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Children's Software Review:

JumpStart Reading with Karaoke (CD-ROM)

PC Software Review: Jump Start Reading with Karaoke
Children's Computer Game for the PC

By Knowledge Adventure

Our Recommended Age: Ages 5-6

Released: 2005

Our Rating: A+

about our reviews:
All reviews at Edutaining Kids are independent and impartial. Our children's software reviews are designed to help parents and caregivers find the right computer games for their kids. Evaluations and ratings are based on educational and entertainment value, age appropriate content, appeal, and innovativeness.

Top Pick We're impressed with both the entertainment and educational value of the new JumpStart Reading with Karaoke computer game. This game uses Voice Activated Learning that adds a new, high-quality level of interaction to an already excellent learn-to-read format.

Kids meet Val, a clear-speaking cat who hosts the game. Her name is also an acronym for "Voice Activated Learning"—a feature that adds value to the program, but that can be bypassed if desired. Some years ago, JumpStart Phonics was released, and its use of voice recognition technology was unique but imperfect. The program didn't always recognize kids' correct answers, which was a real problem for the targeted age group. The voice recognition technology in JumpStart Reading with Karaoke works smoothly. In fact, we never once came to a point where the technology failed in our testing of the game. The dialogue and audio of the game is also extremely clear.

Children begin each set of activities at Hip Hop Avenue, pictured above. They listen to the song they are about to learn, and then are introduced to some of the words used in the song—the words that can be sounded out phonetically. Later, they'll return here to learn the featured sight words in the song. The first song on level one is "The Big Cat Sat on One Little Mat". Val introduces children to the words "cat", "mat", "sat", "rat", and "bat", one word at a time. She sounds the words out for children, and then asks players to repeat the word into their microphone. The word is then played back. If the wrong word is spoken, Val asks kids to try again. If kids answer incorrectly again, Val tells them the correct pronunciation of the word, and then moves on to the next word in the set.

Once complete, kids move to the Trash Can activity. Children sort word-labeled pieces of trash into Trash Can or Trash Can't according to specific rules. On the lowest level, they identify beginning sounds. Later, kids identify short and long vowel sounds as well as consonant blends and digraphs.

Next, children direct Kisha on her bicycle, picking up pieces of mail and avoiding obstacles. Once the letters are collected, they attach the letters to incomplete words. Kids move on to a new activity in which they help Frankie load his mail truck by building words, and then reading them into their microphone (pictured directly above). If they read or build a word incorrectly, Val helps them out with a hint.

Kids return to Hip Hop Avenue to learn sight words used in the featured song, and then help Frankie and Val deliver packages to their friends. Guiding Frankie's mail truck through the streets is a fun little game. Once complete, they go to their friend's house and choose the correct word-labeled boxes.

The next activity involves jump rope chants. This is a strong activity that reinforces some of the phrases in the song along to a rhythm. At this point, kids will have earned enough tickets to move on to the Jukebox where they can sing the songs karaoke-style. As they sing, they are guided by the words on the screen and slightly muted vocals. However, when they play back the song, it's only their own voice, and it's such fun!

Children begin the whole process again with a new song (and new words) to learn. There are 24 original songs in the game, and they are carefully chosen to include age-appropriate sets of words and word families. The performance is excellent as well—the songs are written by Christopher Smith, a Kindergarten teacher, and delivered by the Big Fins. The rhymes and rhythms are catchy, and they certainly make learning words easier.

The graphics are quite engaging, and feature smooth and visually interesting scrolling, 3D figures, and bright colors.

The program can be played without the microphone, but kids are still prompted, and required, to click on the microphone button as they play. If they do, the program reads the words for them. Note that a microphone is included in the software package.

The program is best for children who know their letters and who understand the concept that sounds are attached to letters.

Important: A DirectX 9.0-compatible 3D video card is a minimum requirement for this game. The saved songs in the


  • Well-designed, clear and effective learning system that incorporates voice recognition technology seamlessly.
  • Large content.
  • Variety of activities helps to keep kids engaged, and offsets the issue of repetition (which is necessary for learning to read).


  • System requirements may be too high for many families' kids' computers.

See also: More screenshots from the game

Our Rating:


more information:

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Reviewed: October 2005

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