A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this kindergarten software game uses technology in a new way. As children play, the game stealthily (but safely!) connects to the Internet to receive new content, thereby presenting a constantly changing world for kids' educational missions. Families need to run Windows and have a broadband connection to play. Parents will get regular email progress reports and parent tips. This title is also released under the title of JumpStart 3D Virtual World: The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin.
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What's it about?
Upon entering JUMPSTART WORLD KINDERGARTEN's personalized 3-D gaming world -- where waterfalls flow, butterflies flutter, and virtual friends are always available -- kids pick a character to represent them while they play, using the computer's arrow keys to control movement. Then they set off on missions suggested by other characters they meet: For example, they may need to find floating red orbs (a clever way to get players to explore the world), interview other characters to solve a mystery, or buy something from the game's vending machine to help another character. Gems, the currency within the JumpStart world, are earned by playing learning games in either the Math Arcade or the Reading Arcade. There's so much to explore: discovering a new path, bouncing on jump pads that send you flying across the world, taking a ride down a massive slide, swimming in a lake, talking to other characters, painting pictures, acquiring (and playing with!) pets, trying educational games, and much more.
Is it any good?
JumpStart World Kindergarten connects to the Web to send updates about kids' progress and receive new content based on how they're doing -- but parents don't have worry about their children's safety, because their children are never playing online. Every time kids enter this beautiful world there's something new to find: Seasons change, holidays are celebrated, educational games change, and new areas open as more content is added.
The initial boxed product (also available in a downloadable version on the software's Web site) costs $20 and contains the first two (out of 12) content installments. Those "starter" installments include more than 30 educational games and missions for kids; after installing the software, parents will receive regular email progress reports and tips. Additional installments are $8 each, with each new segment building on the skills already learned.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the game's world is different each time they play. How does that happen? Which buddy do you like best? Why? What are your favorite areas to play in? Have you used your earned gems to buy a pet? What is your favorite way to move around the world? What have you learned while playing this game? Do you think about learning things while you're playing, or is it just about having fun?
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