February 2000

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.

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Pokémon Project Studio Red Version from The Learning Company, JumpStart Baby with Baby Ball Peripheral and JumpStart Phonics Learning System from Knowledge Adventure

Pokémon Project Studio Red Version from The Learning Company

Okay, Pokémon fans, The Learning Company (and Nintendo) has it and you've got to get it!  It's the Pokémon Project Studio Red Version, for kids, ages 6 and up who want to print out their favorite Pokémon pets.  You'll find over 250 projects, all with Pokémon in mind.

This is a must-have CD for kids who love those Pokémon cards and toys.  My daughters Sarah and Becky, jumped up and down when I received this software package, which features one of their favorite Pokémon characters, Pikachu, on the cover.  They couldn't wait for me to install it so they could print more Pokémon cards than we already have (we have 7 Pokémon theme decks plus three times more booster packs, and counting).  In fact, Sarah's all time favorite Pokémon is Squirtle, and her first project was printing a sheet of that green and yellow pocket monster (that's what Pokémon means in Japanese, if you didn't already know that).

You'll find tons of projects including banners, birthday kits, bracelets, calendars, door hangers, envelopes, gift wrap, greeting cards, invitations, masks, photo frames, place mats, postcards, posters, sign stickers and more.   It also includes some sample printing supplies to get you started including some shrink sheets you can use to make jewelry and stickers to make stickers.  In the red version you can work with 81 of the 151 known Pokémon (there's a blue version as well).  If you and your kids have been bitten by the Pokémon bug, you've got to catch this CD from Nintendo and The Learning Company.

Pokémon Project Studio Red Version sells for a street price of $9.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, 100 MHz Pentium or faster processor running Windows 95/Windows 98 with 16 megabytes of RAM and a double-speed (2x) CD-ROM drive. 

JumpStart Baby with Baby Ball Peripheral from Knowledge Adventure

Knowledge Adventure is now offering a new concept in educating your baby.  They're offering a peripheral device called the Baby Ball bundled with their JumpStart Baby CD.  This device is a big blue ball that looks like a toy, and will let your child interact with the software without the need for a mouse, and eliminate the banging on the keyboard that most babies will do when you sit with them at the computer.  It plugs into an open serial port of your PC or Macintosh and requires installation from CD.

JumpStart Baby is so well done, that you'll appreciate the care Knowledge Adventure has taken to help your child have fun and learn using the computer.  The software responds in several ways: to the mouse, using a butterfly cursor for navigation, from clicks of the keys and of course, when your child presses (or bangs) on the big blue Baby Ball.  You'll find yourself in Teddy's room while he wakes up with a cute little song.   One click on the mouse or press on the Baby Ball gets  you to a mobile where the fun begins.  Another click  will get you to one of 8 activities.  Since my kids are not babies, I let Becky, who is 5-years-old, help me test this CD.  Our first activity was a hide and seek game called Where's Teddy, which requires finding that bear in his room.  We also tried Connect the Stars for some drawing fun and Let's Make Music to hear some nursery rhyme tunes that babies love.   And when you're done playing the CD, and click on EXIT, the lights go out (in Teddy's room, not your house) and Teddy goes to bed. 

Although this product is recommended for kids as young as 18 months, it does depend on your child.  Some kids may not have the attention span to sit more than a few minutes at the computer while others may master the mouse at a young age and spend lots of time exploring.  If you feel that your child is ready to explore the computer and this CD, you can't go wrong with JumpStart Baby.  And if you're not satisfied, or your child just won't pay attention and ignores the game, or even throws the mouse (or Baby Ball) at the screen (it happens), then you can return the product for an exchange or refund.

JumpStart Baby with Baby Ball sells for a street price of  $29.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 90  or faster, with 16 MB RAM running Windows 98/95 and a Power Macintosh (100 MHz or faster).  Both computers require a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive. 

JumpStart Phonics Learning System from Knowledge Adventure

Mom and dad, here's your chance to give your kids, ages 3 to 8, a real jump start on reading with a new integrated learning system , JumpStart Phonics, from Knowledge Adventure.  This is one complete educational system, with four CDs, 2 video tapes, some workbooks and even a microphone used with a voice recognition software (IBM's Via Voice) to respond and react to your child's voice (sorry Macintosh users, this product doesn't support the Mac for voice recognition).

The educational CDs included are JumpStart Phonics, ages 3-6, JumpStart ABC's, ages 3-6, JumpStart Phonics, ages 4-6 and JumpStart Spelling, ages 5-8 covering reading and phonics from preschool through third grade.  You'll find excellent graphics, music and sound effects featuring Knowledge Adventure's animated gang of cartoon characters (like Eleanor the Elephant and Hopsalot the Rabbit)  to help your kids learn with arcade-style games and fun activities.  The two animated videos, JumpStart Preschool and JumpStart Kindergarten, are included as a supplement to the software covering both reading and math   Kids can take a break from the computer and sit back and watch TV and learn.  Becky, who is 5-years old, just loved the videos, especially JumpStart Preschool.  In fact, we played it three times in one day, but not until we ran some of the CDs.  She also liked the activity books, which offer projects you work out with your child.

JumpStart Phonics Learning System sells for a street price $69.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, 100 MHz or faster, with 16 MB RAM running Windows 98/95 and Power Macintosh with 32 MB RAM.  Both computers require a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive. 

This is a great product with lots of content for a fairly low price (4 CDs, 2 videos, a microphone and work books at $69.99).  One real advantage is that it covers reading and phonics for kids ages 3 to 8, so you don't have to buy any other reading software until your child reaches third or fourth grade.  And, if you're not satisfied, you can return the software to Knowledge Adventure for a refund or exchange.  Sounds like a great deal to me.

Howard Berenbon

Software/Hardware Companies Mentioned

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

The Learning Company
6493 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555
Phone: 1-800-716-8506
URL learningco.com