With JumpStart Frankie's Field Trip PreK-1st, children climb aboard a school bus for a series of four field trips led by Frankie the Dog. Embedded within the field trip format are many learning games. To teach navigation, Frankie gives kids clues about what direction they should go. At each intersection, kids use the arrow keys on the DVD controller to direct the bus. Frankie's hints might include a reference to following a fence along the road, or to turning towards a pond.
Kids also face many problem-solving situations. When they arrive at each of the four field trip locations, they are given four clues to help them to determine where they are. For example, at the post office, kids will find a truck with a bell that rings, a huge stack of packages, a bag full of letters, and a machine that sells stamps. Thereafter, kids are shown a map with pictures and word labels of all the locations. They must select the correct one.
Other problem-solving games include sorting the post office's packages by color and shape, and navigating through a maze at the farm. At the fire station, kids play an arcade game involving pushing the up or down arrows to jump over or duck under objects obstructing their progress. Kids will also practice phonics, tell time, and follow directions to create scrapbooks. Additional learning is introduced through songs.
Frankie's Field Trip is a visual delight with crisp, boldly colored animations that are cute and entertaining. The controls are set up to ensure success. If children don't answer correctly, the program either tells them to try again, or it eliminates the wrong answers. If children don't interact, the DVD story continues anyway.
This DVD game does an excellent job of using the limited DVD technology to create an interactive learning environment for children. It even saves the child's progress at certain points. Unfortunately, the DVD controllers have numerous buttons, not just the "Enter" and four directional arrow buttons used in this game. Since young children love to push buttons, parents may need to help with the controller use. Most of the extraneous buttons on the controller will simply not engage, but if kids push either the "Stop" or "Power" buttons, they will lose their progress.
The Frankie's Field Trip box suggests that it is appropriate for ages 3-6. If parents want to explore this title with preschoolers, they should be ready to help because some of the instructions, mechanics, and content are too challenging for the littlest ones. It is best played by kids in kindergarten and first grade.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.