Looking for some great bets in software for the whole family? On these pages we are happy to present to you this year's Home Learning winners. Each title was chosen after an extensive test-drive by four or more kids of the appropriate age under the supervision of Marianne Cotter, an experienced educational software reviewer and managing editor of Knowledge Management magazine.
Ready for Math With Pooh
Early math activities are nestled into a delightful garden deep in Pooh's 100 Acre Wood in this colorful and appealing title. Here, children will find all the characters they're familiar with from Milne's classic printed series, including Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, and Piglet. Young testers were also motivated by the verbal encouragement and animated rewards liberally sprinkled throughout the games. The program includes seven rich learning environment that reinforce such basic skills as counting, ordinal numbers, patterns and sequencing, sorting and classifying objects, and beginning addition and subtraction.
Macintosh and Windows CD. $35. (Disney Interactive, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521; 800-900-9234)
MathQuest With Aladdin
Familiarity with the movie and recognizable celebrity voices are only a couple of the elements that will engage kids in this wonderful math adventure game. Children explore Agrabah, the Magic Carnival, and the Floating Pyramid to solve more than 18 challenging puzzles that will save the town from the evil genie, Bizarrah. Along the way they work on geometry skill via mosaic puzzles, add and subtract to rebuild temple pillars, and use logic skills to navigate the colorful environment. And "game" is definitely the operative word here. Math skills are integrated so seamlessly into the action that the learning is completely transparent.
Macintosh and Windows CD. $35. (Disney Interactive)
ClueFinders' Third Grade Adventures
A mystery adventure involving an ancient monster hidden somewhere in the heart of the jungle keeps kids interested and moving in this cartoon-style animated program. With a broad range of activities that support a full year of learning in math, language arts, science, geography and problem solving, this product offers variety and a good long play life. Four levels of difficulty ensure that children remain challenged throughout the 24 games and activities. The kid-caper appeal of Clue Finders really struck a chord with young testers.
Macintosh and Windows CD. $29.95 (The Learning Company, One Athenaeum St., Cambridge, MA 02142; 800-685-6322)
Schoolhouse Rock: 3rd & 4th Grade Essentials
Kids latch on to this program's mission quickly and enthusiastically: They must raise enough money to help a rock group get to its concert on time. This goal is accomplished by playing through two discs worth of skill-reinforcing games that span two years' worth of core-curriculum topics, including math, social studies, science and language arts. They can also stop along the way to watch the Schoolhouse Rock videos they'll be familiar with from TV. Over 80 printable games, tricks, experiments and puzzles are included.
Macintosh and windows CD. $34.95. (The Learning Company)
Kid Pix Studio Deluxe
Kid Pix Studio has become a staple in children's creative computing. While the program has always been great for quick and easy results, the deluxe edition has new features for larger projects, such as slide shows with recorded sound that will continue to appeal to kids as they get older. Even as the program expands in depth, the toolbars continue to be simple to decipher and easy to apply. The number of options and sheer fun of working in this program endlessly amused our test kids.
Macintosh and Windows CD. $34.95. (The Learning Company)
Ages 9 and up
Carmen Sandiego Math Detective
One of the strongest titles in our Home Learning entries, this new iteration in the popular series challenges kids to foil Carmen's plot to shrink Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon and other famous landmarks. …