School Zone Spelling Grades 1-3 bundles two different CD-ROM software games into one package: Spelling Grades 1-2 for kids ages five to seven and Spelldown Grades 2-3 for kids ages six to eight. Each of the two games includes over 1700 words and allows kids to add their own spelling words. Here's a closer look at what each game provides.
Spelling Grades 1-2
This software incorporates the drilling of spelling words into an adventure game that takes place in the ocean. While under the sea, you can click on three locations to explore three different kind of spelling games.
Clicking on the large shell launches a word puzzle game where 20 spelling words are presented in a jumbled format. One-by-one, you fix the spelling words by clicking on letters to switch places. When you rearrange the letters correctly to spell a word, it turns green and the word is read aloud and spelled back to you.
The sunken ship houses a game about typing words. The program shows you a list of 20 words and then asks you to spell each one. In the sunken cavern, the program drills 20 words by having them appear on the screen along with misspelled versions of the same word. You have to click on the correctly spelled version.
In each of these games, the spelling of five correct words triggers an event where you see a trapped fish become rescued. Spell 10 words correctly and you earn a prize decoration for your own lagoon.
This process of spelling words is fun because all of the games use cute animated fish to applaud your good work; and they do fun things like play in a musical band when you are successful. The game employs successful spelling strategies like seeing the spelling list before you start the game, and having the words spoken aloud and spelled back to you. However, when you add your own words, the program asks you to say them instead of speaking them for you.
Spelldown Grades 2-3
This program employs a game-show mechanic to make the spelling of words fun. You can either play against the computer or a friend in a two-person option.
In this spelldown, kids buzz in to answer spelling questions. The types of questions vary, but include: word searches, fill in the blank sentences, unscrambles, listen and then spell, guess the word as letters slowly appear and fix the word where three words are shown and one is misspelled. Each round is five minutes long; and each question has a time limit. The quicker you answer a question, the higher your score. You compete against the computer or your friend for the highest score.
Playing Spelldown is quite engaging. The off-screen show host has just the right amount of verve in his big booming voice. Because you are competing in a game to earn points, you are motivated to study the words presented to you before you start each round. The ability to add your own words to the Spelldown is key, and it makes learning the weekly spelling list an easy event.
Here's the bottom line about School Zone Spelling Grades 1-3: it makes the learning of spelling words fun. Both games create motivation to learn spelling by rewarding prizes or creating excitement through the buzz-in of a game show. The games automatically adjust the difficulty of the spelling words depending on how your child is doing. They also provide tons of positive reinforcement and let your child learn at his or her own speed. Plus, this bundle of two well-made spelling CD-ROM games is a steal at $24.99. The programs load quickly and play on both Windows and Mac computers. If your kids are the right age, grab School Zone Spelling Grades 1-3 to provide a nice change from the monotonous process of drilling from a spelling list.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.