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Article:    Software for Preschoolers, Rated & Compared

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Educational preschool software games are the focus of this article, in which we compare four computer games designed specifically for preschoolers, and offer synopses of other age-appropriate software games.

All-Purpose Preschool Programs

All-Purpose Preschool Program Comparison Chart

  Blue's Clues Preschool

 

Disney Learning Preschool  JumpStart Advanced Preschool Reader Rabbit Preschool: (Sparkle Star Rescue)
Method Story line: Players earn special items for Miss Marigold's mural by participating in 5 learning activities.
3 CD-ROMs, 2 of which are all-purpose preschool titles featuring Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. Plenty of activities.  Program contains skill-building activities focusing on the alphabet, numbers, counting, and sorting skills. Adventure story line with educational activities along the way.
Pros Rather engaging story line; Blue's Clues fans will enjoy interacting with the characters. Fun personalization features. Age-appropriate. Economical, nice variety of activities, well-rounded package. Fun graphics, cute characters. Fun, bright graphics; fun storyline holds the interest of some children.
Cons The activities are somewhat uninspired and not very original. Not integrated (3 different CDs). Rewards and animations are often superfluous. Irregular challenges (some too hard, some too easy). Difficulty levels of activities inconsistent; doesn't cover as much basics as the others.
Best For Fans of the show; children working at standard preschool level. Those looking to add variety to their software collection. Kids who appreciate an ample reward system, cute characters and  variety. Kids who enjoy an adventure format.
Our Rating

 B-

A-

C

B+


Product Details:

We found less magic in Reader Rabbit Preschool Sparkle Star Rescue! than we did in the other Reader Rabbit curriculum-based titles. However, the program is worthwhile for children who enjoy adventures as opposed to open-ended titles. Kids follow Reader Rabbit and the gang as they help restore the sparkle to Sparksalot. As they do, they play educational activities that drill phonics, color recognition, counting, early addition, and other skills. The problem we found with this program lies in the challenge level. Some of the activities fall out of the expected level of challenge for preschoolers—some are very easy, while others are too difficult for the average preschooler. Plenty of songs and gorgeous animations, however, help draw in some preschoolers. Note that a classic edition of Reader Rabbit Preschool is available, and is a completely different product. Rating: B+

[Buy Reader Rabbit Preschool Sparkle Star Rescue or the bundle with a music CD and printables, Reader Rabbit Preschool at Amazon.com]

Blue's Clues Preschool is sound on many levels, except that it could have been better if the featured educational activities were more inspired! As it stands, the activities are not hugely unique. However, the program is entirely age-appropriate, and offers fans of the show the chance to play along with favorite Blue's Clues characters. See our full review. Rating: B-

[Buy Blue's Clues Preschool at Amazon.com]

JumpStart Advanced Preschool is not the best of the JumpStart Advanced series. Its graphics are adorable, but the games are somewhat uninspired. It's not a terrible buy because some children will enjoy the game, but the rewards and distractions are excessive, taking away from the pure fun of learning. The program includes songs and fun graphics that accompany kids as they build preschool skills. Plenty of motivational rewards are here, but as noted, some parents might find there is a little too strong a focus on rewards. Rating: C

[Buy JumpStart Advanced Preschool at Amazon.com]

Disney Learning Preschool is a bundle of 3 CD-ROMs, two of which are all-purpose preschool curriculum titles: Disney Pooh Preschool and Disney's Mickey Preschool. The third title is Stanley Wild for Sharks. Winnie the Pooh Preschool features a format that is fun, although parents might need to pull up a chair and help preschoolers find all of the activities. The beautiful graphics and fun characters in Disney's Mickey Mouse Preschool will entertain children for a time, but replay value is rather low. We didn't recommend this as a stand-alone all-purpose title because of this, but as part of a bundle, the title will add some variety to your preschooler's collection. Rating: A-

[Buy Disney Preschool Bundle (Pooh Pre-School, Mickey Pre-School, and Stanley Wild for Sharks) at Amazon.com]


More All-Purpose Titles

Sesame Street Preschool is a new title that is really quite adorable. It does have some flaws, however--namely, chattiness and slow transitions. Still, kids will laugh as they learn with Sesame Street characters that are true to form. Lots of exposure to letters, words, numbers, counting, and simple addition are featured, and the program's bright screens and original voiceovers will delight kids. The entertainment and educational opportunities make the title worthwhile despite its flaws. Rating: B+ 

[See screenshots from the game. For more information, and to buy, Sesame Street Preschool - 3 Pack at Amazon.com]

Focus on Thinking Skills, Logic, and Early Learning

Top Pick. An exceptional new program stars a big ball of clay with eyes named Ollo. Ollo in the Sunny Valley Fair (see our full review) takes kids on a story-adventure of problem-solving fun. An adorable cast of characters is featured, and educational hotspots make learning easy. This is fabulous, A+ software. Rating: A+

[Buy Ollo in the Sunny Valley Fair at Amazon.com]

Focus on Pre-Math and Pre-Reading

A wonderful program that helps children cozy up to the unique shapes of each letter of the alphabet is Alphabet Express Preschool, an older title that retains its merit. Children "paint" pictures, watch short animations, play dot-to-dot activities, and more with this excellent title that features both uppercase and lowercase letters. Highly recommended. Rating: A 

[Buy: Alphabet Express Preschool at Amazon.com]

Electronic workbooks from School Zone Interactive are very fun ways to practice skills at home. On-Track Same or Different: Preschool, On-Track Shapes: Preschool (our rating: A-), and On-Track Beginning Sounds: Preschool feature bright, colorful workbook pages. Parents will appreciate its age-appropriate content, and kids will actually love playing the fun games and working through the workbook pages. All three have loads of appeal and help reinforce facts, utilizing a workbook format that is well-structured and mirrors school effectively. 

[Buy ShapesBeginning SoundsSame or Different at Amazon.com]

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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April 2002/Updated December 2004
 

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