidden Pictures, kids uncover colorful scenes piece by piece by grouping objects into categories — on level one, kids may group pictures into categories like pets, toys, and vegetables; on level three, pictures are grouped into words that rhyme.
  • Sea Horse Race involves clicking on answers in order to advance and win a race.
  • Sand Dollar Matching is a memory game that gets more advanced as the level progresses.
  • In Clam Shell Scramble, kids rearrange the letters into the correct order to spell 3- and 4- letter words.
A "treasure" is earned after mastery over each level, and can be printed up in the Treasure Room. There are more activities to be found in the Treasure Room:
  • Word Cards is an electronic version of the popular magnetic poetry board. These word cards can be printed.
  • Creativity Section involves playing around with stamps of pictures, symbols, letters, numbers, and even words.
  • In Color your Hidden Pictures kids can print out all the pictures they have uncovered in the Hidden Pictures activity to color away from the computer.
  • Stories contains 8 different stories, with titles like "Big Things" and "Look and See", that can be read aloud and/or printed.
There is a star chart that shows a graph of each level of each activity, and as each level has been mastered, a star appears in the chart, giving a visual view of a child's progress. Parents can get an idea how their children are doing through a progress chart that shows a mastery percentage per activity.

Kids are introduced to 450+ vocabulary words. Earning treasures and stars can be a strong motivating factor. We love the range of difficulty levels for this game! In fact, a 3 year-old tester is choosing this game over her other favorites. The 5 year-old played at her own level very comfortably, and it looks like this game can grow with her budding reading abilities.

Also included is a Blaster Sticker Maker which requires Avery Kids sticker sheets. Kids love to create and print their own stickers using the Blaster characters, various backgrounds, and clip art.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98, a Pentium 90 processor, 16 Mb RAM (32 Mb RAM recommended), and 4X CD ROM. Mac users require a Power Mac with 32 Mb RAM, System 7.5.3 or higher, and at least 4X CD ROM.

Skills Covered
uppercase and lowercase letter recognition, spelling 3- and 4-letter words, matching rhyming words and pictures, grouping words into categories, recognizing opposite words, matching beginning sounds to pictures and words, matching letters to their phonetic sounds, alphabetizing, putting simple sentences together, distinguishing between same and different, vocabulary

Educational Value
There is an excellent range of educational content in this program. It goes beyond letter and word recognition by covering other important reading skills such as categorizing, comprehension, and matching. The 5 levels of difficulty ensure that children will grow with the program. While many activities are arcade style, there are explore activities included as well to provide children with the opportunity to experiment with their newfound skills.

Entertainment Value
Kids found the theme of the program and the activities themselves to be tremendous fun. Children who enjoy the challenge of arcade-style games will be particularly attracted to this title — yet the challenges of these games are very gentle, and shouldn't intimidate children who shy away from this style.

Design
Navigation is straightforward. We found the Hidden Pictures activity to be somewhat frustrating at first, because of its need for especially accurate clicking on the various objects. This program is packed with thoughtful features including skills charts, a progress tracker, and 5 adjustable levels of difficulty for each activity.

Replayability
There is an excellent amount of content with a wide range of skill levels that contribute to the replay value of this title. Additionally, the games are fun and contain motivating rewards.

Dollar Value
This title retails for approximately $30 US.

Released: 1999