Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Animation, Sound Make Kids Software Fun, Educational

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Animation, Sound Make Kids Software Fun, Educational

Article excerpt

With parents pushing computers at their kids today as soon as they're old enough to click a mouse button, it's not surprising that some of the best educational software on the market is aimed at younger children.

Because this "edutainment" software, as it's known, leans heavily on animation and sound, it requires a bit of an investment in hardware, usually an 80386 computer with a big hard disk, a sound card and speakers. But here are some recent titles that can make the investment worthwhile.

It's hard to find a preschooler who hasn't enjoyed Richard Scarry's delightfully busy books, and Busytown, from Paramount Interactive Software, is faithful to Scarry's spirit of energy and exploration.

Busytown lets your child interact with dozens of cheerfully animated Scarry characters, including Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm, as they tour 12 different playgrounds.

Each has a different theme and gives youngsters practice at manipulating objects, solving problems, matching shapes, counting, reading simple words, rhyming, running some far-out machinery or just having fun.

At the seesaw, numbered characters pile up on one another's shoulders as your child tries to balance the load. There's also a chance to drive a delivery truck, which means finding the right store and watching out for potholes (get stuck and a friendly cop pulls up with a safety lecture).

Like many of today's good educational programs, which are chock-full of music and graphic files, Busytown is BIG. You'll need an 80386 IBM-compatible computer with 640K of memory, a VGA color monitor, and 12 megabytes of hard-disk space for a full installation (half that for a less complex game).

If Bailey's Book House from Edmark is less frenetic than Busytown, younger children (2 to 6) will appreciate its straightforward and entertaining approach to basic reading skills. The program is available for both IBM-compatible and Apple Macintosh computers.

Bailey the cat, curled up in his chair in the living room, invites children to participate in five activities that illustrate sounds of letters, simple sentences, spatial relationships, rhymes and storytelling. …

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