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Review CornerSoftware
Sesame Street Baby
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This software title is designed as "lapware" (to be enjoyed by adults along with their young children). It makes an ideal "starter" program, and boasts friendly graphics and activities that are varied and fun.
Ages: 1-3   Subject: Early Learning  Brand: Encore Software
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
Sesame Street Baby Product Overview
This is a repackaging of the software title, Sesame Street Baby & Me, originally released in 1999. Designed as an introduction to the computer for babies and toddlers, this title features a combination of mouse- and keyboard-driven activities.

Sesame Street characters Elmo and Baby Natasha greet children in the opening screen, and invite them to play with the Sesame Street gang. Sesame Street's very own Bob McGrath offers narration and songs along the way.

The program's activities are divided into Baby Natasha's Keyboard Activities and Baby Natasha's Mouse Activities. The eight keyboard activities are designed so that children's random tapping of keys on the keyboard elicit onscreen reactions. Adults use the mouse to move from screen to screen, and to return to the main menu. In one activity, entitled Peek-A-Boo, Big Bird, Elmo, or Ernie are hiding in various milieus, and children must tap a key to "find" them. Any key will do! Other activities help familiarize young children with letters, numbers, and shapes; animals and the sounds they make; new vocabulary words; and more. Songs and "do what I do" games are also featured.

The mouse-driven activities require the most basic of mouse skills. Children need only move the mouse without having to "click" in order to activate objects and games. Moving from one activity to the next requires navigating with the keyboard, so an adult must again be present. The activities in this set are especially helpful for teaching children to associate swipes of the mouse with the movements of the cursor onscreen.

A nice personalization option is offered in which parents import their own digital photos into the Elmo's Goofy Gallery activity. Though the program's images in the gallery are enough to please young children, the addition of personal photos is a definite plus.

Ideal for the youngest of computer users, this software responds to a child's input directly -- there's no waiting or confusion. Sesame Street Baby is particularly useful for introducing children to the interactive nature of computer games. The only problem is that once children have mastered the workings of the mouse, the program's design makes it difficult for them to play independently. This is due to the fact that navigation from one activity to the next requires use of the keyboard in the mouse activities and the mouse in the keyboard activities!

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/Me/2000, Pentium-class 266 MHz, 32 MB of RAM, 8X CD-ROM, and 28 MB of hard drive space.

Skills Covered
Children learn about numbers, colors, letters, shapes, music, animals, rhyming, listening skills, vocabulary, cause and effect, parts of the body, and seasons of the year.

Educational Value
Nice coverage of academic basics as well as plenty of opportunities to boost vocabulary make this program valuable as an educational tool. The program is also ideal for familiarizing children with the concept of cause-and-effect and the basic workings of the mouse.

Entertainment Value
The graphics are not as smooth as those in the newer Sesame Street titles, but they are eye-catching and appealing. Especially enjoyable activities are featured. The program offers toddler-pleasing games like peek-a-boo in addition to fun songs.

Navigation is somewhat awkward -- in both sets of activities, parents must handle the navigation. As a result, when children are ready to play the program independently, this title's design makes the task near impossible. However, as true lapware, Sesame Street Baby offers the youngest computer newcomers a chance to play, with direct feedback for their efforts.

The game's activities are very appealing and varied enough to hold interest.

Dollar Value
The suggested retail price for this program is approximately $20 US.

Released: 2002
Reviewed: May 2002