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Review CornerSoftware
Reader Rabbit 1st Grade (with Learning Creations)
Rating: four stars
The Bottom Line
This is a highly entertaining and educational first-grade software title that kids will return to time and time again.
Ages: 5-7   Subject: Curriculum  Brand: The Learning Company
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Pros & Cons  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
Reader Rabbit 1st Grade Product Overview
Reader Rabbit hosts this general curriculum title in Wordville, where everyone is getting ready for the opening night of a big musical show. Trouble is brewing, and town members discover that all the props for the show have been stolen! Your child can help "let the show go on" by playing the 12 activities found by traveling the 4 paths from the Town Square.

Each path leads to a gateway activity which introduces a learning concept that represents the theme of that location, and contains 2 levels. Next, there is a skillbuilder that helps kids learn a skill, and a play-and-learn activity that encourages exploration of new concepts. Both of these activities contain 3 levels of difficulty that advance automatically. Every time kids complete a round of the 2 latter types of activities, they earn a prop or costume for the musical show.

The activities are as follows:

In Professor Owl's Treehouse, language arts activities await:

  • Doorbell Spell Gateway involves finding a missing letter in the word on Owl's door in order to unlock it.
  • Word Bird involves listening to Professor Owl and clicking on the correct beginning, ending, or middle sound. This will assist Penelope with learning her lines for the big show.
  • In Silly Scripts, Owl has forgotten some of the words in the scripts that she has written.
At Papa Bear's Store, math skills are developed:
  • Week Creek Gateway involves helping Reader Rabbit hop across the creek by arranging the turtles in the order of the days of the week.
  • Make costumes for the show in Costu-Matic, then pay for them with the correct change.
  • Costume Count involves adding and subtracting costume pieces.
Pierre's Studio is the creative location:
  • Autograph Hound Gateway involves choosing a picture of Reader Rabbit that matches the feelings the fan is referring to.
  • In Pattern Piano, Pierre plays the music while Mat tries learning her dance. Kids help by repeating music patterns.
  • Kids make their very own billboards that are displayed on the paths to town in the Billboards activity.
There's a science theme at Babs' Workshop:
  • In Animal Geography Gateway kids have to pick the animal prop that doesn't belong.
  • Measure It! involves estimating and measuring with irregular objects.
  • Prop Sorter involves sorting animals into categories (for example, these animals have two legs, or these animals are mammals).
When all activities are complete, the Musical Show can go on! The ending is a uniquely interactive one.

Reader Rabbit 1st Grade was first published in 1998 and has since been updated, this time with new Learning Creations activities. In the Clubhouse, kids can play one of two activities:

  • In Create a Calendar, kids use stamps to decorate a calendar scene and to add different icons to the days of the month.
  • In Make a Masterpiece, children do a simple paint activity with paints, stamps, and alphabet stamps. They can mix colors to create new ones.
These "extra" activities are accessible at the beginning of the program, but once kids embark on the adventure, they need to click on POP to go back to them. However, the activities found in the adventure far outshine these clubhouse ones, and it is dubious whether kids will return to them after the first few plays.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Windows 3.1, a 486 processor, 8 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. Mac users require a Macintosh Quadra, Performa, Power Mac or higher with 8 Mb RAM, System 7.1 or higher, and at least 2X CD ROM.

Pros & Cons
I recommend this software often because it is fun, age-appropriate, and contains some unique activities as well. Two things that stand out and prove that a lot of thought is behind this title -- an activity centering on identifying emotions and feelings (something that is not always covered in multi-subject grade-based software), and the fact that the children's billboard creations are displayed throughout the town helps to boost self-esteem and helps kids develop pride in their work.

Note: This updated Reader Rabbit 1st Grade with Learning Creations is currently being packaged with a free PokéROM mini-CD-ROM sampler.

Skills Covered
reading comprehension, spelling, phonics, basic mathematics, addition & subtraction, counting money, simple fractions, days of the week, months of the year, problem solving, measuring & estimating, identifying emotions, science & ecology, animal traits & habitats, creativity, music

Educational Value
The 3 different types of activities in each pathway is a nice feature — kids benefit from skill-building as well as exploratory activities.

Entertainment Value
The characters and scenes are very inviting and engaging. Kids will enjoy trying to collect the various props and saving the day! The ending is not anti-climactic -- instead, players are treated to a rewarding interactive ending.

Difficulty levels advance automatically, but some kids may prefer to have control over these levels. Clicking on POP will exit the program, but it may take a bit of time to figure that one out. Besides these points, a lot of thought seems to have gone into the game.

This title combines an adventure theme with non-linear free-play paths, and is entertaining enough that kids will come back to it often. Motivational rewards add to replay value.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM sells for $30 US. It is currently packaged with a sampler PokéROM mini-CD-ROM.

Released: 1998
Reviewed: August 2000