The Classics

Here's a subjective attempt to list 60 or so children's educational software titles (aka IM) published since the 1980s that we feel helped to raise the bar in terms of quality. Feel free to add your own suggestions. Keep in mind that these reviews were written in the context of the current "state of the art" as published in Children's Technology Review (or perhaps, Children's Software Revue (Buckleitner, Orr and Wolock).

Note from Warren -- If I had the time, I'd annotate this list, and tell you why I think they're "classics." Also, these are in alphabetical order. It would be fun to put them on a timeline [see below]. Finally, this list is only a start. Feel free to add/subtract or clean up the copy. The only thing I ask -- PLEASE CITE REFERENCES. [WB]

3-D Dinosaur Adventure, Knowledge Adventure, Inc., 3-up, 1994, www.knowledgeadventure.com, This version of Dinosaur Adventure comes with 3D glasses, adding a new dimension to the previous version. Features visually exciting movies and games, along with 3-D graphics. This was one of the first of Knowledge Adventure's original titles. Notice that it is a very dated title. See also 3-D Dinosaur Adventure Anniversary Edition.

A Silly Noisy House, Learn Technologies Interactive (Voyager), 3-up, 1992, www.learntech.com, By pointing and clicking on furniture, appliances, bathroom faucets, doorways and corners, children will discover nursery rhymes, riddles, songs, tongue twisters, and many sound effects. The pots and pans in the kitchen play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The CD offers a nice introduction to computers, but is very dated.

AlphaSmart, Renaissance Learning, Inc., E- School Supplement, 6-up, 2006, www.renlearn.com, More a large calculator than a laptop (only for writing instead of crunching numbers) the AlphaSmart Neo has a well-designed QWERTY keyboard and a six-inch LCD screen. Living up to the legacy of prior AlphaSmart keyboards, the AlphaSmart Neo offers a solid writing option at a low cost. It runs on three AA batteries and can easily connect to a Mac or Windows computer, either by USB plug or infrared link. To type a story, you just turn it on and start typing. Neo starts up with a blank screen and a cursor. The word processor, AlphaWord Plus 3.1 is already installed. Instead of function keys, there are eight file buttons; plus specific keys for the most obvious functions such as printing, checking your spelling, and sending a file to a base computer. There is a spell checker and thesaurus when needed. Other programs (or Applets) include a quiz administrator and a calculator. In order to get work to a computer (say for printing), you must first install the AlphaSmart Manager software. This lets you decide where to put work, and which files to print. Files were imported as generic text files--there are no formatting options. For a teacher looking for low cost, no-frills and no hassle, this is a good consideration.

America Online Instant Messanger, America Online, 1994, www.koljunior.com, One of the first commercial web services, along with CompuServe and Prodigy.

Apple Logo, Apple Computer, Corp., D- Middle and High, 6-up, 1982. Originally promoted by Seymour Papert and his team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Children program rotating shapes and designs using commands like RT 90, FD 40 (Right 90 degrees, Forward 40 pixels) -- type the command, and the turtle (or graphic cursor) responds. While kids need a lot of patience as they progress through each step, the program offers an effective means of introducing children to programming concepts. The product comes with several manuals, including a Getting Started guide and a tutorial, which are definitely needed. Papert worked with the team from Bolt, Beranek and Newman, led by Wallace Feurzeig, that created the first version of Logo in 1967.

Backyard Baseball, Humongous Entertainment, 5-10, 2004, www.humongous.com, Sports simulations abound, but those appropriate for children are rare. In fact, this is the first we've seen with children as players. First you select a team name and then pick your team. You can choose from 30 neighborhood children, each with four abilities: batting, running, pitching and fielding. The best part is that each player has his or her own personality, and there are equal number of boys and girls to choose from, several races represented and one child in a wheelchair.
Next, you start playing the games. These can be customized a great deal. For example, you can turn off the crowd sounds or adjust the difficulty level of hitting. There's even a T-ball mode! Games can be saved, which is good as they can easily take up to 30 minutes from start to finish.
When your team is at bat, you select options that control when your player swings, and how hard. Like real baseball, striking out is easy, which frustrated children at first. We thought that the game should be easier to use when first starting out.
In all cases, the longer our testers spent with this program, the more they grew involved with the players and liked the experience. There's also a nice amount of baseball strategy and information mixed into the game. For example, you can observe the various pitches and then test different stances when batting. In all, this is a very entertaining program that will keep even non-baseball fans engaged, providing they get past the first few games. Note that a Playstation 2 version is also available, with slightly different features, smoother feeling gameplay, and different graphics.

Bank Street Writer, Scholastic, Inc., 7-up, 1986, www.scholastic.com, This is one of the very first word processing programs to let kids use large letters for writing. Children can save and print their stories, but this is a dated program with extremely limited features. The last version we reviewed was in 1992.

Big Brain Academy, Nintendo of America, PVA Nintendo DS, 6-up, 2006, www.nintendo.com, Second in the Nintendo Brain series (the first was Brain Age), this multi-player Nintendo DS title is a series of logic puzzles that require focused concentration. The better you do, the more your brain weighs (a tougue-in-cheek measurement of IQ). You start with a pretest which gives you a letter grade and a brain weight, detailing your abilities, and comparing your brain with a famous person. The program then designs a workout regime. This may seem like a tedious, school-like activity, but it proves to be completely addictive. There are five categories of activities and three activities in each category. Each activity starts off easily and then escalates to a frantic race to perform some simple stylus-based action. For example, in Get in Shape the goal is to tap the stylus on the shapes on the bottom screen that make up the silhouette. The silhouettes start off simple (squares and circles), but escalate to complex shapes such as a discus thrower. First time players are helped by the blob-like Dr. Lobe who tells you what to do with the stylus. The movements are always simple and intuitive, and the activities actually do train your brain, providing a fun, unique experience for all ages. In the multiplayer mode, up to eight people can play to see who has the biggest brain, and the results will be displayed for all to see. A demo test can also be sent to another DS.
Sample activities include Heavyweight (choose which object weighs more), Sound Bites (listen to people and animals as they make noise, then try to touch them in the correct order), Memo-Random (examine the panels on the top row, then touch the correct one when the panel is replaced by a question mark), Missing Link (look at the red line in the picture on the top screen and draw it into the picture on the touch screen. Watch out! Some pictures will be inverted.) Coin-parison (choose the panel with the greater amount of money), Written Math (read the problems in word form, then solve them by tapping the number pad on the Touch Screen) and Shadow Shift (tap the images on the Touch Screen that match the spinning shadows on the top screen). See also Big Brain Academy Wii Degree, for the Wii, released June 2007.

Book of LuLu, The, Organa, LLC, ages 5-up, 2000, www.organa.com, This creative interactive book tells the story of a young girl, Lulu, and her unusual friendship with a robot named Mnemo. In search of warmth, Mnemo falls into the book where LuLu lives, and together they journey through page after page of exotic lands. As the story unfolds, the pages of the book become animated and set to music, making the whole experience dreamlike and magical. Anything but your standard children's CD-ROM fare, the program is more artistic than educational. The story has the feel of The Little Prince (it can be read literally or symbolically), and the themes (friendship, our attachments to people and books, etc.) are strong. Children must read the pages of the book and can click in various places to activate animations, but other than that, interactivity is lacking. Still, the story is delightful, and the level of creativity evident in the fantastic animations and presentation provide a memorable experience for both children and grown-ups. (Note that this title has been sold overseas for several years and has only recently become available in the US. Visit www.organa.com for details.)

Color Me, Mindscape, Inc., 3-10, 1986. Our youngest children could use this program with success. It requires a mouse, but can also work with a Koala Pad or joystick. Children can draw, select colors or write. Pictures can be printed in color and saved.

Compton's 3D World Atlas Deluxe, Compton's (The Learning Company), 9-up (our guess), 1998,,This user-friendly multimedia world atlas offers many interesting features. Kids and adults will find facts about every country in the world, 38,000 articles, thousands of web links, 3D rotating globes, close-up satellite photos, of, for instance, the Great Wall of China, and a second CD with a complete set of US road maps. The main CD also features 20,000 photos, illustrations and narrated videos. The atlas is very easy to use and organized in a logical manner, making it quick and painless to find information on whatever place you desire. Note: An older version of the program was formerly called 3D Atlas '95.

Counting Critters, MECC, 3-6, 1985,,Children practice matching numbers, matching sets of objects to numbers, creating sets of objects, and sequencing numbers using dot-to-dots. Clear graphics and sound. Teacher options are available.
Critical Mass, Corbis/Microsoft, 10-up, 1996,,This is a compelling historical documentation of the race to build the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos. Includes a virtual model of Los Alamos that can be explored along with biographies and interviews of each key scientist and actual footage of events. Excellent design, but becoming dated.

Disney's Toontown Online, Buena Vista Games, C- Upper Elementary, 6-12, 2003, www.buenavistagames.com, Update 2006: Rating has been raised to 4.6 due to additional interactive features.
The first massive multiplayer online game exclusively for kids, Toontown is a subscription based CD/web product that one eight year old tester quickly labeled awesome. Note that you'll want DSL or cable modem (always on) service to get the most out of the game. After you sign up for an account, your first order of business is to create and name your avatar, or Toon, which is your cartoon character that will represent you in the game. Next, it's on to the Toon-Torial where you learn how to play the games.
It seems that evil robots called Cogs have taken over Toontown, and it's up to you and all the other kids playing the game to stop them with squirt guns, pies, and other animated gags. Sure, you can take down a Cog on your own, but you soon learn that it's better to cooperate with other kids in a joint attack. You communicate with other players, but only with pulldown menus of canned comments, which keeps the game clean and safe. A buddy chat feature can be enabled by a parent, if desired, for more personal communications on a case-by-cased basis. Other games let you earn jellybeans (Toontown currency), which can be spent at gag shops, to give your Toon more abilities. The bottom line? This is a compelling, well designed, humorous game that keeps children engaged with other kids for hours, in a secure setting. As of July 2003, subscriptions are priced at $10 per month, $50 for 6 months or $80 per year.

Facemaker, Spinnaker Software, 3-8, 1986, Children create faces by selecting from a variety of eyes, ears, noses, mouths, and hair. They can add hats, glasses or bodies to their creations. Fun program. Best for children 4-8 years. Recommended for Apple II computers only. See also Mask Parade.

FLY Pentop Computer, LeapFrog, C- Upper Elementary, 7-up, 2005, www.leapfrog.com, Update, Spring 2006. Leapfrog has announced three new FLYware products; Algebra, Writing and Memorizer.
Leapfrog’s new computing pen FLY can be summarized the way scientists first described the laser—a solution looking for a problem. Our testers were both fascinated and frustrated by their initial FLY experience. Here’s a closer look at the most innovative advance in children’s computing for 2005.
The $99 starter kit comes with one FLY pen, a plastic case, a AAA battery, headphones, a FLY Notebook and a starter set of tutorial activities. From a technology perspective alone, FLY is modern wonder, especially given the amount of technology packed into a sub $100 form factor—that can hopefully survive in a middle schooler’s backpack. The oversized pen has a tiny camera in its tip, that sends 75 images per second to the pen’s onboard computer. The camera detects motion against a background of special, propitiatory faint dots. These dots are like tracks to a train—without them, the pen gets lost and won’t work. So the first thing you need to know about FLY—special paper is involved. It’s not actually the paper... it’s the image printed on the paper. These dots can be printed by any standard printing process with regular inks and are barely visible to the naked eye. There’s no magnets or green go button involved. The pen is powered by one AAA battery; ours lasted four four days of at least two hours per day before needing to be changed. Extra accessories include a cradle charger ($30), headphones (included), speakers ($15) and ink refills ($8); all sold at www.liveonthefly.com.
FLY can do a variety of things, some well and others poorly. Our pen excelled with simple touch and hear applications, where you can tap a clock to hear the time, a baseball card to hear the player's name and position, or country on a map to hear the national anthem. There's never a need to sign in in or register -- the pen knows. Testers loved the journal, where they could touch a sticker and hear a sound, or get advice for a problem. The text to speech process is a disappointment, however. You expect to hear your writing read aloud, but this only happens one single word at a time, with specific applications, or by filling in forms like spelling sheets. We would have liked a more direct write and hear feature to promote free language experimentation. For example, the Spanish Translator, which requires snapping in a different $35 cartridge, lets you hear jotted words one at a time. When it works, it is amazing-- testers would say how does it do that? According to Leapfrog, the pen has a built in lexicon (meaning a library of words that can form intelligent sentences) of 70,000 words, allowing it to become a portable dictionary, thesaurus. Once word recognition is better developed, these language tools will be much more accessible. Oh well, perhaps FLY 2.0? The pen comes with an onboard calculator (sketch your own number pad), several simple games, a clock, and a calendar/day planner. FLY's most exciting potential lies in the least exciting part of a child's life -- homework. Imagine self-correcting worksheets (teachers-- rejoice), with the pen programmed to give hints and instant feedback. Any storybook could become interactive, and any map a geography game. Leapfrog used the game in two board games (baseball and Batman) and a journal designed for two girls. In these roles, the pen suggests turns (player 1, your turn) or becomes a random spinner to assign moves on a board. Testers were not impressed with either the Batman or baseball games, finding the setup process to be to frustrating. Still, the portable form factor of a pen that can be passed from one player to the next breaks new ground for the role technology can play in social relationships.
Never before has there been a writing based tutorial with such immediate, clear feedback. Because the pen won't work unless you write, clear penmanship (remember that?) is a prerequisite skill. Just as Konami's Dance Dance Revolution has somehow made legions of stumbling middle schoolers into graceful dancers, FLY forces children to focus on fine motor handwriting skills. They are forced to slow down and process each letter and word. For spelling lists (one of the better FLY kits), this could be a major breakthrough. Also notable are the games and quizzes where you are asked to construct your own set of words to turn into a quiz. This process helps children feel ownership over the quiz -- it comes from them, not Addison Wesley. Kids find that more than a few pages of wasted FLY paper are required before they learn the pen's sometimes moody temperament. FLY is clear evidence that a computer can take the form of a pen, but clearly there are bugs to be worked out. The current batch of eight software products vary in price and quality, but in general met with a less than enthusiastic response from our testers. The pen is large and clunky to hold (it was called a toothbrush by more than one child) and although they grew used to it, the size rules out extended use by younger children. Children with poor penmanship/fine motor skills had an especially difficult time creating the FLYcons icons. There's also a question of the special consumable paper; once you run out, the pen is ... well, just a pen. The long term success of this medium will lie in the willingness of mainstream publishers to adapt the dotted media format. That said, we were struck by how our seasoned, tech savvy middle school testers reacted to this device. The seemed to sense that it was something new and important. Said one I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I have to have it. We recall the same reaction to the Apple IIe. See the discussion about Dotted Media technology, here.

Food-Force, United Nations World Food Programme, C- Upper Elementary, 8-13, 2005, www.wfp.org, Designed to promote the activities of the UN's World Food Program (WFP), this is a well designed, free, 200 MB downloadable program for Mac or Windows computers. It is fun enough for kids to want to play at home, yet certainly educational enough to fit into any school science and/or social studies curriculum.
In the game, you take on the role of a rookie aid worker en route to the fictitious island of Sheylan, where a drought has created a civil war, leaving thousands of starving people. There are six race-the-clock missions— you learn that time is your worst enemy when people are starving— interspersed with actual video footage of WFP in action. Good work earns a high score, which can be uploaded to the companion web site. In the first mission, you survey the population by steering a helicopter. Next, you make energy packs (pictured) by balancing ingredients (oil, sugar, salt and rice). The third mission is a food drop, where wind speed and drop zones must be considered in order to earn a high score. Mission four is a bit pointless - you are supposed to fill in a food grid by purchasing rice, beans and oil from around the world - it is possible to get a passing score by guessing. The fifth mission, Food Run, involves driving trucks, changing flat tires, building bridges, sweeping for mines and negotiating with armed rebels. In the last mission, you take on the role of a diplomat to disperse food to a village in a balanced way, so that you can support the schools, hospitals, and encourage soldiers to become farmers.
The companion website (www.food-force.com) provides a place for kids to post high scores, and there are lesson plans for teachers. This is a shining example of how an educational simulation can entertain and teach at the same time, but more interesting is the distribution model. We found the game easy to download, but hefty, taking 45 minutes on a 512K DSL connection.

Gertrude's Secrets, The Learning Company, 4-10, 1982, www.learningco.com, Seven attribute puzzles of varying difficulty. Child uses arrow keys or joystick to move through 25 rooms (screens). Children as young as three can do the easiest puzzle, but lose interest. Content is best for ages 5-up. This, and Rocky's Boots (for older children) was one of the first uses of a spatial navigation metaphor in educational software. www.learningco.com

Google Earth, Google, Inc., 7-up, 2005, www.google.com, Have you used Google Earth lately? Since it was first released two years ago, it has continued to improve, with the most current version (4.2) including 3D buildings, site-seeing tours posted by other users, and views of space. Available as a free download, Google Earth is a stellar example of how interactive media can make abstract geographical and spatial concepts leap out of a textbook.
Even though it is not specifically marketed to schools, this is a must-have classroom tool, as long as you have a current Mac or Windows computer with a good Internet connection. If you have that, you now have your own super globe, giving you the ability to search by keyword or address, and then zoom into satellite images. You can see the building you're currently in, or fly along a route. You can also view annotations left by other Google Earth users, such as the 88 locations mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. Younger children can get a sense of how their neighborhood fits into their town, their county, their state, and their continent. Other education applications are numerous—both for mapping and geography—as well as other more indirect uses, including science, history and math. Google Earth is free for personal use, although more powerful versions are available for purchase, offering higher resolution images.

Google.com (search engine), Google, Inc., 6-up, 2000, www.google.com, A fast, powerful search engine for adults. Paid for with sponsored links. Testers report that while there is a filtering option, it is not always effective.

HyperStudio, Knowledge Adventure, Inc., 10-up, 1999, www.knowledgeadventure.com, Note: this review is dated. Please see Hyperstudio 4.
This excellent multimedia authoring tool makes it possible to import text, video and pictures from a variety of sources and mix them in the form of presentations. In addition to being a tool used for the creation of multimedia projects, it serves as an excellent means of introducing kids to programming concepts. It makes it easy to integrate text, video and still shots into projects such as school reports. This individual version is the same as that used in the schools but for just one user. Our school testers use HyperStudio regularly and report that it is the best multimedia authoring tool to date. Also see Microsoft PowerPoint.

I SPY Mystery, Scholastic, B- Early Elementary, 6-up, 2006, www.scholastic.com, The greatest hits of the I SPY software series, I SPY Mystery consists of 56 riddles, many recycled from previous releases. Fun to play alone or with a group, this is an excellent exercise in visual discrimination and is one of the very few software titles that uses poems, double word meanings, puns and other rich, playful uses of language.
The riddles are organized into 13 mysteries, that can be selected from the main menu. Each case requires carefully scrutinizing four or five of the riddles in search of tiny but important clues that are listed on the bottom of the screen in the context of a poem. One of the clues is common for the mystery. For example, in Old Thunder, players search for a lightning strike, embedded in nautical-related scenes. When all the lightning strikes are found, the riddle is solved, and an animation is shown (the ship sinks).
Other cases include the Mystery of the Knight Fall, the Locked Gate, Midnight Mouse and Skeleton's Books. Common themes are science, art and spooky places. New riddle screens include the Sand Castle Exterior, Pirate Pete’s Treasure, Dungeon Gate and Machine Diagram. Because you sign in at the start, some of the scenes include your name; a nice way to personalize the experience and save progress over time.
The only drawback, besides the addictive quality to the puzzles, is that when you get stuck, you can become frustrated. The best solution is to get somebody else to help search, increasing the collaborative play value of this title. Our testers also lost interest after they found all the riddles and wanted a larger conclusive final act that tied all the mysteries together. If you buy just one I SPY software title, make it this one.

Incredible Machine, Sierra On-Line (Vivendi), 8-up, 1995, www.sierra.com, An invention construction kit containing animated parts like pipes, bowling balls, ramps and levers. Using the mouse, a child can freely place the moving parts onto the screen and experiment with chain reactions which might free a cat from a cage, put a ball into a hoop or save the character Mel Schlemming from being eaten by Ernie Alligator. The gravity and air pressure can be adjusted, also influencing the chain of events.
Kids can play 150 logic puzzles which vary in difficulty and can be played against time. They can also create and save their own puzzles in Professor Tim's Workshop and then share them with others. Excellent sound effects, upbeat music and clever, appealing graphics are just a few of the good features of this program. Our testers found the puzzles very challenging as they progressed but enjoyed solving them with the help of friends. In addition to being fun and engaging, the program would fulfill many school science objectives dealing with mechanics. Note: see Hoyle Puzzle Games 2003.

Intel Play Me2Cam with Fun Fair, IntelPlay, 4-14, 1999, www.intelplay.com, Note: please see the review of the Intel Pocket PC Camera for a more recent camera from Intel, with similar capabilities. The following review was written in January of 2000.
Have you ever wanted to climb inside of a software program? If so, then this camera/CD-ROM bundle is for you. Winner of the 2000 Bologna New Media prize, this hand gadget is easy to set up and use thanks to the handy talking instructions. First, you plug a small video camera to the USB port (the little square one) on your computer and position the camera on top of your monitor. Note that you'll need a Windows 98 or better computer for this. After you install the software, you sign in and pose for about five seconds while your picture is taken. Next, your video image magically appears in the game screen and you are ready to play inside one of the five games.
In Snow Surfin, your moving image is placed on top of a snowboard. Standing in front of the camera and computer, you ski by shifting your body side to side to avoid onscreen obstacles such as rocks, trees and penguins. Other crazy games include Pinball, where your hands and head become the flippers, and Bubble Mania, in which you pop bubbles by moving your arms. We found that it is important to play the game in a well lit area in order to avoid a grainy and washed out image.
Is it worth the price? Yes and no. Certainly, this breaks new ground in both innovation and ease of use, and it is important to note that this is one of the first software experiences that gets children out of the chair and moving their large muscles. Plus, it's tons of fun. We'd feel even more confident about the package's value, however, knowing that additional software programs (with more games and activities) were in the works. As it is, longevity may be an issue.

iPod, Apple Computer, D- Middle and High, 3-up, 2001, www.apple.com, The iPod is a portable digital music player that can also be used to store lectures (sometimes called podcasts), photos or movies. The first iPods contained hard disks; later versions were RAM based, with a smaller form factor, less battery power and more reliable performance. iPod content can only be managed by a computer running iTunes, which makes it possible to browse, store and purchase digital content. None of these ideas were invented by Apple (there were numerous MP3 players that used Napster), but they were packaged and marketed extremely well by Apple. Today, a variety of digital music players are available for children, including the Fisher-Price FP3 and the Sandisk Sansa, the latter including a built in microphone. Another recent trend is the inclusion of iPod-like factors into mobile phones, calculators and pens.

JumpStart Kindergarten, Knowledge Adventure, Inc., A- Preschool & Kindergarten, 4-6, 1994, www.knowledgeadventure.com, This title was one of the best early childhood programs ever made, when it was released in 1994. It was the flagship product of the JumpStart line, and, in our opinion, one of the reasons the JumpStart series has been so successful. This original version is still available as Davidson's Learning Series Kindergarten. Here is a copy of the original review that we wrote in 1994.
After signing in on a roster posted on the door, children can click on objects in a classroom scene, 13 of which launch activities. A child who can't decide can click on a talking rabbit who suggests an activity the youngster has not yet played. The activities range in quality, content and difficulty level, and cover letters, sorting, numbers, and memory. In Puzzle, children are shown an object and must make a match using concepts such as opposites, shape, size, and color. Another fun activity is Dolls in which children see a line of seven nesting dolls standing from biggest to smallest. The order of the dolls is subsequently mixed and the children must put them back in sequence. Although challenging, testers also enjoyed Pattern Blaster, an arcade-style game in which children sort falling blocks or patterns into the correct bins according to shape or color. Records of children's work are kept and the program remembers progress from day to day.
We found a couple of design quirks. For instance, when lining up the set of dolls, the rabbit says zero dolls are in the right place when actually some might be in the right place. However, the number of solid activities offered makes this CD-ROM worth its purchase price. Note that more recent versions of the program are available. These cost more but have upgraded activities and design features.

Just Grandma and Me, The Learning Company, 3-8, 1997, www.learningco.com, This revised version of Just Grandma and Me remains one of the better electronic storybooks. The story is the same. A boy and his grandmother spend a day at the beach. They ride the bus, eat hot dogs, go snorkeling and look for seashells. With this new version, a tool bar appears at the bottom of each screen, letting kids hear the story in French, Spanish or German.
Children can also select from two activities. Play in the Sand lets kids do just that, making sand castles using buckets, shells, flags and stones. Testers found the tools hard to manipulate at first, but were able to make castles after a few attempts. The castles can be printed but unfortunately cannot be saved. Another flaw— when kids are done with the activity they have to go back to the opening screen instead of the page they were reading beforehand.
Our testers frequently used the Sticker option (the second activity) available on each page of the story. When this option is activated, some of the objects disappear from the page's illustration and are displayed in a panel to the left. Children then click and drag each object from the panel to the appropriate space in the picture. As the object is highlighted, its name is read aloud so that early readers can see the object, hear its name pronounced and learn the spelling of the word.
Even on fast computers, we found the transitions between screens to be quite slow. We were also disappointed to find that the animations and narration are still not interruptible, decreasing the level of child-control. On the whole, however, the story is as engaging as ever, and the new activities add to the program's value.

Kid Desk, Riverdeep, Inc., B- Early Elementary, 3-10 , 1993, www.riverdeep.net, This dated file management program allows children to access only the software intended for them. Upon turning on the computer, the child is presented with a personalized symbol. This icon leads to a desktop displaying his or her favorite programs. Clicking on an icon starts a program; exiting the program leads back to the desktop. The desktop has features that are fun to explore like a lamp (which darkens or lightens the desk), a clock (to see and hear the time), a nameplate (displaying the child's full name), a telephone/answering machine (to record or listen to messages) and a calendar (to print out or leave reminders). The adult options are easy to use and contain many features, including password protection, a screensaver and the ability to import recorded messages or scanned photos. Kid Desk is recommended for classroom or home settings with a range of users, especially if files need to be protected. Also see Microsoft Plus! for Kids and KidDesk Internet Safe.

Kid Pix, Brøderbund, 3-12, 1998. Note: The following review is for version 1.0. Newer versions are available.
For a rock-solid children's drawing and painting program, you can't go wrong with this classic. Be forewarned, however, although this is an upgrade of the original product, there aren't many new features besides text-to-speech capabilities and some new clip art and music.
When it was first released back in 1991, Kid Pix's design power turned heads. Unfortunately the original drawing program is essentially the same. This version of Kid Pix is a bit like a trusty Model-T when compared to new programs like Flying Colors 2.0 and Disney's Magic Artist Studio which have many more tools and options.
The opening menu offers five activities. Most children go directly to the drawing portion of the program to start creating. The other four areas let kids make moving pictures, watch cartoons, make a puppet dance by pressing keys on the keyboard and learn about animation.
Kid Pix handily loads onto your hard disk, so no CD is required. You'll find a nice range of paint tools, a vast array of tiny stamps and the ability to erase your picture with a stick of dynamite. You can easily create professional-looking slide shows out of an entire classroom of children's work– great for back-to-school nights.
We appreciated the program's ability to switch between Spanish and English. The new text-to-speech feature reads back children's writing and pictures can be imported or exported in BMP (PICT for the Mac), JPG or GIF formats.
Kid Pix earns every bit of its 4.4 star rating, but we'd love to see some new design features and a smoother interface.

Kindercomp, Spinnaker, Inc., 3-8, 1982,,Six games: drawing, matching shapes/patterns, letter recognition, number recognition, and typing names. Good activities in this old classic. (Recommended for older computers only.)

LeapPad, LeapFrog, Pre, 4-up, 1999, www.leapfrog.com, Note: the following review appeared in the 11/2000 issue of CSR.
This updated version of the LeapPad represents the biggest breakthrough in reading instruction since Dick and Jane. What is it? A notebook-sized, battery operated, touch sensitive book reader that allows children to hear words read aloud, in a clear voice. As a child reads, she can touch a word with a stylus (called NearTouch technology) to learn more about illustrations or sound out words. The device comes with one starter book and additional titles ($14.95 each) teach math, science, geography, music, history and more. The best part about the books is that even though they are modified to work with the reader (for instance, they have go buttons on each page and are limited to 70 pages), the stories are authentic. Most other book readers use predigested, bland stories designed around too-simple concepts. Current titles include Robinson Crusoe, The Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden. A headphone jack makes this ideal for classroom use. Note: a home version is available for $49.99. (This product is sold by both LeapFrog and LeapFrog School House.) See also the PowerTouch Learning System from Fisher-Price.
Leapster Multimedia Learning System, LeapFrog, B- Early Elementary, 3-10, 2003, www.leapfrog.com, Note: See Leapster L-Max ($90), the 2005 version of the Leapster. The older edition, available in different colors, is called Leapster Basic. Also see the LeapsterTV Learning System (2006) designed for preschoolers. Here's the 2003 review of Leapster. This portable cartridge-based handheld computing platform can run educational games, electronic books, digital art and interactive videos. We've also has some minor problems with the batteries coming loose; also we are still waiting for cradle for recharging. When it works, it is terrific.
One software cartridge, Learning With Leap (4.3 stars), is included -- the Leapster won't work unless at least one cartridge is plugged in. Test families using Learning With Leap reported that they would buy the platform, citing the desire for an educational option to the Game Boy. They also like the fact that additional titles will be available, giving this toy a potentially long life. Built in controls include PAUSE (freeze the action at any time), HINT, and HOME (brings up the first screen, from any point). The graphics are fuzzy compared to a typical PDA, because they were created with a derivative of Macromedia Flash, which allowed for high compression. Also, the game play pales in comparison to the speedy Game Boy SP, but the 66 MHz microprocessor does a good job delivering educational games responsively. The sound quality is excellent, either through the speakers or through the headphone jack. Runs on 4 AA batteries. Additional cartridges are better designed then the included Learning With Leap and cost $25 each for the educational activities, or $20 for the movies, each reviewed separately. A rechargeable battery option is available for $25.

LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, Eidos Inc., ages 5-up, 2005, www.eidos.com
Star Wars: The Video Game is designed especially for two players, featuring a unique interaction style called drop in, drop out cooperative mode. Together with a friend or a parent, you battle your way through Star Wars scenes. This exploration adventure features LEGO Star Wars characters, including content from the third movie: the Revenge of the Sith. Unlike most games where players compete, this game goes out of the way to create a cooperative problem solving setting. Because each player has different abilities, working together is mandatory to getting through the game to unlock all 48 characters. It’s like you and a friend exploring a dark cave, but your friend has the only flashlight. Discussion is mandatory. So what if your friend has to go? The computer’s AI sniffs that nothing is happening with the other controller, and takes over in autopilot mode, so it is possible to continue play by yourself. At any time, a new player can pick up the controller, and join the game. This game was developed by Giant Software/Traveller’s Tales (both of the UK), and is distributed in the US by Eidos. See also the review of the GBA version. See also LEGO Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy.

Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body, The , Microsoft Corp., 6-10, 1994,,Based on the books and PBS series, this is the first CD adventure of Ms. Frizzle and her class, who take a miniature school bus ride into the human body, learning facts along the way. The adventure begins in the classroom where there are lots of fun animations to click on and a desk with numerous games to play. These games, which vary in quality, present topics such as the four food groups, air pollutants and how neurons work. From the classroom, you can click on a miniature school bus at any time and prepare for your trip into the human body.
First, you select from physical characteristics to create your driver's license that tracks your explorations. Next, you begin to travel through a human body with the ultimate goal of finding your way out. Ms. Frizzle and the students reveal facts about bodily organs and systems while you explore.
Learning to operate the bus was difficult for our testers, and transitions from screen to screen were very slow. The kids, however, enjoyed the program and especially liked the extensive coverage of facts about the human body, and its enjoyable, engaging features.

Magic Slate, Sunburst Technology, 7-up, 1984, www.sunburst.com, Even beginning writers can use this simple, straightforward word processor. Children write their stories with large letters and a picture menu. We highly recommended the program for schools with older Apple II computers & printers. (Also available in Spanish.)

Mental Math Games, Waterford Institute, 6-14, 1992 , (not available), (This program was discontinued but may be available through web or catalog retail channels.) Seven engaging games build speed and accuracy with math facts. Over 300 levels range from simple addition to division. The program keeps ongoing records, which cannot be printed. This older program is highly recommended for its engaging format. Two levels of the game (addition and subtraction) can also be found in My Personal Tutor (Microsoft). This title has roots that date back to the first CAI application.

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corp. (Learning Group), 10-up, 1995,,The dawn of changing references.
The 1999 Deluxe edition of Encarta is an outstanding reference. Navigation is very intuitive, the graphics and videos are excellent, and you just can't beat features like the magazine-style format and the ability to have the articles read aloud. The program comes on three CDs (or on one DVD-ROM), but Disk One is used only for installation, keeping the amount of disk swapping to a minimum. Content includes 40,000 articles (4,500 more than last year), detailed maps, timelines, and much more. Media includes 85 videos, 16,000 photos and illustrations, 2,300 audio clips and 60 animations. Like the other encyclopedias, you can get content updates on the web. This is one multimedia CD-ROM that consistently captures the interest of both children and adults. Kids can hear and see Martin Luther King, Jr. give his famous I Have A Dream speech. They can also take part in 30 virtual tours of exotic places like the Serengeti Plain, meeting the people, hearing the sounds and seeing the local sights. Interactivities let kids explore topics like photography, astronomy and chemistry is a hands-on way as they participate in onscreen experiments. There's also a useful Homework Center with a Research Organizer to help students prepare written and oral reports.
Other especially nice features include the ability to use voice commands to paste, print and do other things within the encyclopedia, and you can also use the text-to-speech function to read the articles out loud. All in all, this is our favorite CD-ROM encyclopedia to date, a must-have for all schools and families.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight, Microsoft Corp., D- Middle and High, 10-up, 2003,,The king of flight sims still rules, but it also takes a king of a hard disk to install all 4 CDs worth of scenery. Like last year's edition, getting off the ground can be complex, and you'll want to have a cheat sheet in front of you -- how else are you going to know that F2 is the throttle? We strongly recommend that you use this program with a Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 joystick, or else be prepared to struggle with complex keyboard controls. Our favorite features are the 21 historic simulations contained in this program, including the Wrights first powered flight and Lindbergh's 33 hour transatlantic trek. We tried it and barely made it to the ocean before we crashed. In many ways, this is a coffee-table CD, more of a historic simulator than any sort of flying game. For example, we quickly learned, after about 5 minutes of droning in the rain, in Lindbergh's Ryan NYP, that flying is ... mostly boring. Pilots and future pilots will appreciate the detail, however, as well as new features like a popup GPS panel (even in the old planes) and the improved better scenery. Note that 1.8 GB of hard drive space is required, along with DirectX 9. A 450 MHz processor or faster is recommended.

Millie's Math House, Riverdeep, , 2-6, 1995,,Well loved throughout the years, this enjoyable program allows children to practice their early math skills by building a mouse house, counting jelly beans and putting shoes on little creatures— all very simple, but engaging, activities. Testers' favorite game lets them build monsters by adding just the right number of body parts. The graphics are still good, even though the program was originally created in 1992. In addition to the original activities, this version offers a concrete presentation of addition and subtraction concepts. A Spanish version is also available.

Mixed-Up Mother Goose Deluxe, Sierra On-Line (Vivendi), 4-8 , 1995, www.sierra.com, Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep, but this time somewhere in Mother Goose Land. Using the mouse to guide a walking child around, who can be customized in appearance, kids match items to characters in 18 classic rhymes. Once an object is located, say a pail, it is picked up with a click and can be delivered to Jack and Jill, waiting by a hill. At each reunion, children are presented with musical renditions of the rhyme, with characters coming to life in song and dance. When all 18 items have been returned to their respective poems, players are rewarded with a multi-character performance. Clearly more of a game than an educational endeavor, the program does encourage problem solving and memory skills and offers kids some practice at basic map skills.
Testers found the program to be unfriendly at first -- even the reviewers had to refer to the manual for help in understanding the choices. More spoken, on-screen help would have been nice. Printed materials are clear and concise, however, and once the hints are read, play is straightforward. Parents should plan to spend some lap time helping kids get started; three and four-year-olds may need even further help. That said, our test children loved this program and spent hours actively engaged. One five year old tester returned all 18 missing pieces by herself (she was so proud!) and her big sister (age 7) enjoyed the program as well. Records of play are kept and games that are interrupted can be saved. One test dad said that he had expected more activities; he questions whether there would be long term use. It helps that for each new game, the objects are hidden in different places.

Myst, Cyan, 14-up, 1993,,This classic, first-person game lets older children or adults practice their deductive thinking and memory skills as they explore a mysterious island in search of clues and puzzles.
Back in 1993, when this was first released, the 3D graphics set a new standard for first-person perspective games, but by current standards the graphics are no longer state of the art. The story line and sound effects are very creative, though, and the format is addictive. Players are stranded on an island and must solve a mystery that happened before they arrived. The puzzles can be very challenging at times, but if you love problem solving and have the time, you'll enjoy the challenge and find the puzzles to be wonderfully creative. For example, in order to open up a locked safe, you must first find the combination, hidden in an observatory. Inside the safe is a match that lights a boiler that provides power to a generator... and so on. Note that there are several sequels to this program, including Rivin (1998) and Myst Masterpiece Edition, with updated help features. See also Myst III (2001).

Netschools Constellation, NETSchools Corporation, 5-up, 2001, www.netschools.net, Started by former IBM executives, NETschools was one of the first wireless curriculum delivery systems to be developed (starting in 1997). For around $40,000 per classroom, or $1 million for a school with 600 students (call for more current prices) NETSchools provides a notebook-like computer called a StudyPro. This is a pricy, slick package that is heavily sold to top school decision makers (and not to the teachers themselves).

Nintendo DS, Nintendo of America, PVA GBA, 3-up, 2004, www.nintendo.com, May 2006: See the Nintendo DS Lite.
The Nintendo DS (Developer System, or Dual Screen) certainly makes a great first impression. The most striking feature is its dual, 60 frames per second, 3D color, 3 inch screens, stereo sound, built in wireless features, voice recognition and ability to run 1500 existing GBA cartridges. While the graphics don't compare to the sharp, single large PSP screen, the DS certainly expands how humans interact with computers; and each other. The most innovative feature is the lower touch screen, that lets you jot notes or sketches during online games, and beam it instantly to another player. Or, it can be programmed to be a control panel -- a keyboard, a set of control keys, or a rear view mirror for a racing game. This device clearly is attempting to take gaming to a new level by hardwiring a social space into the game delivery device. Other features include rechargeable batteries, a microphone, and wireless capabilities (for a network of up to 16 players, or over the Internet). This system has set a news standard for interactive media.

Odd One Out, Sunburst Technology, 3-10, 1983, www.sunburst.com, Children identify pictures that do not belong. Adults can control difficulty level. Best for classroom use.

Oregon Trail, The, MECC (The Learning Company), 10-up, 1980.
This is the original classic (which has since been revised several times) that takes kids on a simulated trip from St. Louis, Missouri to Oregon in the late 1800s. The goal is to successfully travel to your destination by taking care of your wagon and family while avoiding disasters. Kids must make life and death decisions about food, clothing, rate of travel, and more. While this older version (produced in 1992) doesn't have the fun features of the later CDs (realistic video and sounds), the program still teaches a lot about living as a settler.

Orly’s Draw-A-Story, Brøderbund (The Learning Company), 5-10, 1996,,NOTE: this program would not install on Windows XP.
The kids can't get enough of this truly innovative program that provides multiple opportunities for creative expression. With the island of Jamaica as a backdrop, children are first introduced to Orly, a little girl with a penchant for story-telling. As she tells her tales, she invites kids to create characters, vehicles and buildings at a well-stocked pop-up art center. For instance, she'll be telling a story and she'll stop and say Hey! We need a submarine for this story. Can you make one? Kids then create a submarine, either independently or by using templates. They decorate and paint their vehicle and when the story resumes, there is their submarine, cruising across the screen! Fantastic! Even more fun is when Orly asks for a creature or character to be created. She provides its animated eyes and mouth and kids do the rest. When the story resumes, the child's new character can talk and make facial expressions. And when kids want to make their own stories, there's a writing center that allows them to write their own text, choose music and sound effects, and of course, illustrate their work.
Testers and reviewers alike didn't want to stop playing with this one. Children loved seeing their creations and characters come to life and play important roles in the stories. Work can be saved, printed, or seen in its entirety at a junkyard theater, and the manual contains lots of ideas for away-from-the-computer activities. Criticisms are few– sometimes it's a bit hard to understand Orly as she speaks with an accent— but this is also what makes her so endearing. Her stories are engaging and emphasize morals like the importance of friendship. This terrific program is both educational and entertaining, and breaks new ground in children's software. This title was the winner of the International Bologna New Media Prize in 1997.

Playroom, The, Broderbund, 3-6, 1989. Child uses mouse (recommended) or keyboard to explore a room full of objects. Six of the objects trigger activities, including ones on counting, clocks, combining parts, letters, upper/lower-case, and words. Promotes child-control by making it easy for a child to enter or exit a range of activities. Easy to use. Incorporates some speech. Apple version requires frequent disk changes.

Print Shop, The, Brøderbund (The Learning Company), all ages, 1986,,Print Shop comes in many different shapes and sizes. While this edition is definitely not for the super-serious designer, it certainly contains adequate graphics, layouts, and options for the novice. It is essentially the same product as Print Shop Ensemble II (which is no longer available), with 4500 graphics, 500 quick start layouts for banners, cards and stationery, 500 quotes and verses, 73 fonts, and photoCD support, all at a very reasonable price. Our complaints are relatively minor. The onscreen graphics are relatively crude— you have to print your project to know how it will look. It is also difficult to remove something once it is placed.
The program is easy to use, the selection of fonts, layouts and other features is okay, and without a lot of effort, the program quickly lets you make cards, banners, signs, stationery, pamphlets and more. Mac users, see also Print Shop Standard Edition for Mac.

Putt-Putt Enters the Race, Humongous Entertainment, 3-8, 1995, www.humongous.com, It's now been seven years since Putt-Putt, the little purple car, first wandered the streets of Cartown. In this title he's as charming and appealing as ever. In fact, despite some rather tedious games that have little to do with the plot, the CSR editors agreed that this CD is one of the best Putt-Putt programs ever.
Like many classic programs, the main idea is instantly obvious to children— steer Putt-Putt around Cartown just by pointing the mouse in search of a patch for a tire, coins for new tires and a safety helmet. All of these special items are needed in order for Putt-Putt to get into the big race, the Cartown 500.
In one adventure, Putt-Putt meets Mrs. Airbag, whose dog Ralphie has buried four hubcaps in the back yard. In order to dig up the hubcaps, Putt-Putt must find a shovel. In another part of Cartown, Betsy the Bulldozer has a shovel, but will only give it up for a milkshake. Don't worry, there's an ice-cream shop somewhere around the block! Children have to map the whereabouts of each item in their heads, an excellent exercise in logic and memory.
There's no shortage of quality content. We counted nine activities and 14 engaging characters like Redline Rick, a race car who runs the speedway. It took us four hours of hard play to make it to the end– it will take most children days.
On the downside, Putt-Putt can be a little too chatty, but you can press ESC to bypass the conversation and speed the game along. Also, two of the nine games are rather mindless and unrelated to the overall story. These minor issues aside, this CD is just great.

Reader Rabbit, The Learning Company, 3-6, 1985, www.learningco.com, Children help Reader Rabbit deliver words to Wordville by playing four well-designed, multiple-level games that teach 200 simple words like CAT, RUN, and DOG. The games are entertaining, but the program's plot is somewhat shallow. Even though kids are supposed to be making words for Wordville, they never do get to see the town. On the whole, however, this is an excellent program. The activities are solid and easy to use, offering palatable exposure to sight words.

Reader Rabbit Toddler, The Learning Company, 1 1/2-3, 1997, www.learningco.com, This variety pack of eight well-crafted activities provides playful experiences with early logic and language concepts. The program is extremely responsive and easy to use and offers many nice features. For example, parents can type in their toddler's name so that it shows up in the coloring activities. There are finger plays, shape and color games, counting activities and alphabet instruction. Testers, both children and parents alike, loved the colorful graphics, solid activities and gentle theme. Preschool teachers will appreciate that song lyrics and the words to nursery rhymes can be printed out. This is a classic program, a perfect computer introduction for your toddler. www.learningco.com.

Rosie the Counting Rabbit: Explore-a-Story Plus, William K. Bradford Publishing, 5-11, 1992, www.wkbradford.com, Albeit dated, this is a well-designed and enjoyable flannelboard-like storybook in which children place objects, backgrounds, characters and words to create stories. Children's work can be saved or printed.

San Diego Zoo Presents The Animals! 2.0, Mindscape (The Learning Company), 8-up, 1995, www.learningco.com, This updated version of the original title features 40 new video clips, 100 new photos of animals in their natural habitats, and more than 2 hours of CD-quality audio. It also includes footage from the archives of the BBC and some new features for younger children.

SimCity, Electronic Arts, Inc., 10-up, 1993, www.ea.com, Starting with an empty 5 x 5 mile square of land and a sum of money, children can design and manage their own city in this amazingly realistic simulation. First, you divide your land into residential, commercial and industrial areas. Using detailed menus, you can add a coal fired electrical plant and a water pumping station, lay power and water lines and put in a road system. Good planning is essential for success at the early stages, which is measured in terms of a growing population and tax base. When a basic infrastructure is in place, homes, stores and industry begin sprouting as time goes by. When your population reaches 20,000, you are awarded a Mayor's mansion. Periodically, newspapers pop up, which help you monitor your city. You may decide that you want to add a college or a state park, or increase the police force. There is little time to rest, however, as a bridge may collapse, or your city may experience a random flood or a visit from a hostile space creature. Cities can be saved at any point and continued for days at a time, similar to building a complex model. Our testers found the program fun, but difficult to get started with. They did not always understand why a city failed. Nevertheless, this is a highly recommended program for upper elementary children and city officials. See SimCity 4.

Snooper Troops, Tom Snyder Productions, Inc., , 1982,,

Space Adventure, Knowledge Adventure, Inc., 5-up, 1992, www.knowledgeadventure.com, One of the earlier DOS CDs (also available on disk), Space Adventure contains a storybook about space travel, short film clips of historical events, a map of the galaxy and a time line. Mouse control was sluggish on an older 25Mhz computer. A newer version is available for Windows (Space Adventure II).

Stickybear's ABC, Optimum Resource, Inc., 3-up, 1981, www.stickybear.com, Based on a children's book and first released over 20 years ago, this new age version of Stickybear's ABC offers four very limited activities and can be played in exploratory free play mode or in structured mode.
In Pick It, children practice skills freely by pressing the keyboard letter or clicking the onscreen alphabet, which provides a spoken and displayed animation to illustrate that letter H is for Helicopter. Write It introduces each letter with a short animation of how they are written. Find it asked kids to find the words that are associated with a given letter, and Say It builds word recognition and vocabulary skills while students increase their letter comprehension. The activities are very limited by current standards. There is no progress report or record-keeping, but the program does remember where each child leaves off, if they type their name the same way each time they sign in. (A better design would present the list of students each time so that a child can just click on his or her name.)
Teachers will like the lesson plans and worksheets, but the software activities don't have enough zip or play time to warrant the purchase.

Thinkin' Things Collection 1, Riverdeep, Inc., 4-8, 1993, www.riverdeep.net, Note: This collection was renamed Thinkin' Things: Toony the Loon's Lagoon in the Spring of 1999.
Six unique activities let kids experiment with size, shape, color and musical patterns. In Oranga Banga, children experiment with percussion sounds or play a copy-cat-style memory game by repeating rhythms. Similar is Toony Loon with a large xylophone, keys made out of water glasses, rubberbands, or singing chickens. Fripple Shop shows 12 Fripples in a store. Children fill customers' phone or fax orders for particular Fripples, which range in complexity from big spots with stripes to straight hair or stripes but not both. In Feathered Friends, children experiment with four categories of attributes (color, shoes, hats, and body patterns) as they create patterns out of baby birds. In Flying Shapes, children drag a block onto the screen from a set of 28 blocks. They can then adjust its size and orientation or set it into continuous motion (like in outer space), bouncing from one side to the other. With each bounce, a sound is heard. These sounds can be customized, making it possible to create planned sequences of motion and sounds. In Flying Spheres, eight colored balls can be set against 3D backgrounds and set to music. Design features remember progress with each use and provide control over challenge and setup features. The program is full of strengths— outstanding graphics and sounds, easy to use design, high in child control, and most importantly, our testers loved it.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Brøderbund (The Learning Company), 8-14, 1998,,Note: the following review appeared in the July 1998 issue of CSR. This is not the latest version of this program.
The premise of this outstanding geography game remains the same in this updated version. Kids have to track down notorious criminal Carmen Sandiego and thwart her evil plans. As they comb the fifty states in search of the villainess, children take state tours and tap into the Acme database to learn about cities, states and regions. They also talk to over 200 animated characters to gather clues. In the CD's multimedia library, children can watch video clips and access maps, essays and flags. The essays are keyword searchable and highlight each state's geography, economy, history and famous citizens, making this CD a valuable resource for school reports. Guided tours of US landmarks and historic sites help kids better understand our nation's past.
Each new version of Carmen just gets better and better. This version includes a wacky trivia game and a link to the Internet that lets kids update facts about each state.
Our testers liked this Carmen better than the original because of its enhanced graphics and the addition of more cases to solve. Younger testers aged eight and nine required some adult assistance at times to solve some of the puzzles, but enjoyed the game nonetheless.

Wii Sports, Nintendo of America, PVA Console 2old, 3-up, 2006, www.nintendo.com, Looking for a good workout? Wii Sports, the title that comes bundled with all Wii consoles, is a great option. In fact, it is one of the best designed Wii titles on the market. There are five sports on one CD: tennis, golf, bowling, boxing and baseball. In the tennis game, up to four players can swing at, hear and feel the ball using the Wii Remote to hit straight shots and lobs (with top spin or a slice) using their forehand or backhand. With each stroke, a sound comes from the Wii remote, indicating the smack of a ball, or signaling whose turn it is to serve. In the baseball game, players can hit or pitch a baseball using the Wii Remote while the characters on the screen mimic their movements. In the golf game, players can drive the fairways or putt for the cup simply by swinging the Wii Remote as if they were swinging a real golf club. All the games are excellent renditions of the sport they simulate, and there's a nice range of activity level. Testers as young as five were able to play the games, although they'll need help with some of the more technical sports.


By date:
1980
Oregon Trail, The
1981
Stickybear's ABC
1982
Apple Logo
1982
Gertrude's Secrets
1982
Snooper Troops
1982
Kindercomp,
1983
Odd One Out
1984
Magic Slate
1985
Counting Critters
1985
Reader Rabbit
1986
Bank Street Writer
1986
Color Me
1986
Facemaker
1986
Print Shop, The
1989
Playroom, The
1992
A Silly Noisy House
1992
Mental Math Games
1992
Rosie the Counting Rabbit: Explore-a-Story Plus,
1992
Space Adventure
1993
Kid Desk
1993
Myst
1993
SimCity
1993
Thinkin' Things Collection 1
1994
3-D Dinosaur Adventure
1994
America Online Instant Messanger
1994
JumpStart Kindergarten
1994
Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body, The
1995
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia
1995
Millie's Math House
1995
Mixed-Up Mother Goose Deluxe
1995
Putt-Putt Enters the Race
1995
Incredible Machine,
1995
San Diego Zoo Presents The Animals! 2.0,
1996
Orly’s Draw-A-Story
1996
Critical Mass
1997
Just Grandma and Me
1997
Reader Rabbit Toddler
1998
Compton's 3D World Atlas Deluxe
1998
Kid Pix,
1998
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego
1999
HyperStudio
1999
Intel Play Me2Cam with Fun Fair
1999
LeapPad
2000
Book of LuLu, The
2000
Google.com (search engine)
2001
iPod
2001
Netschools Constellation
2003
Disney's Toontown Online
2003
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004
2003
Leapster Multimedia Learning System
2004
Backyard Baseball
2005
FLY Pentop Computer
2005
Food-Force
2005
Google Earth
2005
LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game
2006
AlphaSmart
2006
Big Brain Academy
2006
I SPY Mystery
2006
Nintendo DS
2006
Wii Sports