Junie B. asks the player to share a special two-person journal with her. The journal has six chapters in which to play. In two of the chapters, Junie B. Jones encourages the player to peek inside her journal to read her “personal beeswax.” Junie B. shares information about herself and her feelings, including things that make her “sweaty and nervous and scared.”
While reading Junie B’s journal, the player can get help with words she doesn’t know by touching the Leapster stylus to the screen to have them read aloud. There is also a way to have each journal entry read aloud by Junie B.
After checking out Junie B.’s “personal beeswax,” Junie B. encourages the player to contribute her own personal information. Most pages offer a writing prompt (i.e. “My hair is:”), and then help with the process of writing by providing a list of words from which to choose. Occasionally, girls will be asked to spell words using an onscreen alphabet and the stylus.
Another chapter teaches girls how to create poetry by using templates. As girls select words from lists, those words are inserted into the poetry template and read out loud.
Two other chapters focus on creating artwork. In one called “Photo Album,” girls create mock photographs by starting with an outline of a head and then adding body parts by clicking through choices for hair, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, skin color, and more. The “photos” can end up pretty zany because the nose choices include elephant’s trunks and other whimsical choices.
There are also three word games which can be played with a friend. In one, girls play a game that teaches parts of speech. Word search and word scramble round out the selection. The software offers tutorials to help with these activities.
Writing is difficult for beginning readers because they don’t know how to spell many words. This software’s format of encouraging self-expression by selecting from word lists instead of making children spell, empowers youngsters to write. It also helps them read difficult words because each word can be read aloud by touching it with the Leapster stylus.
Junie B. Jones is a very expressive little girl. Her openness and excitement in sharing is so contagious that little girls want to share their “personal beeswax” with her. Because this writing environment is interactive and encouraging, even reluctant writers are willing to join in the fun.
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