Preschoolers can meet new friends, go on missions, and play learning games in the new JumpStart Advanced Preschool World. In this PC game, kids are free to explore a charming world of rainbow-colored waterfalls and grassy knolls, and play with its animated animal friends.
Unlike the three previously released JumpStart World software titles for kindergarten, first and second grades, this product does not link to the Internet for new content; all the content in this game is installed when you load the four CD-ROMs. Expansion packs for this game should be available in the fall.
Preschoolers start by designing their own avatar from an easy-to-use menu of choices that include skin tone, hair style, eyes, mouth, nose, and clothing. Once you have designed a character to represent you, he or she enters JumpStart World.
In JumpStart World there are six animal friends who want to play with you. You start in a place called My Neighborhood where you meet Frankie the Dog. Frankie introduces you to the rest of the characters and, as he does so, you learn lessons about friendship, sharing, health, and following directions, The characters also encourage you to play learning games. As you do things for the characters, you learn about your new neighborhood.
My Neighborhood has a library with an ABC book that you can help create and other books that you can earn by going on missions. These books are printable.
The My Neighborhood also has a house that is yours to design. You can watch short movies in the Movie House, which features children singing songs like "Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes." There's a giant slide to ride, springboard platforms to jump on, and lakes to swim (with floaties on your arms, and Frankie acting as your life guard).
While helping your new friends with their problems, you earn pages to a book. Sometimes your friends need help finding things like a toy that is a blue triangle. They may ask you to take a photo of a friend, using the onscreen photo icon. And frequently, you are told to go to the Learning House to earn gold stars and presents by playing the educational games. There are 12 learning games, covering letters of the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, and more.
When you have earned all the pages to the book in My Neighborhood, a new location called My Craft Corner opens up. You can now travel between the two locations by clicking on a map. As in My Neighborhood, your friends are there with you in My Craft Corner, and they send you on missions to earn pages to a new book. In the process, you discover the fun things to do in this new location. In the Art House, you will be asked to create a masterpiece, using a simple paint program; and once you are finished, you can display it on one of the billboards in this world. You will also plant flowers, based on the character's preferences; so, for example, you will need to find the green pot in which to plant a green square flower.
After you earn a book in My Craft Corner, My Town opens up with five more missions and additional buildings and games to explore. There you will learn about numbers by shopping, and about musical instruments in the Music House.
JumpStart Advanced Preschool World is a feast for the eyes and senses. Butterflies float by, birds sing, and the friendly characters teach by sharing experiences. They will talk about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, of exercising, and brushing your teeth daily. They explain how having friends means sharing your things and ask children to do that in the game.
The learning games do a good job of introducing preschool concepts, although at times, they don't provide enough help when the preschooler doesn't know the correct answer. For example, in a dot-to-dot game of clicking on numbers in numerical order, if your child doesn't know what number comes next, the game suggests trying again without highlighting the correct number.
Jumpstart Advance Preschool World creates an immersive 3D world where preschoolers can romp with friendly characters to accomplish missions and play learning games. Parents can personalize the program by selecting holidays to celebrate (including their child's birthday) and uploading digital photos of loved ones to populate the many billboards. The Parent Corner lets parents check their child's progress. For $30, there's a lot of fun and learning to be had.
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