December 1998

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


Fisher-Price Big Action Garage and Big Action Construction from Knowledge Adventure plus The Magic School Bus Explores the Rainforest from Microsoft

Fisher-Price Big Action Toys Come Alive

If you have kids, ages 4 to 7, who play with Fisher-Price Action toys, you may be interested in knowing that Fisher-Price and Knowledge Adventure offer interactive software based on those real life toys. Fisher Price Big Action Garage and Big Action Construction are two CDs offering games and activities as a part of an adventure in toyland with great graphics, animation, music and sound effects that will keep your kids glued to the computer for hours of fun and learning.

Fisher-Price Big Action Garage from Knowledge Adventure

Explore Auto Land with Tommy Treads and earn car parts to fix K.C. Coupe who broke down in the Big Action Garage. K.C. needs 7 parts for his repair, and soon, otherwise the grumpy Tow Truck will take him away. You'll find lots of activities in the world of Auto Land to win those parts.

At Wheelie's Body Shop you'll need to paint and detail a car to pick up a wheel for K.C. At The Race Track, you'll race on three different tracks for a fun ride to earn a spark plug. Visit Cliff's Quick Lube and help Fred Flatbed work on an engine to earn some oil for K.C. Ride to the Spooky Goorage for a haunting experience to pick up a fan blade and muffler (Becky, my 4 year old, thinks this activity is scary). At Diesel's Palace play the Backstage Maze to win gas for K.C. Visit Auto Park and help Ralph Recycling Truck clean the river and recycle garbage for a battery.

Fisher-Price Big Action Construction from Knowledge Adventure

After you run the software you'll be asked to print a yellow hard hat to protect you while you're working (you wouldn't want to get hit by a virtual rock while working). Then you'll meet Forman Frank and his crew at the Big Action Construction Site and learn about your work ahead. The activities include Drive the Dump Truck, Boulder Blast, Swing the Wrecking Ball, working The Crane, the Building Site and Build on Your Own. And don't forget to stop at Lunch Break for food and some songs. Kids will work the activities and earn collector cards and activity certificates they can print. Sarah, my 7 year old, said, "This is a cool game."

Fisher-Price Big Action Garage and Big Action Construction each have a street price of $20 and will run on any multimedia PC, 486/66 MHz or faster, Windows 95/98 with 16 megabytes of RAM and the Apple Power Macintosh with 8 megabytes of RAM. Both systems require a quad-speed CD-ROM drive. For more information contact Knowledge Adventure at 1-800-545-7677.

The Magic School Bus Explores the Rainforest from Microsoft

Are you ready to travel with that wacky, yet cool, science teacher, Ms. Frizzle (played by Lily Tomlin) and her gang of smart students to the Costa Rican Rainforest for a neat lesson in habitats? Well, then, hop on The Magic School Bus, from Microsoft, for a wild CD ride of fun and facts based on books and animated videos from Scholastic Inc., a well known children's book publisher .

The Magic School Bus Explores Explores the Rainforest is one of several outstanding interactive CDs teaching science with a little science fiction and lots of facts for kids and adults ages 6 and up. My daughters (Sarah is 7 years old and Becky is 4) have grown up on The Magic School Bus series of books and videos, and these CDs add an interactive touch that they love (we really do buy most of their books and videos). Because of Microsoft, they can become part of the adventure and interact with their favorite Scholastic characters. As with all the other Magic School Bus CDs, the graphics, animation, music and sound effects are excellent but that's just part of their charm. You'll find learning games and puzzles, photos, multimedia reports and narrated facts on everything you wanted to know about the rainforest. And it works. The kids really learn while they're playing. Sarah told me all about the plants and animals that occupy the three different areas of the rainforest. I never knew a rainforest had more than one area.

With the help of that amazing Magic School Bus (and Ms. Frizzle) you'll fly like a bird to Costa Rica and visit the rainforest for a detailed view of the plants and animals that inhabit the area. And you'll find three different areas to explore: the Canopy, the Treefall Gap and the Understory. Your goal is to collect items in your Rainforest Tool Box to make a rainforest in the classroom. The games and activities include Escaping Monkey, Frog Song, Bird Food, Rain Game, Mites Travel, Lizard Racer, Animal Chorus, Ant Antics, Ants and Their Trees, Habitat Build, Helicopter Fly, Hide and Species, Night Stratification and Create a Rainforest. Sarah loves to paint, and said she really likes Create a Rainforest, a painting activity using a leaf as a paintbrush.

This is one fun CD for kids (ages 6 to 10) or adults interested in learning everything there is to know about rainforests. It's educational, entertaining and even amusing. My kids love anything Magic School Bus and we owe it all to Scholastic Inc. and author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen. Thanks for making learning fun.

The Magic School Bus Explores the Rainforest sells for $34..95 and works on any multimedia PC, 486SX/33 MHz or faster machine running Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT version 3.51 or later with a double-speed CD-ROM drive and 8 megabytes RAM. For more information contact Microsoft Corporation at 1-800-426-9400.

Howard Berenbon

Software Companies Mentioned

Knowledge Adventure, Inc.
19840 Pioneer Avenue
Torrance, CA 90503
Phone: 1-800-545-7677

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Phone: 1-800-426-9400