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Review CornerSoftware
Sunbuddy Writer
Rating: four and a half stars
The Bottom Line
A simple and easy to use word processor for early writers, Sunbuddy Writer is a well-designed program.
Ages: 5-8   Subject: Writing  Brand: Sunburst Communications
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Technically Speaking  Design  Skills Covered  Replayability  Educational Value  Dollar Value
Sun Buddy Product Overview
Sunbuddy Writer is an easy to use word processor/writing tool for kids in grades K-2, hosted by some adorable animated animals called the Sunbuddies. It is customizable for each student, which means that you can choose to have a lot of options open to students, or a little, depending on the child. The basic writing tools include bold text, italics, large or big text. Kids can also change a word into its equivalent picture with a simple press of the button, if it is in the Word Finder list. They can change it back easily too. There are 6 other possible writing tools that are optional. These include cut, copy, and paste tools, recording options, the ability to "save as", and the "undo" button.

The Word Finder list contains 75+ words to choose from, and contains word categories like animal, food, transportation, home, school, and more. When kids use words from the list in their stories, they can easily toggle between the rebus picture and the written word.

The stories can be printed either with four story pages on one sheet to create mini-books or as large books with a whole sheet per page. There is a record button that allows kids to narrate their stories, add sound effects, and play instruments into the microphone. The page breaks are automatic.

Story Starters are included -- 6 ideas on screen that can be edited. Additionally, you can add your own. The story ideas are very basic, such as "When I go to the zoo, I like to...". For much more interesting ideas, look to the excellent manual -- or Teacher's Guide. It contains page after page of age-appropriate activity ideas. An example is a Names Necklaces activity in which kids create rebus necklaces that spell their name. Others include ones that help get kids familiar with the various tools, like the cut and copy functions, and that give instructions for kids to create a book folder.

This program has less options than a program like Writing Blaster Ages 6-9, and therefore is easier to use. For this reason, it is probably best suited for children in Kindergarten and early first grade. For example, it doesn't incorporate paint tools like Writing Blaster Ages 6-9. The interface in Sunbuddy Writer is much less confusing, and much more intuitive.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are a 486 DX/2 66, 5 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. Mac users require a 68040 with 4 Mb RAM, System 7.0 or higher, and at least 2X CD ROM. The program can run from the CD and it will require only 1.5 Mb of hard drive space. Alternatively, it can be run from the hard drive and will take up 70 Mb.

Skills Covered
creative writing, creative thinking, spelling, computer tools.

Educational Value
A word processor for kids is a valuable educational tool - the possibilities are endless, as it goes beyond creative writing to include such things as reading skills, spelling, organization, vocabulary and more.

Entertainment Value
The Sunbuddies are cute characters, but they are not around very much. The word processor is the main focus of the program.

An interesting feature added to the program is the option of using the keyboard controls -- and they are the universal ones like Ctrl-C in Windows for "copy". The program is very easy to use, and most children in the suggested age group will have no problems figuring out what to do.

This program is very versatile -- there is a lot to do with a bit of imagination and the excellent suggested activities outlined in the Teacher's Guide.

Dollar Value
The home version is only $20 US which is an excellent value, and the school version is $60 US.

Released: 1997