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Review CornerSoftware
Time, Money & Fractions Grades 1-2
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This "electronic workbook" pairs practical math exercises with arcade games as rewards. Complete with interactive demonstrations in addition to math drills, this CD-ROM/printed workbook set nicely complements first and second-grade curriculum by focusing on three essential math concepts.
Ages: 6 to 8   Subject: Math/Logic   Brand: School Zone Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
Practicing math at home has just become a lot more fun. This program offers a pleasing, computerized approach to tackling curriculum-based workbooks. Zeroing in on three important math concepts from first and second grade curriculum, Time, Money & Fractions provides kids with opportunities to practice counting coins, telling time, and exploring fractions in an encouraging and colorful environment. This program is part of a helpful line of CD-ROMs by School Zone Interactive based on--and packaged with--School Zone's popular printed workbooks.

After children sign in, they receive a short and to-the-point tutorial on how to use the program. After this, kids are presented with a total of 30 workbook pages, one page at a time. These electronic worksheets are dressed up with colorful cartoon-like images and set to a playful and pleasing musical soundtrack. Humorous animations appear between pages, and arcade-style games can be enjoyed each time children have attempted two worksheets.

Exercises include dragging coins to "banks" in order to make a given amount (like 51 cents), demonstrating a given fraction by adding parts to shapes, setting clocks to requested times, and more.

Kids keep track of their progress with 30 color-coded horseshoes that line the bottom of the pages, each of which represents a page in the set. The horseshoes change color once kids have attempted the problems on a page--they're red if a page has been graded with incorrect answers, and green if the page has been successfully completed.

Each workbook page is graded automatically. Correct answers earn a star, and incorrect answers are marked with a red checkmark. Kids can return to the pages containing errors at any time. If they want to earn a certificate, they must complete each set of workbook pages with 100% mastery. This may sound a little harsh, but it actually works well. The program is never discouraging, and kids have no time limits for correcting their answers. This encourages kids to think about the mistakes they have made, and fix them. If they need help, they can simply click on the instructions to have them read aloud, or on the question mark icon for a more specific tutorial.

The arcade-style activities can be challenging at times, yet have little educational value. However, kids adore these games, and they help boost the overall appeal of the program. This title features three such games--players need to bounce a ball into their opponent's net while playing goalie to their own; race a car around a track without spinning out on oil slicks; and catch falling watermelon seeds in a bowl before they hit the floor.

Unlike many of the titles in the School Zone On-Track series, the pages are organized sequentially so that new exercises build upon the skills developed in previous ones. Nevertheless, kids are allowed to skip backward or forward to any page simply by clicking on a horseshoe.

A notable feature of this program is the addition of three open-ended activities that allow kids to experiment with and explore each of the three math topics. These are simple but powerful interactive demonstrations. Fractions are demonstrated in a visual manner as kids toggle the numbers of the numerator and denominator and observe how parts of a large shape change as a result. In order to experiment with time, kids change the settings of a digital time clock and observe the corresponding time on the analog clock. When kids need extra practice with coin values, they add coins to a "bank" and watch the total change accordingly.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98 or higher, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, and 50 MB hard drive space. Mac users require a Power PC 150 MHz, System 7.6.1 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, and 50 MB hard drive space.

Skills Covered
Players work with coin recognition; coin values; adding coins; congruent parts; fractions; telling time to the hour, half hour, and quarter hour; and digital and analog time.

Educational Value
In addition to straightforward and appealing skills practice, the program offers three open-ended activities designed for kids to explore each of the featured math topics. The inclusion of these simple but effective demonstrations of time, money, and fractions means this title is not only about math drills. The program's format helps boost users' confidence with math.

Entertainment Value
The program's use of vibrant color on white backgrounds, delightful drawings and animations, and arcade-style game breaks encourage kids to eagerly practice essential math skills at home. Children are drawn to the program, and its easy-to-use format makes this title all the more inviting. Kids come away from each session with a sense of accomplishment.

A simple progress report is available, and once kids achieve 100% mastery, they earn a certificate and unlimited access to the games. The design of the program is brilliantly simple and invites independent play. Instructions are provided in both text and audio format, and kids can quickly interrupt animations and games with simple clicks of the mouse.

Though the exercises on each workbook page remain the same format for each session, the problems themselves are shuffled, helping to keep the program fresh over time. The title's bright presentation is motivating for most kids.

Dollar Value
This program carries a suggested retail price of $19.99 US.

Released: 2001
Reviewed: January 2001