Kindergarten Learning to Read on the Promenade
from Thinking Cap
For Ages 4 to 6
See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.
PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
Learning to Read on the Promenade provides a compelling environment for building fundamental reading skills including letter recognition, letter sounds, and simple phonics. Centered around a promenade that resembles a resort town's beach-boardwalk, and featuring a cast of amiable 3D characters, the user is invited into various locations to participate in learning activities and games.
Many of the activities are essentially the same, focusing on matching letters, letter-sounds, or pictures to a given clue. They are presented in a variety of clever ways, however, making each appear new and different to the learner. There are a few notable exceptions. A letter-tracing activity, complete with colorful painting tools, encourages the user to become fully acquainted with the alphabet and its letter sounds. "Boing!" is a learning game with 3-letter words that split apart into different sounds and move around the screen. The user must click the pieces one at a time and drag them into their correct position, reassembling the original word. Also included are a card maker, and two semi-animated tales which display story text as it is narrated. Official-looking Certificates of Achievement are available for the child to access and print as each learning level is completed.
The Parent Zone is a separate application that is included with the program. It provides a minimal amount of information about each student's progress and addresses the topic of reading preparedness, suggesting additional activities to strengthen pre-reading and reading skills.
Learning to Read on the Promenade stresses a balanced approach to learning to read that combines alphabet recognition and phonics with whole language experience.
The program features a system called the "Apt Learning Technology System" which allows the program to adjust to meet the user's specific learning skills and needs. If a child is having difficulty with a concept, the system attempts to recognize the problem and move on to other material, returning to re-address the difficult material at another time. In this way, the child needn't experience undue frustration, and is able to achieve success with the program at various levels. We were unable to verify that this system truly works, although it was apparent that the program progresses from simpler to more complex undertakings, and remediates when responses are consistently incorrect.
Although much of the material covered in this program is repetitious, monotony is avoided thanks to the engaging 3D environments in which activities are pursued. Drills are attractive because of the varied rewards experienced upon their completion. For example, students who choose to visit the Ballpark are given a choice of two activities: "Gophers", and "Batter-Up". The two are virtually identical matching games, but in "Gophers" correct answers rescue friendly Slammer from his confinement in a gopher hole, while in "Batter-up" they earn the user three swings at bat. Our young reviewers appreciated the charm of these rewards. "The batting game is my son's favorite," was one mother's comment. "He'll answer questions all day for another chance at bat!"
Ease of Install / Use
Learning to Read on the Promenade installed without difficulty on our reviewer's PCs and Macs. Program navigation is simple and straightforward, and help is always readily available.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
Children who need to build letter recognition and letter sounds skills will benefit from and enjoy this clever, 3D animated program.
See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other INSERT CATEGORY software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.
Operating System Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 System 7.1 or higher CPU Type and Speed 486/33 MHz or better Color Macintosh Hard Drive Space 8MB 8MB Memory (RAM) 12MB RAM 8MB RAM Graphics 256 Color Super VGA n/a CD-ROM Speed Double-speed Double-speed Audio Windows compatible sound card n/a Other Needs Windows compatible mouse none
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