Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online is a subscription-based broadband product offering educational content that changes every two weeks. This product is exciting because most of the activities adjust up or down in difficulty depending on how the preschooler is mastering the content presented.
When families first join, the content downloads in multiple segments over several days. Families must use a broadband connection and must be running Internet Explorer with Windows 98 or newer operating system on a computer with a Pentium III or faster processor.
Kids are greeted by Bear from the Bear in the Big Blue House television show. He guides kids through the biweekly learning adventure, which features games with characters from Playhouse Disney shows including Winnie the Pooh, Mickey & Friends, Jo-Jo's Circus, Higglytown Heroes, Stanley, Rolie Polie Olie, and The Koala Brothers. Parents can change the play mode to "Discovery" which permits kids to explore all the activities in any order. In addition to the bi-weekly content, additional content can be found in the Backyard area of the product.
By playing games with characters like Pooh or Stanley, kids learn preschool skills that cover reading and math readiness, thinking, social, daily living, and imagination and self-expression. For example, in one game, kids direct Piglet down a path to find honey pots for Pooh. When they finish exploring the path, preschoolers will discover that they have traced a letter of the alphabet. Each biweekly installment has its own theme like "Bravery" or "Healthy Habits."
This product provides excellent value for families looking to use the computer with their preschooler. The ad-free content received every two weeks is the equivalent of what is found on typical preschool CD-ROMs costing $20. Families will get 26 of these content installments during a year, and yet the product only costs $49.95. The graphics are TV quality and are accompanied by engaging songs and dialog.
Preschool Time Online uses voice-over content so no reading is required—a must for good preschool programming. Because the difficulty of the biweekly content adjusts on the fly, it grows with the child, but this is not the case with the extra content found in the Backyard.
Preschool Time Online provides parents with a separate area to track their children's progress (up to five children). It also offers additional materials including printables and an excellent online game that teaches kids how to use the mouse and keyboard. Parents needn't worry that their kids will accidentally end up on another website because the format locks kids inside the program until a parent enters a login code to let them exit.
Preschool Time Online
, while exciting, isn't perfect. The navigation can be a bit confusing for preschoolers trying to play it alone. A few of the activities start at too difficult a level. Also we could not get the musical art activity located in the Backyard to work.
Parents with preschoolers and a broadband connection can try to product for a week for free at www.preschooltime.com
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.