UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN MATERIALS FOR CHILDREN
BARBARA IMMROTH, PROFESSOR
SALLY J. BERNIER
NOVEMBER 22, 1999
Blue's 123 Time Activities.
Humongous Entertainment, Inc., 1999. The Humongous Entertainment web site is available at http://www.humongous.com. Blue's Clue's is a trademark of Viacom International, Inc.
This software package may be purchased online at http://www.store.humongous.com or by calling 1-800-499-8386. Current price is $19.99.
Sally J. Bernier, MLIS Candidate, University of Texas at Austin.
Available in CD-ROM only.
Enclosed is a very clearly written and easy to follow instruction manual with directions for installation, AutoPlay troubleshooting, starting the game, signing in, exiting the activities, and uninstalling the software. Also included in the instruction manual are detailed directions for navigating each of seven different games, along directions for six fun parent &child hands-on, non-computer activities. Included in the package is a Humongous Entertainment Product Catalog for spring/summer 1999.
This software is appropriate for children age 3 to 6 years, as defined by the publisher.
Blue's 123 Time Activities provides an entertaining and educational atmosphere in which children can practice development of multi-level mathematics and problem solving skills.
Children are greeted by "Steve" and "Blue", a loveable spotted puppy, at the "Backyard Fair", where they can choose any of the six games available, visit the "Cash Register's Prize Tent", return to the sign-in screen, or exit the game. The activity links are as follows:
· Shovel and Pail's Mother May I? Game: Helping "Blue" reach "10" on the number line before her friend provides practice in counting, simple mathematical operations, and in developing problem solving skills.
· Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper's Snack Stand: Helping "Mr. Salt" and "Mrs. Pepper" set up their booth by sorting snacks provides practice in classifying sets and in developing logic skills
· Tink's Train Ride: Helping "Tink" gather supplies for building a train ride at the fair provides practice in counting, simple mathematical operations, prediction of outcomes, and in developing evaluation skills.
· Baby Bear's Card Game: Joining "Baby Bear" in a game of cards at her booth provides practice in counting, matching shapes and quantities, and developing strategy skills.
· Bell's Souvenir Stand: Helping "Bell" and the "Scale" triplets select souvenirs provides practice in weighing and measuring, and in developing estimation and comparison skills.
· Felt Friend's Pattern Parade: Helping "Felt Friend" decorate floats for the parade provides practice in shape and symmetry discrimination, and in developing sequencing skills.
· Cash Register's Prize Tent: Helping "Blue" redeem "Blue Dollars" to earn a prize provides practice in simple mathematical operations, and in counting and spending money.
· Presentation: Based on the highly popular "Blue's Clues" television show, the animation and sound in this software program are truly remarkable. The brilliantly colored graphics, smoothness of animation, and clarity of the audio track truly match the quality of the Nickelodeon's television program.
· "Blue Dollars": Children earn "Blue Dollars" as they play the activities, which they can spend in the "Cash Register's Prize Tent". Not only does this teach them mathematical skills related to counting money, it encourages them to continue to play the games again and again so that they can earn more money to buy more prizes.
· "Trophy Room": Small prizes are steppingstones to the attainment of larger prizes. Once they obtain one of the larger prizes, it is displayed in a trophy room so that they can view their collection and show it off to others.
In general, the interface of this software is remarkably consistent and smooth. Characters interact with the child by encouraging them when they make a mistake, giving them hints to solve problems, and praising them when they do well. Children will not only learn mathematical skills, but will also begin developing basic computer skills and honing their hand-eye coordination skills.
Program navigation is simplistic enough for a 3-year-old to manage without any initial instruction. Some of the activities themselves may require adult instruction and guidance for the youngest children, as when use of dragging and dropping skills is necessitated. Characters give hints and encouragement so that most children will be able to play the games themselves without any adult interventions. The program may run a little too slowly for the child who has played the games repeatedly and no longer needs to listen to the instructions.
This CD-ROM will capture and hold the attention of children for hours at a time, especially if they are fans of "Blue's Clues", the television show. "Blue's wagging tail and back flips steal the show! It's easy to forget she's not a real puppy! Seven activities, some of which are patterned after familiar childhood games such as "Mother May I?" and adapted to fit "Blue's" endearing style, provide an incredibly enjoyable and educational environment for practicing mathematical skills. Accumulation of prizes and the ability to display them in a trophy room provide great incentives for children who are goal-oriented or for those who seek instant gratification.
I would highly recommend purchase of this software package for elementary school libraries and public libraries. Since it is based on the popular Nickelodeon "Blue's Clues" television program, most children will be highly inclined to check out this fascinating and educational CD-ROM.
More than 100 online reviews are available for perusal including the following:
· Blue's 123 Time Activities Kidsource Online Review. Internet, Kidsource, 1999, available at http://www.kidsource.com/software/blues.123.html. "Blue's 123 Time Activities is a wonderful think-along, play-along program that challenges preschoolers while making them laugh."
· Blue's 123 Time Activities SuperKids(TM) Educational Software Review. Internet, SuperKids(TM), 1999, available at http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/reviews/math/5/blues123/merge.shtml. "Blue's and the gang host another winning program that teaches youngsters pre-math skills in a pleasant, non-threatening way."
· Blue's Clues: Blue's 123 Time Activities Playtesters Review. Internet, Playtesters, 1999, available at http://www.playtesters.com/reviews/blue123.htm. "It's Blue's Clues and your child will love it. It may drive you crazy because you can't get them off your computer . . ."
· Welch, Carol. Blue's 123 Time Activities Kids Domain Review. Internet: Kids Domain, 1999, available at http://www.kidsdomain.com/review/kdr/blues123.html. "True to the spirit of the television program, this game enables children to practice early math skills, solve problems, and build self-confidence in a fun and friendly atmosphere."
Minimum System Requirements:
· Pentium(TM) 90
· Windows 98/95
· 16MB RAM
· 4X CD-ROM.
· System 7.5.3
· 16MB RAM
· 4X CD-ROM.
For review purposes, this software was installed on a Pentium class computer system with 32 MB RAM. Installation was extremely smooth and quick, and no difficulties were encountered while running the program.
A registration card is enclosed, but registration is not necessary to receive technical support, which can be obtained in the following ways:
· Via the online Help File
· Via e-mail on Humongous Entertainment's Web site at http://www.humongous.com
· Via snail mail at Technical Support, Humongous Entertainment, 13110 NE 177th Place, Suite B101, Box 180, Woodinville, WA 98072-9965.
· Via phone by calling 425-485-1212 Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm PST. (Caution: This is not a toll-free number.)
· Via fax at 425-806-0480. (Caution: This is not a toll-free number.)
Date of Review:
November 22, 1999.