New Program Inspires More Creative Thinking

Article excerpt

In a world of ultraviolent video games, where dexterity of the thumb and index finger is infinitely more important than flexing the cerebellum, there must be a resting place for youths and their parents to interact and actually learn something from that overpriced multimedia computer/gaming system. Take a deep breath and enter the ROMper room, where learning is a four-letter word - COOL.

Always popular and infinitely lovable are the Little People who star in two new Fisher-Price Great Adventure CD-ROM titles - Wild Western Town and Discovery Farm, developed by Davidson and Associates.

At Discovery Farm, young visitors feed barnyard animals, sing along with Old MacDonald, help sow and reap the crops and match baby animals with their mothers. As they explore and play, toddlers will learn counting and concept skills - such as "same" and "different" - while listening to cheerful music. They also will hone listening and comprehension skills as they solve puzzles.

Wild Western Town provides fast-action fun for children as they venture into seven play areas. Throughout Western Town, there are hundreds of hidden surprises and animations that children will discover when they hunt for the outlaw, Bandit Bob.

Players will enjoy designing and printing their own "Wanted" poster while working on visual-discrimination skills as they match a jumble of belongings to the appropriate hotel guests. The program also encourages creative thinking as puzzles are solved in the Store, Sheriff's Office, Hotel and Bank.

Both titles retail for $20 each and work with either a PC or Macintosh. Discovery Farm is recommended for ages 18 months to 3 years and Wild Western Town for ages 3 to 7.

For the complete play package, Fisher-Price also offers Wild Western Town and Discovery Farm action play sets at most toy stores.

For more information on Great Adventure CD-ROMs, visit the Davidson Web site (http://www.education.com).

Everyone's favorite primate is back and joins the circus in Houghton Mifflin Interactive's Curious George Learns Phonics. Designed to help children develop early reading skills by working with sounds, this interactive story offers six games and multiple activities that teach rhyming, recognizing and using consonants, identifying and using vowels and other phonics skills to increase reading and speaking ability.

As children correctly finish activities, they are rewarded with animal acrobatic feats, clown jokes and printable certificates.

Parents will appreciate being able to check on young readers' skill development in the program's Report section. For ages 4 to 6, this hybrid CD-ROM can be played on a PC or Macintosh. Available at $44.95 through software retailers, or visit the Houghton Mifflin Interactive Web site (http://www.hminet.com) for purchase information.

Another recognizable reading friend is Arthur, the aardvark. Broderbund presents the tale of Arthur's Birthday and the dilemma caused when his party is set for the same date and time as his friend Muffy's party.

Players help Arthur solve this problem while exploring two activities. The Great Gift Mystery challenges children to match misplaced gift tags to presents while teaching concept and analytical thinking skills. The Musical Pin the Tail on the Donkey game will increase hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. …