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Curious George Reads, Writes, & Spells is the latest title in the Houghton Mifflin Young Readers' series of programs. Users are treated to a familiar character, in a familiar storybook style. Classic illustrated pages flip by on the computer screen, with an ongoing narration by the storyteller.
This Curious George story finds our simian hero repeatedly getting into trouble, then saving the day while rectifying his wrongs commited in the pursuit of curiousity. Sound familiar?
Each chapter contains an educational drill, in one of several familiar computer game styles -- Pac-man style mazes, Mario-style obstacle avoidance -- as well as several more typical educational computing drills -- fill in the blank from multiple choices, and rearrange the letters. Surprisingly, the majority of these drills are focused on spelling, rather than reading and writing.
That said, our kid testers (and their parents) noted several concerns with the program. Our editorial team's greatest dismay was that "the program misses an opportunity to further develop users' reading skills, by providing a very limited amount of on-screen text." We were surprised that the storybook's narration was not accompanied by onscreen text, except in two or three fill-in-the-blank drills. The rest of the time, the screen had simple, still illustrations, while the story was being told.
Several parents noted an additional concern. "Many of the spelling exercises required quick hand-eye coordination that my daughter doesn't yet have. She got frustrated." In fact, one second-grader told us, "I can't do it! It's too hard!" Yet she knew the answers.
PC: Windows 3.1, Win95, 486/66 or faster cpu, 10 MB hard drive space, 12 MB RAM, SVGA 256-color display, 2X or faster CD-ROM, MPC2-compatible sound card (22KHz, 16 bit), mousereturn to top of page
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