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 Leapster game is based on the popular Nickelodeon TV show of the same name. This product is chock full of animated movies (much like those seen on TV) that introduce each game and congratulate players as they complete each activity. Expect kids to be watching as much as they are playing; the movies can't be paused. While the company targets children as young as age 4, this software is best for 5- and 6-year-olds because one math game expects children to recognize numbers up to 99.
What's it about?
The characters and style of Nickelodeon's popular Backyardigans TV show come alive in Leapster's THE BACKYARDIGANS game. Kids can play the game as an adventure or explore the seven educational games separately. In adventure mode, kids join the Backyardigans on an adventure to three faraway places: the Frozen North, Tiki Beach, or the Sandy Desert. At each location, kids help the Backyardigans complete two activities.
Kids will practice patterning shapes and sounds, identifying numbers and counting, identifying letters and building words, and visually discriminating objects in an environment. For example, in the Surf's Up activity, players scroll through the screen looking for hidden items. At the Cave Party, kids match drum sequences by using the stylus to tap the onscreen drums. The game also offers the Music Maker activity, in which kids drag sound snippets together to make a song; then they can then select a favorite Backyardigan to dance to their composition.
Is it any good?
Expect kids to be watching as much as they play the game's activities. Video sequences introduce everything -- the adventure, each activity, transitions, and feedback. These movies can't be paused or skipped by clicking on buttons or tapping the screen.
The activities can be played on two levels of difficulty, which extends the game's replayability. But unfortunately, even the "easy" level of one of the math activities starts too hard for the youngest children, expecting them to recognize numbers up to 99. For that reason, this software is best for 5- and 6-year-olds. If your kindergartener is a fan of The Backyardigans TV show, this game may be worth exploring.
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