Let's Start Learning is the entry point to the popular Reader Rabbit educational software series. Like several other early learning titles, it claims to "build preschool skills." We wanted to test that asssertion.
The program has four distinct activities, each focused on a different area of learning, and each offering four progressive difficulty levels. In the ABC diner, the user hunts through kitchen cabinets to help the chef find the right ingredients for his dishes, progressively matching letters, sounds, and words with letters. "This is my favorite," said our 5 year-old tester "because he makes such silly things." [Ed. note: We're not sure what you get when you mix fish, watermelon and eggs -- and we don't really want to find out...] In the Shape Shack, users are given 6 objects, and asked to sort them into two categories, based on some common characteristic, such as color or shape. We thought this was pretty simple, until we watched a kindergartener determine that 6 animals were sortable based on the existence of external ears! These sorting skills can then be built on by a Pattern Parade that challenges kids to listen and construct patterns of parade members. Finally, the Counting Club presents kids the chance to count along with an assortment of forest creatures.
"Let's Start Learning helped my daughter learn to recognize letters, shapes and patterns, well before most of her playmates," according to one of our parent reviewers, who spent five months with the program.
Ease of Install / Use
"We liked how easy it was to set up and get going - we had just purchased the computer, and in no time our 2-1/2 year-old daughter was happily using the program on her own!"
Settable and progressive difficulty levels are one of the program's strongest educational attributes. "I really like the program's ability to track individual children's progress, and return them to the right level when they re-enter the program," said our teacher reviewer. "This is not only helpful in a classroom setting, but also for proper progression at home." Our parent reviewers also noted that the program's positive reinforcement was "a real hit with the kids."
Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids measure for how well and how long a program will hold a child's attention. Let's Start Learning did well on this measure. "Since there's a clear difference between difficulty levels, it's likely that this program will hold our daughter's attention for a long period of time."
Let's Start Learning is best suited for two to four year-olds, who are able to use a mouse. (Ed. note: In our experience this is usually no problem for 3 year-olds. Between two and three, some parental mouse coaching may be required.) Five year-olds may also be interested, if they have had less computer exposure, or are still learning the alphabet and basic counting skills.
Let's Start Learning is an excellent early learning tool for pre-schoolers, with special strength in letter and sound recognition, and shapes and patterns.
|Operating System||Windows 3.1, Win95||System 7.1 or higher|
|CPU Type and Speed||486DX/33 or faster||68030/25 or faster|
|Hard Drive Space||2 MB||1 MB|
|Memory (RAM)||4 MB||4 MB|
|Graphics||SVGA 256 color||13" or greater 256 color|
|Audio||Windows compatible sound card|
|Other Needs||Microphone recommended||Microphone recommended|
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SuperKids Review of Let's Start Learning. SuperKids Educational Software Review provides unbiased reviews of children's software by parents, teachers, and kids.