February 1999

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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Kid Pilot and Go Fish! from Knowledge Adventure and Madeline Classroom Companion 1st & 2nd Grade Reading from The Learning Company

Kid Pilot and Go Fish! from Knowledge Adventure

Kid Pilot

Okay, kids, are you ready to fly across the US in your own private airplane? Then have some flying fun with Kid Pilot, a Play Zone game from Knowledge Adventure. You'll take off, land and even take pictures on your journey piloting three different easy-to-fly planes over the mountains and valleys of the United States. Kids ages 5 to 10 (and even adults) will have fun with this CD flight simulator for any PC compatible with Windows 95 or Windows 98.

After a quick installation from the CD, you'll be flying with realistic engines sounds and the controls responding to your ups, downs and turns across the cityscape of your choice or from one city to another, offering some accurate details of the terrain below. To take off from you favorite airport, first click "Start" on the ignition key, move the throttle to the right to increase the plane's speed and then when the airspeed indicator is in the green, click and hold the "Up" arrow to lift off and climb. While you're touring the skies, you can shoot pictures of where you've been for your scrapbook for viewing and printing later. You can even fly at different times of the day by selecting midday, dawn or dusk. Landing is as easy as taking off, just be sure to land at the airport, like most planes do. Sarah, my 7-year-old, really enjoys flying around the Detroit area. I really don't see much educational value in flying to and from metropolitan areas in real time at the computer (this can be boring). But, it was not meant to be an educational exercise, just a simulation for kids, and they love it. And it does that very well.

Go Fish!

Now to Go Fish! a game that I didn't find too interesting because honestly, I'm not much of an outdoor person; but I have been fishing in my life. At first, though, I thought it was the card game, Go Fish. But after Sarah installed it, we found it was a game about catching fish. Placing my sports prejudices aside, I let Sarah and Becky (my 4 year old) take over. I have to say, they spent hours catching fish and loved it. I had not idea they'd be interested in fishing in a boat, at various virtual lakes, and learning about the different kinds of fish (like Trout or Bass), but I was wrong. I guess when they get a little older, we'll just have to go fishing (we've got the lakes for it here in Michigan). I'd really prefer a trip to our local seafood spot for all-you-can-eat crab legs and cod fish, without the reel. Maybe if the kids have to put a real worm on a real hook, they'd change their minds. For now, it's Go Fish! for fun, for Sarah and Becky, and other kids ages 4 to 8, on the PC.

Kid Pilot and Go Fish! sell for a street price of $20 each, and run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 90 or faster with 16 megabytes of RAM and a double-speed CD-ROM drive. And as with all Knowledge Adventure products, if you're not completely satisfied with a CD, just return it for a refund or exchange. For more information contact Knowledge Adventure at 1-800-545-7677, or visit their Web site at knowledgeadventure.com.

Madeline Classroom Companion 1st & 2nd Grade Reading from The Learning Company

First and second graders, and even kindergarten kids (Becky is getting ready to tackle kindergarten this fall) will benefit from Madeline Classroom Companion 1st & 2nd Grader Reading. The Learning Company is on to something with their Madeline CDs, based on those charming books written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemlmans, and adapted to cartoon videos seen on the Disney Channel, that my kids just love.

Two CDs are included, with CD 1 covering first grade and CD 2 covering second grade, for kids ages 6 to 9. They begin the same, with the Madeline video theme song (a catchy French tune) and Madeline standing outside her home, in Paris, France, ready for a day indoors to help you learn lots of things about first and second grade reading. Madeline, who talks to you throughout your reading journey, asks you to join her in the attic (the main menu) for some fun.

1st Grade

In the first CD you'll find yourself with Madeline in the attic, offering eight activities for first graders. Play a tic-tac-toe game to complete the word in Three in a Row; complete an interactive crossword with Madeline in Egypt to fix a monument near the Pyramids and Sphinx in Crossword Blocks; match vowel sounds playing cards with Pepito in Fun with Cards; read stories and solve mysteries in Where's Pepito; have some fun with Lord Cucuface in Make a Silly Speech; unlock Pirate Greentooth's treasure chest by matching two parts of a word; help Madeline replace her scrapbook labels with French, Spanish and English words; and finally, in Dear Friend, create some fun Madeline greeting cards (she's on every cover) with pictures and text.

2nd Grade

In the second CD you're in the attic with Madeline again, and with eight activities for second grade readers. You'll find Four in a Row, a match game with Madeline; match paintings with their nameplates in Art Gallery; match pairs of cards with Pepito in Fun with Cards; repair Egyptian monuments by moving blocks back into the wall to spell words in Crossword Blocks; organize country stickers in alphabetical order in ABC Airlines; read stories and find the important clues to solve mysteries in Mini Mysteries; pick words from the keyboard and end up with silly sayings read by the anchorwoman in Wacky News; and finally, keep a personal diary, using pictures and text, in Dear Diary.

These are two fun CDs that cover all aspects of reading for kids in first and second grade, with great graphics, sound effects and memorable music. Madeline is with you every step of the way, with help, comments and congratulations on your work well done. You'll even learn some French, "mon ami," because she speaks to you in both French and English. Each time you complete an activity you'll receive a certificate that can be printed. And all kids will enjoy making Lord Cucuface say stupid things. I even enjoyed it (of course, I watch the Madeline videos with my kids). If your child loves the Madeline books and videos, he or she will definitely benefit with hours and hours of fun learning from these CDs.

Madeline Classroom Companion 1st & 2nd Grade Reading sells for $34.95 and works on any multimedia PC, 486/66 MHz or faster machine with Windows 95 or Windows 98 and the Apple Macintosh, 68040/33 MHz processor or better. Both computers require a double-speed CD-ROM drive and 16 megabytes RAM. And they have a money back guaranty if you're not completely satisfied with any of their products. For more information contact The Learning Company at 1-800-716-8506 or visit their Web site at learningco.com.

Howard Berenbon