THIS IS A CONDENSED SAMPLE ISSUE • Call 800-993-9499 to subscribe!
CALL 800-993-9499 to subscribe
News ..................................................3
Family Computing Suggestions
✔ Seven ways to give a student
an academic edge ......................4
✔ Hardware Advice ..................5
A visit to Mars, in the new
I SPY Fantasy
See the feature review on page 12
✔ Software Advice ....................5
to our 14
Software News: Ages 2-6................7
Color Software ......................9
of CSR!vs.Each
3 hole
Ages 5-8..............10
Software on
Ages 8-12
All Star Awards........................16-17
uncoated stock.
Key to the Ratings..........................17
Software News: Ages 12-up ........18
School Supplement ........................20
Parent’s Videogame Advisor
✔ Videogame Gifts ..................26
✔ PVA Gadget Watch..............26
✔ All Star Awards: Games ....27
✔ TV Links ..............................29
Three New Chess Programs
✔ Which is right for you? ......30
Book Reviews ................................30
Directory of Reviews ....................31
Blue’s Clues: Blue Takes You to
School ....................................................7
Children’s Software Revue subscribers see their password to the
Children’s Software Finder™ printed in this space, along with their
mailing address. This is a powerful online database containing over
6000 archived reviews, enabling you to zoom in on just the highest
rated products, from over 6000 reviewed.
If you have a 1st grade child, a Windows computer, and are looking
for highly rated, newer reading software, you’ll find 86 options. The
database includes hundreds of web sites, smart toys and videogames;
especially those with learning value.
Barbie Horse Adventures: Mystery
Imaginext Pirate Raider............................11
I SPY Fantasy ..............................................12
Pajama Sam: Life is Rough When
You Lose Your Stuff ........................13
Math Missions 3-5: The Amazing
Arcade Adventure ..........................14
s we approach our ten-year
anniversery of publishing CSR, it is
fun to look back at how much children’s interactive media has changed. As
many people predicted, the “chicken-egg”
relationship between hardware and software
EDITOR Warren Buckleitner
has led to some wonderful opportunities for
([email protected])
children as technology has improved.
([email protected])
Consider, for example, the new
INTERNS Cristovan Barca, Luke Blickenderfer, Matthew
PowerTouch, which we compare with the
Ivans and Keenan Slobodzian
LeapPad on page 7. Who could have imagined
ADVERTISING Chris Grabowich
([email protected])
this kind of computing power for $50? There’s
also the new TabletPC, which brings pen-based computing to children in
([email protected], 800-993-9499)
a form that can fit in a backpack.
CSR editors are
Despite this backdrop of change, children still develop the same way
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can do. Our instrument (p. 17) still does a pretty good job at measuring
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attributes of quality. We look forward to keeping you
informed for to protect to learn more.
another ten years. Please keep sending your comments
and reviews.
of each review.
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We have no interest
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in selling!!! 08822 (Phone: 908-284-0404)
Warren Buckleitner, Editor
Our Mission? To improve the quality of childhood by
harnessing the power of interactive media.
This Magazine is Your Key to 6215
Online Reviews
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Child testers for this issue—
Thanks to the following families and classrooms from New Jersey and Michigan who
reviewed products for this issue.
Lauren Aldrich, 4; Dana Andrews, 10; Jessica Andrews, 12; Alison Arbach, 4; The
Blickenderfers; Christian Bollin, 10; Jenna Buckleitner, 8; Sarah Buckleitner, 11; M Burton,
30; Ian Bydalek, 3; Addie Bydalek, 6; Jamie Colasurdo, 11; Matt Collins, 8; Caitlyn Collins,
12; Steven Crew, 6; Shawn Dagg, 14; Erin Dagg, 13; Danielle Demers, 10; Nicholas Demers,
6; Justin Dempsey, age 10; Schuyler Dugle, 8; Cassidy Durkee, 3; Scott Evans, 11; Lauren
Fiorilla, 11; Sloane Forbush, 8; Zachary Forbush, 6; Michael Francavilla, 9; Nicole
Francavilla, 7; Jordan Fusco, 7; Morgan Fusco, 5; Nicholas Gerhartz, 5; Aaron Gervasio, 2;
Frank Gradl, 9; Tyler Gradl, 4; Molly Gradl, 2; Paige Grettenberger, 9; Anna Grettenberger,
7; Bryan Herlihy, 13; Laura Henry, 8; Erin Hilgen, 7; Curtis Hill, 5; Jarrett Hill 10; Steve
Hollander, 12; James Hollander, 12; Rachel Hughes, 6; Jimmy Klein (8); Michele Kurowicki,
15; Tess Lindsey, 5; Austin Lyons, 10; Connor Lyons, 8; Owen Lyons, 4; Brigitte Mania, 7;
Jillian Orr, 14; Kelsey Orr, 12; T.J. Orr, 7; James Mania, 1; Brigitte Mania, 5; Paul Mania, 7;
David Marks, 8; Taylor Meacham, age 9; Adam Noboa, 16; Alex Noboa, 11; Billy O’Neil 14;
Tyler Parker, 10; Tori Pinello, 8; Diana Pinello, 5; Elisabeth Rosetti, 16; Lauren Ross, 10; A.J.
Ross, 8; Mehyar Sadri, 13; Alex Schlicklin, 13; Taylor Schlicklin, 8; Andy Semanchik, 15;
Kasey Semanchik, 13; Kristen Semanchik, 10; Mike Semanchik, 7; David Sheneman, 12;
Matthew Sheneman, 10; Sarah Sokoloski, 5; Zak Sokoloski, 9; Andrew Sheneman, 6; Kira
Sirois, 9; Greg Stambach, 9; Lauren Stover, 7; Trudy Suleiman, 39, Andrea Stess, 7; David
Stess, 10; Daniel Swartz, 11, Caitlin Tarantiles, 10; Cobi Tarantiles, 7; Jamie Tarantiles, 3;
Miles Ward, 5; Abby Westlein, 3; Alex Westlein, 5; Tim Wolock, 11; Alison Wolock, 16; Jeff
Yankowski, 14; Kelly Yankowski, 11.
Here’s a list of the children that help review
products for each issue
of CSR. This helps us
keep our ratings on
Many thanks also to Leah Stroebl at Desmares Elementary School, Doreen Raksvagg,
Daycroft Montessori.
Ann Orr, Ed.D., Sr. Editor, 4237 Lake Forest Dr East, Ann
Arbor, MI 48108 (Phone: 734-995-2505)
EDITORIAL GUIDELINES. In order to protect the
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Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
This page brings you up
to date on the latest research,
Centers in 2003. They report that chilResults of Nationwide
news, gadgets and so on.
aged 6 months to six years spend
Undercover Survey Released New Mac Translations Announced
of 2 hours a day using
won’t find this anywhere
The Federal Trade Commission released
Aspyr is a company that translates popscreen media, vs. 39 minutes reading or
its 2003 nationwide undercover survey
ular PC titles to the else!
being read to. In a typical day, about
Warren Buckleitner and Ann Orr
of stores and theaters, a.k.a., the “mystery shopper” study. Commission staff,
through a contractor, recruited 13 to 16year olds unaccompanied by a parent to
attempt to purchase movie tickets,
movies on DVD, music recordings, and
electronic games at 899 theaters and
stores in 39 states. 69 percent of the
teenage shoppers were able to buy Mrated games; 83 percent were able to
buy explicit-labeled recordings; and 36
percent were successful in purchasing
tickets for admission to an R-rated film
at movie theaters.
Minolta Releases a Tiny
New Digital Camera
Digital cameras like the new Minolta
DiMage Xt can be a teacher’s secret
weapon for capturing classroom anecdotal records. This deck-of-cards-sized
camera lets you snap clear 3.2 megapixel pictures on the fly.
The best feature besides the size is
that it takes just a little more than a second to warm up—so you can quickly
get that picture of a child's block structure, drawing or first soccer goal.
Besides taking pictures, the camera
also records sounds, so you can provide
voice annotations for each picture.
The menus are complex, so plan on
taking a weekend (or two) to figure out
all the features. Once you do, this camera will become a trusted home and
classroom companion. A charging cradle makes it easy to keep the batteries
fresh and the camera plugs directly
into any Mac OSX
or Windows XP
computer. $380
(includes RAM,
battery and
Disney's Toontown does not require a
CD, and the game can be downloadable from
In our last issue, we hopefully, but
incorrectly, reported that the ESRB
was going to be putting descriptors
on the front of game boxes. Instead,
descriptors will stay on the back.
Here’s a selection of latest titles to be
released. Visit for
updated information.
• Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4
• Star Trek Elite Force II
• Indiana Jones And The Emperor’s
• James Bond 007 Nightfire
• The Sims Superstar Expansion Pack
• Zoo Tycoon
Game Boy Advance SP Gets
Two New Colors for the
Nintendo just announced two new
casing colors for the $100 Game Boy
Advance SP—red (shown on page 24 of
this issue) and black. OK, this may not
be big news to you, but it is fun to see
what public relations professionals do
with such minor events. To Nintendo
PR red is “Flame” and black is “Onyx”.
Frankly, we would have been more
impressed by a headphone jack!
You may be interested to learn that
“color psychologists believe that certain
hues generate specific, and often very
strong responses in people. For example, black can foster strength and
encourage independence, while red
empowers and can stimulate the mind.”
In addition to the two new colors, Game
Boy Advance SP will still be available in
Platinum (silver) and our favorite —
Cobalt (blue).
By the 2003 holiday shopping season, 500 GBA titles will be available,
including Super Mario Bros. 3, Super
Mario Advance 4 (Oct. 21), Top Gear
Rally (Oct. 27), Fire Emblem (Nov. 3),
Mario and Luigi (Nov. 17) and Sword
of Mana (Dec. 1). Visit for more information.
Survey Shows How Young
Children Use Electronic
In October, 2003, The Kaiser Family
Foundation announced the results of a
study, "Zero to Six: Electronic Media in
the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and
Preschoolers," conducted in conjunction
with the Children's Digital Media
one in four (27%) 4-6 year-olds uses a
computer, and those who do spend an
average of just over an hour at the keyboard (1:04). More than a third (39%) of
4-6 year-olds use a computer several
times a week or more; 37% in this age
group can turn the computer on by
themselves, and 40% can load a CDROM. A significant number of parents
(72%) say computers “mostly help” children’s learning.
Children Find Disturbing
Content in Popular E Rated
“Want to lock tongues?” “That black
leather of yours makes me wild”
“Are you old enough for an R-rated
kiss?” These are lines of printed dialog
from The Sims Bustin' Out which is
being published this month for Game
Boy Advance with an E rating. This is
problematic for the videogame industry,
because an E rating generally means a
green light for most parents and mainstream publications. The content was
discovered in a pre-publication copy of
the game by a 14 year old CSR tester.
We contacted both the ESRB and Maxis
to verify that this content will still
appear in the final game. Maxis
informed us that it will release the game
on schedule, but plans to remove potentially offensive content from the game
as soon as the current edition sells out.
The ESRB said that the rating for the
game is Everyone, with descriptors of
comic mischief and mild violence. CSR
disagrees with this ESRB rating. CSR Sr.
Editor Ann Orr reviewed the game and
said “We feel that this type of content is
not OK for children, and it is sad when
a few lines of dialog spoils what would
otherwise be an outstanding experience.”
DID YOU KNOW— There have been a
total of 61 Jump Start programs released in
the past years, compared to 57 Reader
Rabbit programs. Search on “Jump Start”
in the Children’s Software Finder to see the
entire list
Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
How to give a child an
academic edge with technology
n the good old days, back-to-school supplies
meant #2 pencils and a spiral bound notebook. Today, it means having a backup
inkjet cartridge, and freeing up some space on
your hard drive. That’s because more parents
are discovering that computers and well-selected software give their children an extra advantage with schoolwork. We asked seasoned families for suggestions on how technology can
make the most difference, and boiled it all
down to seven top suggestions. Here’s what
they said.
1) Get fast, “always on” Internet access. Homework or
school projects require answers … and fast. "Switching
from dialup to our cable modem made a huge difference
in how our kids use the web for their schoolwork" said
Dave Wolock, a hydrologist from Leawood Kansas, and
the father of Sam (13), Charley (10), Elizabeth (7), and
Anna (3). "When Sam needed a better explanation of
thermodynamics, we found what we needed in seconds
on a university professor's online study guide." The
Wolocks are typical of families who have recently
switched to faster web access, according to a survey of
2300 web-using kids conducted by researcher Peter
Grunwald ( "Cable or DSL access
played a major role in unlocking the educational potential
of the Internet."
Jenna (8) and Sarah (11) Buckleitner play a game of chess using a pen rather than a mouse, against an
an opponent over the Internet, using a $2100 Acer Travelmate C110 wireless Tablet PC. The changing
form of computers is bringing exciting new possibilities.
“One can predict that in a few more years, millions of children will have access to what Philip of
Macedon’s son Alexander the Great enjoyed as a
royal prerogative: the personal services of a tutor
as well-informed and responsive as Aristotle.”
Educator and early CAI advocate Patrick Suppes
in 1966. Perhaps Google is Suppes’ Aristotle?
2) Teach your kids how to search. The ability to a use a search engine like Google (the Wolocks'
favorite) has become as important to school success as learning to sharpen a pencil. After all, what
could be more useful than having the world's largest reference library at your fingertips? But effective use of such a powerful tool means being able to choose keywords carefully, and knowing when
to use quotation marks to find a specific phrase.
This is the first
page of a typical article.
3) Build your child’s “internal firewall” MostWe
dads and grandparents
lot for
involvement in their child's web-based activities, over more clandestine methods like blocking or filpractical
onof the
tering Internet access. "We found that parents and families
have a much
balanced view
benefits and threats presented by technology than is commonly assumed,” says Grunwald. Today's
what we learn from our
children must develop their own internal firewall as they learn to navigate through distracting banners, spam from strangers, and sometimes worse.
test families.
4) Check your software library. First, make sure you have the essentials-- an updated browser, a
word processor with a spell checker that can read school files at home, and a presentation program
like Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote. Also stock your library with an encyclopedia such as
Microsoft Encarta or World Book that comes with thousands of pre-selected links on common
school subjects. Educational software is good for providing playful practice with tough concepts,
especially math facts and spelling, or expanding your child's knowledge in areas such as music or
5) Let them walk before they run. There is a developmental sequence to
computing activities. In preschool and early elementary years, give kids
plenty of opportunities with educational software and smart toys. After they
can read, they can practice typing-- but don't jump the gun. By fourth or
fifth grade, children can start searching the Internet and will soon be begging for their own email address.
6) Teach by example. If you want technology to enrich your child's education, let them see how it enriches yours.
7) Establish tech-free times. As technology increasingly invades our
homes, it's essential to carve out routines that let you “instant message”
face-to-face. That means no computers, cell phones, Game Boys or PDAs- just old-fashioned conversation. ✪
by Ann Orr and
Warren Buckleitner
September/October 2003 • Children's Software & New Media Revue
Q. Our old Windows 95 computer has finally had it. We
need a new computer and I
saw a Dell Dimension 2400
Pentium advertised for $888.
This comes with a 15 inch flat
panel display. Is this a good
Sure, this particular Dell will
work just fine, but remember
for a bit less money (around
$650) you can find a variety of
good brand-name Windows XP
systems from Gateway, HP,
eMachines, IBM and others.
Just make sure they meet these
minimum requirements.
✔ Speed. Anything above 2
GHz is just fine. There’s no
need to pay extra for more.
✔ Memory. Don’t settle for
less than 256 MB of internal
RAM. Both Windows XP
and Mac OSX demand at
least this much memory.
✔ Monitor. Go for the 15 inch
LCD flat screen; avoid oldfashioned CRT monitors.
You won’t be sorry.
✔ Internet Access. Make sure
it has a built-in Ethernet
card. If you’re buying a
notebook, make sure you get
a wireless card preinstalled.
Get either a DSL or cable
modem, and a wireless
modem, and supervise all
web activity carefully.
✔ Hard Drive. Most computers come with a 40 GB hard
drive. This is fine, unless
you plan on editing videos,
in which case we recommend paying an extra $100
Software News for
Preschool & Kindergarten (Ages 3-6)
ere’s a look at the latest new technology learning products for
babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
Babies and Toddlers
Early Learning
Disney Learning Toddler, 4.0 or
, Disney Interactive, 18 mos.-3,
Win/Mac— In this 3 CD bundle of previously released Disney programs,
Mickey Mouse Toddler is the best of the
bunch. Kids join Mickey, Minnie and
the gang to learn about numbers, letters, shapes and more. The activities are
cute, but few in number. You also get
Winnie the Pooh Toddler and Rolie
Polie Olie, two additional toddler programs. These have nice graphics and
characters but poorly designed activities. We'd grab this bundle only if the
price was right.
This is the start
of Software News, the
heart of CSR. Over 100
liked a more responsive, exploratory
learning content, and in the Q/A mode,
products are rated,
type of experience.
asks children to find specific items like
"the fuzzy lamb." In addition to books,
described, and sorted
there are also several two-sided activity
& Kindergarten
by age and
cards that are very simple to use -- one
turns the entire toy into a piano. Our
tester families gave mixed reviews, and
it is important to keep in mind that the
quality of the experience really can vary
depending on the individual books, and
what page it is on. We found that this
particular book is a little heavy on narration at the expense of child exploration. Also, the emphasis on academics
(colors, shapes, counting) of this book is
likely to be questioned by some early
childhood educators. We would've
Early Childhood Games
Tonka Town, 4.5 or
, Atari,
ages 4-7, Windows XP— Boys and girls
will enjoy playing pretend trucks with
this engaging Tonka-themed program.
Driving around in vehicles like Chuck
the Dump Truck and Hook 'n Ladder,
they'll take care of important jobs such
as collecting runaway tires, catching
falling objects at a construction site,
putting out fires, and more. The graphics and animations are fun; when you
I Spy Fantasy
Smart Toys
LittleTouch LeapPad, 3.9 or
LeapFrog, 6 months - 3 years— A
LeapPad for Babies? This touch-sensitive book-reading platform is designed
to be used by a parent and baby or toddler together -- an adult will need to
activate the "go" button on each page,
for example. The child then can freely
explore the
picture to hear
sounds, or a
cluster of
words to hear
it read. No stylus needed -the pages are
pressure sensitive, even
though a rather good push is required
to activate the sounds, and children
often have to try more than once to
make a picture work.
Each 12 page book/cartridge costs
about $13. The books are designed for
abuse, with Mylar no-rip pages. We
tested "One Bear in the Bedroom," with
three levels of play, activated by pressing a "change setting" icon found on
every page. In Setting 1 (birth to 6
months) the story is illustrated with
different beats, tones and music. Setting
2 (6-12 months) is called word play,
introducing speech sounds and the
notion of word-object associations.
Setting 3 (9-12 months) offers even more
Each page of
Software News has
Feature Reviews like this
one, with rating details,
screen shots, reviewer
comments and so on.
September/October 2003 • Children's Software & New Media Revue
Pixter Revs Up with Color, and PowerTouch takes on the LeapPad
Here’s a comparison of the new PowerTouch (right) with the existing
wo years after Fisher-Price’s first Pixter, this new
LeapPad (the QuantumPad is shown).
$80 version features a color back-lit touch screen,
with significantly better resolution than the previous Pixters. Onboard software includes four activities,
selectable from the main menu. Free Draw has a pencil,
stamps, shapes and an eraser. Scene Starters is like a coloring book, where you scroll through a variety of backgrounds, and then color in the scene. Color by Number
lets you fill in pictures by matching numbers using a
paint bucket. Connect the Magic
Dots lets you complete dot-to-dot
puzzles by following a series of
flashing dots. Additional content
Rating 4.8
is available on four color cartridges (sold separately for $15
Price $50 (books/cartridges
$50 (books/cartridges are $15)
each) -- Arcade, Dinosaurs,
are $15)
Rescue Heroes and Barbie. Two
Ease of Use Definitely a short
Here’s where the PowerTouch
more cartridges, Sponge Bob and
learning curve. “When excels over the LeapPad.
Smart-Start Studio, will be availyou turn to a new
There’s an easy-to-find ON/OFF
able by mid-October. Like the
page, always press the button, a slider volume control,
older Pixter, this one requires 4
green GO circle.”
and it is possible to open a book
AA batteries that give it approxiVolume is harder to
to any page and touch any picmately 4 hours of operating time.
ture or word to begin. It even
New (welcome) features include a
works without a book.
volume dial and a headphone jack. Note that
thiskeep our eye on
Responsivity Excellent, extremely
Good. Very crisp, but some
new Pixter will be able to run older Pixter cartridges,
and accurate
touches get lost.
the new cartridges will not run on older Pixters. Here’s a
Ages 3 - 12
unbiased, side-by
closer look at new Pixter software.
Arcade, 4.2 or
, —Our favorite new Pixter carGlitches None, in any of the
It must be entirely flat or the
tridge offers eight just-for-fun activities (more than
current versions. We
wrong page might be registered.
have found the
Also, the two on/off switches
most of the other cartridges). Our testers enjoyed playLeapPad Plus Writing
(one on the front, one on the
ing the games, saying this set was more fun than usual.
unresponback) could confuse children, if
There are take-offs on Space Invaders, Pac-Man and
sive at times, but we
the switch in the back is off.
Frogger, which are all very engaging, as well as a pinhave not tested the
ball game and a Battleship-like game that was hard to
final version.
figure out without reading the directions. There's plenty to do— all the games are based on classic, tried and
Sound Excellent. Easy to hear Excellent. Easy to hear differtrue fare-- so they work.
Quality differences between
ences between phonemes.
Comparable to the LeapPad.
Learning Fun 2, 4.1 or
—This is also one of the
better cartridges, offering addition and subtraction
Batteries 4AA
practice, a word/picture matching game, a time-telling
Interaction Every page starts with Each page starts with an introactivity, and a series of "which one is different?"
style a short introduction,
duction, but the narrator continscreens. The activities are simple, engaging and educathen gives control to
ues to push, with prompts like
the child. The male
“touch a picture to play.” We didSports, 4.0 or
—With its four types of activities,
narrator is direct.
n’t care for the artificial sounding
this sports-themed cartridge is fairly entertaining. Kids
Sounds more like a
female narration in the first
can create sports scenes with stamps and they can
typical midwestern
books (not unlike Barbie) who
dress (mix and match) sports figures. These activities
sounds more like a spokesmodel
than a teacher.
aren't as strong as the Score! game where you can take
shots on goal, shoot hoops, or hit a baseball out of the
How good for Better resolution gives Well suited to touch and explore
park. Also good is Trick Out! where children can pracPhonemic it the ability to sound
types of experiences. Excellent
tice cool moves and tricks on bike, blades or board.
Awareness? out parts of individual
for general word/sound associaBarbie Fashion Show, 3.7 or
— Kids can play
words, as well as
tion. While words are sounded
four Barbie-themed activities with this mediocre carwhole words and sen- out, syllables not associated with
tridge. Fashion Designer lets children mix and match
the child’s direct touch.
pieces of clothing to make outfits on a dressmaker's
Bottom line You can’t go wrong
The PowerTouch is a welcome
dummy. Glam Jam! allows kids to give Barbie and
with a LeapPad, given newcomer to this category of
friends a hair and makeup makeover. In It's Showtime!
its solid design and
smart toys. The touch capacity is
children can make a runway fashion show scene and
existing library of gen- good for exploration, especially
Make it Match is a "hide and seek" matching game. The
erally well-designed
for younger children.
activities are weak at best and some are hard to figure
out how to do with out reading the instruction booklet.
This, of course, is hard to do at age 4. ✪
Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
School Supplement
ere’s a listing of the latest interactive media products for education settings.
Note that many of these reviews have been abbreviated. You can read the
full-length reviews, and jump directly to publisher’s web sites, at Search on issue November 03.
Meet Professor Finkle -- the singing,
joking teacher who introduces children
Egyptian Hieroglyphs Made Easy, 4.2
to division via instructional videos,
, Smiles Productions, $59.95,
puzzles and games, drills, and printable
13-up, Windows
worksheets. Content includes 13 short
95/98/NT4/2000/ME/XP— Published
videos delivered in Quicktime, and six
and designed in conjunction with
This page
(division reviews
as the inverse of
University of Washington professors,
this tutorial on hieroglyphics would software and hardware
make an excellent addition to a unit on
of intro
to teachers,
to long division).
Also included
ancient Egypt. By way of a fairly
are drills and worksheets for 144 divistraightforward interface, the software
home schoolers and
sion facts. Records are kept (children
gives a slide-show-style introduction to
sign in) and results coordinacan be printed. This
the subject, and then presents lessons
flashy, but Professor
on learning to read and speak the hiero- program isn'ttors.
Finkle keeps the mood light for an othglyphics. The CD's title is a bit misleaderwise dreary math subject. It would
ing, as truly learning to read the symwork well in a fourth grade classroom
bols and understand the language is no
for some math related entertainment
“easy” task. Still, the software does a
and practice.
good job of breaking down the language into manageable parts.
Project Finland: A Student Guide for
Action, The Government of Finland, 8up— An effort of the Finish embassy,
this site contains facts and quizzes
about Life in Finland. As of 8/27/2003,
the sign-in process is clunky (it doesn't
tell you what it will do with your information).
Professor Finkle's Beginning Division,
4.1 or
, Multimedia Educators,
$19.95, 9-11, Windows, Macintosh— Did
you ever have a really corny teacher?
You know, the kind that would break
out in a cheesy John Wayne imitation
right in the middle of a math lecture; or
perhaps a proper British school marm.
Accent on Achievement Series, 4.0 or
, Alfred Publishing, $7.95, 1014, Windows, Macintosh— Designed for
band students in grades 5 through 8,
these are workbook and CD-ROM combinations that introduce and reinforce
basic concepts and skills. Each band
instrument has its own book/CD. After
briefly discussing proper playing position and note formation, the book presents a series of musical exercises. The
CD offers a link to an Internet site with
a fingering chart, plus more than 50
midi files of various short instructional
pieces like Jingle Bells, London Bridge,
Skip to My Lou and Surprise
Symphony. The two products could be
used as home practice tools, but would
be more effective if used in a classroom
setting with teacher guidance.
He’s Back! Professor Finkle keeps
kids laughing about math.
and significance of each instrument and
rhythm is discussed, and notation is
provided in both traditional and time
box format.
Palm OS Applications
ChemTable, $free, 12-up— Science
teachers will want to know about this
handy freeware application from Robert
Eng that brings the Periodic Table to
Palm OS handhelds. The program is
straightforward to use. Tapping on any
of the element boxes on the onscreen
Periodic Table will bring up a form
showing a list of that element's physical
and chemical properties. In the Options
menu, you can choose to display either
element symbols or atomic numbers in
the table. You can also select a subset of
the elements for display (Transition
Metals, Halogens, Noble Gases, etc).
Only half of the Periodic Table can be
viewed at a time, so to switch the two
sections, you must tap on the left or
right arrow button. This is a minor
inconvenience, considering the price
(it's free) and the application's overall
ease of use. More information can be
found at or .
MathQuiz, Extended Family
Interactive, $9.95, 6-up— We liked the
clean interface and customizability of
Drum Circle: A Guide to World
Percussion, 4.0 or
, Alfred
Publishing, $19.95, 12-up, Windows—
Twenty-eight different percussion
instruments (conga drums, talking
drum, tambourine, triangle, tan-tan,
agogo, etc.) are profiled in this 76 page
workbook. Content includes performance techniques, instrument descriptions and twenty play-along exercises.
The accompanying CD supplies video
clips of these exercises, plus footage of
dozens of rhythms. The cultural history
Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
Middle and High School (Ages 12-up)
All Star Awards
September 15 to November 15, 2003
These educational products are the winners of Children’s Software Revue’s All Star
Award, based on the recommendations of CSR editors and testers. (➟ = new addition)
Early Elementary
Upper Elementary
Reader Rabbit Toddler Deluxe
Flying Colors v. 2.11
HyperStudio 4
The Learning Company, 800-716-8506, $29.95, ages 18 mos.-3 yrs.,
Win; Mac
Magic Mouse Productions, 415-669-7010, $29.00 (including
delivery), ages 4-up, Win, Mac, 3/02
Knowledge Adventure, 800-542-4240, $199.95, 8-up, Win; Mac,
Kids! Spanish
Explorer Globe III/Odyssey Globe IV
Syracuse Language Systems (Havas), 800-797-5264, $30.00, ages
6-10, Win
LeapFrog, 800-701-5327, $99/$129.00, 8-up, Smart Toy, 11/02
➟Barbie Horse Adventures: Mystery Ride
Riverdeep - The Learning Company, 800-825-4420, $24.99, ages
8-12, Win, Mac, 9/02
Vivendi Universal Publishing (Knowledge Adventure),, $29.99, 5-up, 9/03
Pet Me Platypus
Neurosmith, 800-220-3669, $19.99, ages birth-2, Smart Toy, 7/03
Together Tunes
Neurosmith, 800-220-3669, $59.99, ages 3-5, Smart Toy, 7/03
Pretend and Learn Shopping Cart
LeapFrog, 800-701-5327, $45.95, ages 2-up, Smart Toy, 9/02
Krazy Art Room
GuruForce, Inc., 206-329-7572, $39.95, 4-up, Windows, 5/03
Dogz 5, Catz 5, Babyz, Petz
Ubi Soft Entertainment,, $29.99, 4-up, Windows,
➟Imaginext Pirate Raider
Vivendi Universal Games,, $19.99, 5-10, 9/03
➟Pajama Sam: Life is Rough When You
Lose Your Stuff
Stuart Little: His Adventures in Numberland
Atari,, $24.95, 5-9, 9/03, Inc., 800-474-4423, $29.95, ages 4-7, Win, 7/01
➟Scooby-Doo! Case File #2: The Scary
Math 1
Stone Dragon
School Zone Interactive, 800-253-0564, $19.99, ages 5-6, Win; Mac,
Riverdeep - The Learning Company,,
$24.95, 5-10, 9/03
The All Star
Clifford Thinking Adventures
LeapZone Turbo Twist Math
Scholastic Consumer Software, 800-724-6527, $19.95, ages 4-6, Win,
LeapFrog, 800-701-5327,
ages where
6-up, Smart Toy, 7/01
Math Missions K-2: The Race to Spectacle
Curious George Downtown Adventure
we City
a running list of
Knowledge Adventure, 800-545-7677, $19.99, ages 3-6, Win, Mac,
Scholastic, Inc., 212-343-6100, $19.95, ages 5-8, Macintosh,
Windows, 7/03
Ollo and the Sunny Valley Fair
Money &
Fractions, Math
2 and Math 3
Hulabee Entertainment, 425-739-2700, $19.99, ages 3-6, Win, Mac,
School Zone Interactive, 800-253-0564, $19.99, ages 6-8, Win; Mac
New titles are marked
a red
& 2nd Grade
➟Blue's Clues: Blue Takes You to School
Atari,, $19.99, ages 3-6, 9/03
➟Tonka Town
Atari,, $19.99, ages 4-7, 9/03
Beginning Sounds, Same or Different, Reading
Readiness, Beginning Reading
Scholastic Consumer Software, 800-724-6527, $19.95, ages 4-6, Win;
Help Me 2 Learn Phonics 1a - Vowel Sounds
Help Me 2 Learn Company,, $29.95, 4-8,
Win, Mac, 3/03
Quest for the Code
STARBRIGHT Foundation, 310-479-1212, $free, ages 7-up,
Win, 1/03
Disney's Toontown Online
Buena Vista Games, 818-553-5000, $9.95/month, ages 6-12,
Windows with Internet Connection, 7/03
Topics Entertainment, 425-656-3621, $19.99, ages 6-8, Win, Mac,
Powerpuff Girls Mojo Jojo's Clone Zone
Riverdeep - The Learning Company, 800-825-4420, $19.99, 6-10,
Win, Mac, 11/02
➟The Powerpuff Girls Learning Challenge #
2: Princess Snorebucks
Riverdeep - The Learning Company,,
$19.99, 6-10, 9/03
School Zone, 800-253-0564, $19.99, Win/Mac
Clifford Reading
Liberty's Kids CD-ROM: The Real
Adventures of the American Revolution
Mozart's Magic Flute the Music Game
Music Games International LLC - Quaint Interactive, Inc.,, $19.95, 4-up, Win, 3/03
Hoyle Puzzle Games 2003
Sierra On-Line (Vivendi), 800-757-7707, $29.95, 7-up, Win,
Mac, Palm OS, 11/02
Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and
Chesster, Tivola Electronic Publishing, Inc., 877-848-6520,
$29.95, 8-up, Win/Mac, 5/03
Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake
Her Interactive, Inc., 800-561-0908, $19.99, ages 10-up, Win,
Zoombinis Island Odyssey
Riverdeep - The Learning Company, 800-825-4420, $24.99, 8up, Win, Mac, 11/02
Zoo Tycoon
Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400, $24.95, ages 6-up, Win, 5/02
Math Arena
Sunburst Communications, 800-338-3457, $24.95, ages 8-12,
Win 95, Win; Mac
Math Missions 3-5: The Amazing Arcade
Scholastic, Inc.,, $19.95, 8-10, 9/03
The Flying Carpet: A Mathematical
Tool Factory, Inc.,, $59.00, 8-12, 9/03
Help Me 2 Learn Phonics 1b - Consonant
➟Fiesta in the House
Help Me 2 Learn Company,, $29.95, 4-8,
Win, Mac, 3/03
LeapFrog,, $15, 6-10, 9/03
ClueFinders’ Series (Grades 4, 5 and 6)
Flash Action Phonics Made Easy
➟Kaplan GMAT, LSAT & GRE 2004 Deluxe
My First LeapPad: Pooh's Honey Tree
LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., 800-701-5327, $12.99, ages 3-up, My
First LeapPad, 7/02
School Zone Interactive, 800-253-0564, $14.95, 4-7, Win/Mac,
➟ I SPY Fantasy
The Learning Company, 800-716-8506, $29.95 each, Win; Mac
Topics Entertainment,, $49.99, na, 9/03
Curious George Reading and Phonics
Scholastic, Inc.,, $19.95, 6-10, 9/03
Knowledge Adventure, 800-545-7677, $19.99, ages 3-6, Win, Mac,
LeapFrog, 800-883-7430, $79.99, ages 4-up, Smart Toy
Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory 2.0
Student Version Alfred Publishing, 818-891-5999,
$59.95, Win/Mac 5/03
Music Blocks
LeapZone Turbo Twist Spelling
Neurosmith, 800-220-3669, $49.99, ages 1-up, Smart Toy
➟Learn Through Music
LeapFrog, 800-701-5327, $39.99, ages 6-up, Smart Toy, 5/01
World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia, 2003
Fisher-Price, Inc.,, $34.99, ages 1.5 to 4, 9/03
World Book, 800-621-8202, $39.95, ages 10-up, Win, 1/02
Fisher-Price, Inc.,, $49.99, ages 3-8, 9/03
➟PowerTouch Learning System
➟Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection
Microsoft Corp.,, $29.99, 10-up, 9/03
Middle and High School
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0
Adobe Systems Incorporated,, $99, 9-up, Win, Mac, 3/03
Hallmark Card Studio Deluxe 2003
Sierra Home, 800-757-7707, $49.95, 6-up, Win, 11/02
iMovie 2
Apple Computer, 800-282-2732, $49.00, ages 7-up, Mac OS9 or better
Macromedia Studio MX
Macromedia, Inc., $99,, Win XP, Mac OSX, 3/03
Age of Mythology
Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400, $49.95, 12-up, Win 98, XP, 2000, 1GB of
hard disk space, 11/02
Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions
Dynamix (a Sierra Company), 800-757-7707, $29.95, ages 10-up, Win,
Mac, 7/01
Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel
Her Interactive Inc., 800-561-0908, $19.99, ages 10-up, Windows, 7/03
Math Advantage 2004
Encore Software, 800-507-1375, $40, ages 11-up, Windows XP, 7/03
Math Arena Advanced
Sunburst Technology, 877-586-7123, $79.95, ages 12-up, Win, Mac, 9/02
American Idol
Vivendi Universal Publishing, 800-545-7677, $30.00, ages 7-up, Win,
eMedia Guitar Songs Vol. 1, Version 2.0 Version 2.0,
eMedia, 888-363-3424, $29.95, ages 12-up, Win, Mac, 5/02
Family Tree Maker Deluxe V 10
Brøderbund (The Learning Company), 800-716-8506, $69.99, 13-up, Win,
Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2004
Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400, $69.99, ages 8-up, Win, 7/03
World Book How to Study
World Book, Inc., 800-621-8202, $32.00, 10-up, Windows, 5/03
Civilization III
Infogrames, 800-477-3650, $49.99, ages 12-up, Win, 1/02
RollerCoaster Tycoon 2
MicroProse Software, 800-695-4263, $29.95, ages 9-up, Win
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of
Microsoft Corp.,, $54.95, 10-up, 9/03
The Sims Deluxe Edition
Maxis (Electronic Arts), 800-336-2947, $40, 10-up, Win, 11/02
SimCity 4
Maxis (Electronic Arts),, $49.95, 12-up, Windows
XP/ME/2000/98. Windows NT and 95 not supported., 3/03
➟Kaplan SAT, ACT & PSAT 2004 Edition
Topics Entertainment,, $39.99, 15-up, 9/03
➟Kaplan SAT, ACT & PSAT Deluxe 2004 Edition
Topics Entertainment,, $49.99, 15-up, 9/03
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Version 15
The Learning Company, 800-543-9778, $39.99, ages 8-up, Win, 9/01
Typing Instructor Deluxe Version 15.0
Individual Software Incorporated,, $29.95,
10-up, Win, 3/03
➟Hoyle Majestic Chess
Vivendi Universal Games,, $19.99, 10-up, 9/03
➟Kasparov Chessmate
Broderbund,, $29.99, 8-up, 9/03
How we select All Star Award products...
“Tell a child there are a billion stars in the sky, and she’ll believe you. Tell her the paint on that
park bench is wet, and she’ll have to touch it to find out. The best new media products are made by
people understand how children think.”
The following checklist was developed after observing children use a variety of different
types of interactive media products. This checklist attempts to capture qualities that are
related to a child’s engagement with a product. We use it, along with as much child testing as we have time for, to assign ratings and select CSR’s All Star products.
I. Ease of Use (Can my child use it
with minimal help?)
IV. Entertaining (Is this program
fun to use?)
___Skills needed to operate the program are in
range of the child
___Children can use the program independently after the first use
___Accessing key menus is straightforward
___Reading ability is not prerequisite to using
the program
___Graphics make sense to the intended user
___Printing routines are simple
___It is easy to get in or out of any activity at
any point
___Getting to the first menu is quick and easy
___Controls are responsive to the touch
___Written materials are helpful
___Instructions can be reviewed on the screen,
if necessary
___Children know if they make a mistake
___Icons are large and easy to select with a
moving cursor
___Installation procedure is straightforward
and easy to do
___The program is enjoyable to use
___Graphics are meaningful and enjoyed by
___This program is appealing to a wide audience
___Children return to this program time after
___Random generation techniques are
employed in the design
___Speech and sounds are meaningful to children
___Challenge is fluid, or a child can select own
___The program is responsive to a child’s
___The theme of the program is meaningful to
There should be no
mystery to the rating
process. That’s why we
publish the criteria
we (How "smart" is
V. Design Features
this program?)
use to generate
___The program has speech capacity
II. Childproof (Is it designed
___Keeps records of child’s work
"child-reality" in mind?)
___Survives the "pound on the keyboard" test
___Offers a quick, clear, obvious response to a
child’s action
___The child has control over the rate of display
___The child has control over exiting at any
___The child has control over the order of the
___Title screen sequence is brief or can be
___When a child holds a key down, only one
input is sent to the computer
___Files not intended for children are safe
___Children know when they’ve made a mistake
___This program would operate smoothly in a
home or classroom setting
III. Educational (What can my child
learn from this program?)
___Offers a good presentation of one or more
content areas
___Graphics do not detract from the program’s
educational intentions
___Feedback employs meaningful graphic and
sound capabilities
___Speech is used
___The presentation is novel with each use
___Good challenge range (this program will
grow with the child)
___Feedback reinforces content (embedded
reinforcements are used)
___Program elements match direct experiences
___Content is free from gender bias
___Content is free from ethnic bias
___A child’s ideas can be incorporated into the
___The program comes with strategies to
extend the learning
___There is a sufficient amount of content
___"Branches" automatically: challenge level is
___A child’s ideas can be incorporated into the
___Sound can be toggled or adjusted
___Feedback is customized in some way to the
individual child
___Program keeps a history of the child’s use
over a period of time
___Teacher/parent options are easy to find and
VI. Value (How much does it cost
vs. what it does? Is it worth it?)
Considering the factors rated above, and the
average retail price of software, rate this program’s relative value.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Copyright 1983-2003
Active Learning Associates, Inc.
Key to the Ratings
Very Good
A checklist version of this form (with
procedures for scoring) is published in
the Complete Sourcebook on Children’s
Interactive Media.
Buy It: You won’t be sorry.
Borrow It: Fun for a few days.
Bag It: Don’t bother
Now you know what we think, what about you have to say?
Welcome to PVA, the place for news about videogames from a
parent/educator’s perspective.
his has been a great year for children’s videogames and peripheral
devices; especially for multiplayer
games. Here’s a rundown of the latest
titles. The three main game consoles are
listed first, and the Game Boy Advance
is listed next. In each section, the highest rated titles are listed first.
Cube, Xbox or PlayStation)
Backyard Basketball, 4.8 or
The first Backyard Basketball for a
game console, this is in many ways
better than the PC version, at least in
terms of game play. PlayStation 2,
Everyone. Buy It.
Maxis (Electronic Arts), 2003, $30.00
The Sims Bustin’ Out
800-336-2947 ,
✔ Teaches
, 2003, $30.00
☎ 800-336-2947 ,
Rating Details
Ease of Use
Design Features
Good Value
For Ages 15-up
For Grades 9, S, Jr, Sr.
Runs on Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Game Boy
Overall Rating
Reviewer Comments
1 = Dud
2 = Poor
3 = Fair
4 = Good
5 = Outstanding
Now the Sims can fit in your pocket, with this Game Boy Advance edition.
Unfortunately, the game contains some nasty content that isn't E for Everyone (the
rating assigned by the ESRB). Players begin by creating a male or female Sim with
a unique appearance and personality to control throughout the game. They then
must guide the Sim through life, taking care to satisfy the traditional core Sim
motives including bladder, comfort, hygiene, and hunger. Players start life in a
barn, and work to move up to a mansion with a view. Features include a scooter to
move around, the ability to adopt pets, and the ability to have conversations with
other Sims (a new feature) by selecting from a series of text comments,
multiple-choice style. There are over 150 objects such as a punching bag, fishing rod,
and boom box that are collected by attending auctions, going directly to stores, or by
trading with other characters. Progress is saved automatically, for long term play.
The game is compelling and the test-kids loved it.
So what's the problem with the content? Nothing, as long as you play as a male
Sim (as far as we could tell). But if you play as a female, the character tries to pick
up men in a bar, with lines that include "Want to lock tongues?", "That black
leather of yours makes me wild", and "Are you old enough for an R-rated kiss?" At
one point, she asks a police detective "If I do something naughty, will you use your
handcuffs?" The ESRB rating of "Everyone" does not seem accurate in the context of
these types of remarks, and it is troubling that Maxis would include this type of
material in a game that will undoubtedly find itself in the hands of many children,
given the Game Boy Advance format. This will cast a shadow over the entire Sims
line, which, to this point, has never exposed children to such overtly sexual
language and cheap content. For this reason, we have not assigned a rating. Created
for Maxis by Griptonite Games.
We have five
interns that review the
latest games. We look over
their shoulders, and
report on what we find
in PVA.
NCAA Football 2004, 4.8 or
This is one of the best football sims
we've ever reviewed. The whole thing
is very realistic; from the crowd noise
to the subtle expressions on the player's faces. GameCube, Xbox,
PlayStation 2. Buy It.
Drome Racers, 4.7 or
— A fun,
fast-paced family racing game for all
ages. It’s easy to learn, with powerful
graphics, action and sounds.
GameCube, PlayStation 2, Everyone,
Violence. Buy It.
Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure, 4.7
— This fun and addicting
Disney-themed skateboard challenge
uses the powerful Tony Hawk's pro
Skater 4 game engine. Kids either create their own character, or skate as
Continued on page 36
In general, the ESRB ratings and descriptors will do a great job telling you what’s
worrisome about a game, and you can now search by rating at
Notet that CSR does not review or screen MATURE (M) rated games, unless our
testers are begging for them. That said, here are a few parental FYIs you’ll want to
be aware of.
• Some of the lines of dialog in The Sims Bustin’ Out are not approprate for children, despite the ESRB rating of E. This is a fun, addicting game that runs on the
Game Boy Advance. Unfortunately some of the lines of dialog are simply bizzare,
and we have no idea why they are in an otherwise great game (see above review
for examples). So be warned.
• Tony Hawk Underground is trying to be more like Grand Theft Auto, with themes
our interns felt were not appropriate for elementary school age children. ESRB
descriptors are vague in this regard given the TEEN rating. Blood disappears
after about 2 seconds; not bad. Violence is minimal-- the worst part is falling off
your skateboard. The Language is strong; characters swear at times, and the
suggestive themes include dialog such as "the car is a rocking, so don't come
knocking." There is also a strip club scene with scantily clad dancers. In one of
the videos it appears that an underage kid is drinking. Again, this is a fun game,
paired with mature content, with a Teen rating. The recipe for a worried parent.
Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
Unusual Talents
This LittleClickers column
is sponsored by
Have you ever wanted to be able to do something that nobody
else can do? Something really special? We searched the Internet to find
some web sites that can help you do all kinds of fun things. They’re all
free, but they can take a lot of work. Good luck.
Here’s a simple set of animated instructions
you how
to juggle three balls, at the
same time! It takes a LOT of practice!
need 3 tennis
oranges that you
don’t plan on eating) and some room to throw. Here are two links. The first is very simof safe, educational webple, the second is a flash tutorial that is great for teaching you how to time your hands.
sites. This is an activity
Start easy-->
Then try this-->
page for both parents and
children to do
This site was created by a hair expert who makes
her living
helping brides get ready for weddings. It has instructions
on how to make easy braids, or very fancy ones. You’ll need
hair ties and a sister, horse, or mom to practice.
Here’s the home page of B.A.Lert, a police clown, who gives you
animated tips for tying balloons. You’ll need: a basic balloon
art kit, available in any toy store.
Once you’ve mastered a few tricks, get more ideas at
You’ve seen
them in
parades -bikes with one
wheel. Here’s
a page that’s
dedicated to
the art of riding a unicycle,
including a set of instructions
for getting off the ground.
There’s even a video of a
rider bungie jumping on a
Unicycle. You’ll need: a unicycle, kneepads and a helmet.
Palindromes are special poems, where the words actually make different shapes.
Here’s the site of an education professor who does it for a hobby.
Hey, we found a set of instructions, from the Bay Weekly
newspaper, on how to talk like
Donald Duck. All you need is
your mouth, but it takes a LOT
of practice!
Did you know that there’s a guy who
makes his living by whistling? He
even calls himself “The Whistler” but
his real name is Robert Stemmons, and he started
whistling when he was only five years old. Visit his
site at Next, visit Steve
Thompson’s site for step by step instructions on
making bird sounds, including an owl.
In choosing the links on this page, we first considered ease of use, and then looked at accuracy, relevance and developmental appropriateness. CSR
or the page sponsor has no business connection with any of these links. This page is designed for parents and children to do together. You’ll find
direct access to past columns at
Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
Dear CSR Editors,
Your publication is a great
ordering tool for me when
I am selecting programs
for my library. I also use your database
quite often. Keep up the good work. I
would prefer more reviews on software,
rather than toys, though. Would you
consider listing the ISBN numbers of
each title? Librarians would find this
very helpful. Thank you.
Lisa H., Northport-Eastport Public
Dear Lisa,
Thank you for your kind words and suggestions.
Regarding the ISBNs, next year, we plan to update
our search features and include this information if
it is available to us (sometimes companies don't
send us the ISBN). Note that we do include ISBNs
in the Directory of each issue, but we understand
that this is essential information for the database as
Dear CSR :
I LOVE your magazine. I have relied
on it for years to help select CD-ROMs
for the library where I work as a
Children's Librarian. I have found the
reviews to be thorough and fair, which
is why I was disappointed to see a
slanted excerpt of one of your reviews
on We recently received
a patron request for Playhouse Disney's
Rolie Polie Olie: Search for Spot.
When I checked to see if I could order it
from Amazon, I noticed that your
review of this title on Amazon's site
made no mention of the product’s
drawbacks, which are described in the
full review on your own site. Why is
this? And why is there no indication on
Amazon's site that what readers are seeing is just an excerpt of your original
review? Please keep telling it like it is,
CSR! Software purchasers are relying on
you to give them an unbiased perspective of the products you review. Thank
Lisa C., Monroe County Public Library
Bloomington, IN
Dear LisaThank you so much for bringing this issue to our
attention. We looked into it, and discovered that
Amazon was using a prerelease review by accident.
(CSR licenses reviews to We have
emailed them the updated, full review, which has
now been posted. We’ve also checked other CSR
reviews on the Amazon site, and they are OK. No
excerpting! Again, thanks for your kind words and
good catch.
Type to Learn 3
Dear CSR—
4.4 stars, Sunburst;
I'm trying to decide
Updated in 2002, this keyboarding program offers a nice alternative
to Mavis Beacon. More kid-oriented, the software's 25 lessons are
whether to subscribe or
set within a time travel theme. Children can take the sequential
not. I don't have time to
lessons, which are illustrated by a pair of hands on a keyboard and
read the magazines - I'm
then play six different skill games or write in the simple word processing area. The lessons are straightforward and long, but effecreally looking for a
tive. The games are fairly fun. In one, for instance, you have to type
database with reviews
to clear your time machine's windshield so you can see what historiand ratings on children's
cal place you are at. Another game focuses on the SHIFT and number keys. All activities keep records of student performance, includsoftware that contains
ing accuracy and words per minute, and there are numerous ways to
most of the current educustomize the experience in the teacher option area. We wish there
cational titles. Could
was a built in pretest, but you have to buy Type to Learn
you send me an example
Assessment for this function.
of one of your online
so I can
make a
have cat- example from the September/October
2003 issue. On page 16 in the All Star
egories such as subject, 5-star rating,
age, etc., so it’s easy
to find
specific sub- Awards, Reader Rabbit Toddler Deluxe
was listed. I tried to find it for purchase
jects like Math, Science etc. for the
at my usual vendors and was not able
6-9 yr olds that work on XP? We don't
to locate it. I keep some notes on softbuy areply
huge amount
software but are
withof clear,
ware titles and found that in December
very fussy about what we do buy—I
practical answers.
2001 a vendor told me that this title was
like to research very thoroughly first.
discontinued. Today, I called the pubThanks for your help. Janet F.
lisher you listed in your magazine, The
Learning Company, and they no longer
Hi Janet,
Our online database, with over 6,000 reviews, does
had this title for sale. No record of the
all that you describe and more. You can pinpoint
title at all! This happens with each issue
just the very best products– right down to age
our librarians use for software selection.
range, platform, specific subject and rating; and
we’ve managed to keep it up to date for the past
There is always at least one title, often
five years— not a bad track record when things
more, that is not on the market any
change so quickly. In other words, if you see it for
longer. Sometimes they can be found
sale, you’ll find a review.
from a vendor that handles closeouts
and discontinued titles, but it is very
Dear CSR,
difficult to find them. I would like to
I would like to include keyboarding as
suggest that you consider a new criteria
part of our Tech curriculum. Could you
for titles reviewed: only titles that can
give me a recommendation on typing
be found from major vendors.
software that would accommodate 1st
Thanks for listening.
through 6th grades? I know Mavis
Beacon is out there, but it isn't geared to Dear Martha,
the younger children. Is there a good
You are absolutely right— it can be very frustrating to find software, especially when companies
program that doesn't cost an arm and a
switch product names and packaging so often that
leg? Also, what is your take on
even they can't keep things straight. Take Reader
Kidspiration and Inspiration? They
Rabbit Toddler Deluxe, for instance. When we first
look pretty fantastic, but I'd appreciate
reviewed that title, it was indeed available at major
retail outlets. Now it seems to be available only in
your input. Thanks so much for your
bins or in repackaged "bundles". And, in
expertise! Lissa M., Daycroft Montessori bargain
the repackaging, they've dropped the "deluxe" from
School, Ann Arbor, MI
the title, making it even harder to find, or know
Hi LissaRegarding the typing program, we like Sunburst’s
Type to Learn 3 (review is listed above). And both
Inspiration and Kidspiration are excellent.
Dear CSR
I order software for a public library. The
librarians here rely on your reviews to
assist them in software selection. Often,
the titles they select from your current
issues of Children's Software & New
Media Revue are discontinued and not
readily available for purchase. Here's an
Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
which CD you are buying. Here are a couple tricks
to locating "hard-to-find" programs. First, be sure
to know the copyright date of the program you
want. Titles change, but copyright dates don't.
Second, try using the links on our Comparison
Shopping page at Online catalogs like
have excellent selections of older software. ✪
We welcome questions, stories and especially reviews
from our readers. Submitted materials become property
of CSR and may not be returned.
Editors • CSR • 120 Main Street • Flemington NJ 08822
[email protected] (Warren Buckleitner)
[email protected] (Ann Orr)
of New Releases
September/October 2003
Here is an alphabetical directory
of the new titles listed in this
issue. Note that software information changes often. Check
with the companies directly for
the latest information., $29.99, Game Boy Advance, 7up, Everyone, page 27
Disney's Party, 3.2 stars, Electronic Arts, 800245-4525,, $39.95, GameBoy
Advance, GameCube, 6-12, Everyone, page 27
Donkey Kong Country, 4.7 stars, Nintendo of
America, 800-255-3700,,
$29.99, Game Boy Advance, 8-up, Everyone,
page 27
Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures, 3.5
stars, Atari, 978-921-3372,, $19.99, Windows XP,
4-7, page 8
Encarta 2004 Reference Library, 4.7 stars,
Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400,, $49.99, Windows, 8-up,
page 15
Encarta 2004 Reference Library Plus DVD, 4.8
stars, Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400,, $49.99, Windows, 8-up,
page 15
Exploring the World of Thomas Day, 4.5 stars,
Thomas Day Project, 919-544-2796,, $59.95, Macintosh,
Windows, 9-14, 0-9726129-0-4, page 22
FanCraftic Party Crafts, 3.8 stars, Fancraftic
Press, 707-578-3982,,
$29.95, Windows, 8-up, 0-9724051-0-0, page
Fiesta in the House, 4.8 stars, LeapFrog, 800701-5327,, $15, LeapPad, 610, page 12
Freaky Flyers, 4.1 stars, MIdway Games, Inc.,
773-961-2222,, $call,
GameCube, Playstation 2, Xbox and Game Boy
Advance, Teen, page 27
From Mad to Worse Anger Management, 4.0
stars, Boulden Publishing Inc., 800-238-8433,
not available, $29.95, page Macintosh,
Windows, 7-12, 23
Girl's Guitar Method 1, 4.0 stars, Alfred
Publishing, 818-891-5999,,
$14.95, Windows, 10-up, 0-7390-2906-1, page
18, stars,, not available, $35.00/year, Internet Site, 5-up, 24
GuruNet, 4.7 stars, Atomica Corporation, 845818-3988,, $40/year,
Windows, 7-up, 19
Hate Comes Home, 4.5 stars, WILL Interactive,
Inc., 301-983-6006,,
$89.95, Windows, Macintosh, 13-up, 23
Hot Dog Stand: Top Dog, 4.2 stars, Sunburst
Technology, 800-321-7511,,
$99.95/ten users, Macintosh, Windows, 10-14,
Hoyle Majestic Chess, 4.5 stars, Vivendi
Universal Games, 800-545-7677,, $19.99, Windows, 10-up, 30
I Spy Fantasy, 4.8 stars, Scholastic, Inc., 212343-6100,, $19.95,
Macintosh, Windows, 6-10, page 12
Image Gallery, stars, Discovery School and Kids
Group, 301-771-4470,,
$29.95, Windows, Macintosh, 1-58738-452-3,
page 24
Imaginext Pirate Raider, 4.4 stars, Vivendi
Universal Games, 800-545-7677,, $19.99, Windows XP,
Macintosh OSX, 5-10, page 11
Interactive Glory Math Workbooks and CDs,
4.0 stars, Glory Educational Resource, Inc.,
$19.95 each, Windows, Macintosh, 5-10, page
International Children's Digital Library (ICDL),
4.2 stars, ICDL, not available, $free, Internet
Site, 3-12, pages 5, 11
Just 2 Days: Addressing School Violence, 4.5
stars, WILL Interactive, Inc., 301-983-6006,, $99.00, Windows,
Macintosh, 13-up, page 23
Kaplan GMAT, LSAT & GRE 2004 Deluxe
Edition, 4.7 stars, Topics Entertainment, 425656-3621,, $49.99, Win, 159150-303-5, page 19
Kaplan SAT, ACT & PSAT 2004 Edition, 4.7
stars, Topics Entertainment, 425-656-3621,, $39.99, Win, 15-up, 159150-299-3, page 19
Kaplan SAT, ACT & PSAT Deluxe 2004 Edition,
4.7 stars, Topics Entertainment, 425-656-3621,, $49.99, Win, 15-up, 159150-301-9, page 19
Kaplan SAT, ACT & PSAT Jewel Case Edition,
4.5 stars, Topics Entertainment, 425-656-3621,, $9.99, Win, 15-up, 159150-304-3, page 19
Kasparov Chessmate, 4.3 stars, Riverdeep The Learning Company, 800-825-4420,, $29.99, Windows
98/ME/2000/XP, Pocket PC, Palm OS and
Microsoft Smartphone, 8-up, page 30
Keyboard Scramble, Educational Insights, 800858-9914,, $49.95, Smart Toy, 4up, page 13
Kid's Guitar Course 1, 4.0 stars, Alfred
Publishing, 818-891-5999,,
$14.95, Windows, 5-9, 0-88284-989-1, page 12
Kinetic City: Mission to Vearth, American
Association for the Advancement of Science,
not available, $1500/year, Internet-delivered, 812, page 23
Learn Through Music, 4.6 stars, Fisher-Price,
Inc., 800-432-5437,,
$34.99, Smart Toy, 1.5 to 4, page 8
Learning Fun 2 (Pixter), 4.1 stars, Fisher-Price,
Inc., 800-432-5437,,
$14.95, Pixter, 4-up, page 9
Learning Right From Wrong in the Digital Age,
stars, Linworth Publishing, Inc., 800-786-5017,, 1-58683-131-3, page 30
Liberty's Kids EEV (School Edition), 4.7 stars,
Riverdeep - The Learning Company, 800-8254420,, $69.95,
Macintosh, Windows, 9-14, page 62
LittleTouch LeapPad: One Bear in the
Bedroom, 3.9 stars, LeapFrog, 800-701-5327,, $40, Smart Toy, 6 months 3 years, page 7
Math Missions 3-5: The Amazing Arcade
Adventure, 4.6 stars, Scholastic, Inc., 212-3436100,, $19.95, Macintosh,
Windows, 8-10, Everyone, page 14
Math Practice Tool Chest, 4.0 stars, Lewis
Works, not available,, $19.95, Windows
(Mac version coming), 5-14, page 15
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of
Flight, 4.5 stars, Microsoft Corp., 800-4269400,, $54.95, Win, 10-up,
Everyone, page 19
Midtown Madness 3, 4.5 stars, Microsoft Corp.,
800-426-9400,, $49.99,
Xbox , 10-up, Everyone, page 27
Minolta DiMage Xt Digital Camera, Minolta
USA, 201-825-4000, not available, $380,
Windows, Macintosh, page 3
NetOp School v2.5, CrossTec Corp, 800-6750729,, $895/class, Win,
page 24
New Teacher Site,, not available,
$free, Internet Site, page 24
Pajama Sam: Life is Rough When You Lose
Your Stuff, 4.5 stars, Atari, 978-921-3700,, $24.95, Windows , 5-9, page 13
PhotoShow 2.1, 4.2 stars, Simple Star, Inc., 415861-7529,, $29.99,
Windows, Macintosh, 8-up, page 18
Pinpoint, Sagebrush Corporation, 800-328-2923,, $call, Internet Site,
page 22
Pixter Color, 4.6 stars, Fisher-Price, Inc., 800432-5437,, $80, Pixter, 4up, page 9
Planet Wobble, 4.0 stars, Crick Software, Inc.,
866-332-7425,, $59.00/CD +
3 books, Macintosh, Windows, 5-7, page 23
Play Chess Fritz 8, 4.0 stars, Viva Media (formerly Tivola), 877-848-6520,, $39.95, Windows, XP/98/ME/2000,
9-up, page 30
Pokemon Pinball Ruby & Sapphire, 4.5 stars,
Nintendo of America, 800-255-3700,, $34.95, Game Boy Advance, 6-up,
Everyone, page 27
Power Chips & High Rollers, 4.0 stars, Mumbo
Jumbo, 214-855-5955,,
$19.99, 8-up, page 18
PowerTouch Learning System, 4.5 stars,
Fisher-Price, Inc., 800-432-5437,, $49.99, PowerTouch, 3-8, page 9
Reader Rabbit Reading Builder EEV, 4.2 stars,
Riverdeep - The Learning Company, 800-8254420,, $69.95,
Macintosh, Windows, 4-8, page 22
Rescue Heroes Billy Blazes, 4.6 stars, Vivendi
Universal Publishing (Knowledge Adventure),
310-649-8000,, $29.99,
Game Boy Advance, 4-7, page 27
Rich Diamond, 4.0 stars, Core Concepts
Incorporated, 877-267-3426,, $20.00, Windows, 8-up, page 14
Saying Goodbye, 4.1 stars, Boulden Publishing
Inc., 800-238-8433,, $29.95,
Macintosh, Windows, 5-9, page 20
scheduleUs, stars, Vision Ventures, LLC, 877724-3387,, $189.00,
Windows, page 24
Science Snoops: The Case of the Missing
Monarchs, 4.3 stars, Kinder Magic Software,
760-632-6693,, $24.95,
Macintosh, Windows, 12-16, page 23
Scooby-Doo! Case File #2: The Scary Stone
Dragon, 4.4 stars, Riverdeep - The Learning
Company, 800-825-4420,, $24.95, Windows/Mac, 5-10, page 10
Simple Sentence Structure Sterling Edition,
Laureate learning Systems, 800-562-6801,, $190.00, Windows,
Macintosh, page 24
SplashDown Rides Gone Wild, 4.8 stars, THQ,
818-871-5000,, $39.99,
PlayStation 2, 8-up, Everyone, page 27
Sports (Pixter), 4.0 stars, Fisher-Price, Inc., 800432-5437,, $16, Pixter, 4up, page 9
Find products fast!
The inside back cover
always contains an alphabetical list of every title listed in the issue, along with
price, ISBN, rating, URL and
other essential details.
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, 4.3 stars, Buena
Vista Games (formerly Disney Interactive), 818553-5000,, Game
Boy Advance, 6-12, page 27
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, 4.8
stars, LucasArts Entertainment Company, 888532-4263,, $49.99, Xbox,
PC, 13-up, Teen, page 27
Sticks and Stones Interactive CD-ROM on
Teasing, 4.0 stars, Boulden Publishing Inc.,
$29.95, Macintosh, Windows, 7-12, page 23
Student Behavior Intervention Planner Online
(S-BIP), Curriculum Associates, Inc., 800-2250248,, $call,
Internet Site, page 24
StudyDog, StudyDog, 866-643-4449,, $79.95/course, Windows,
5-8, page 13
Switched on Sound: Movements in 20th
Century Music, 4.3 stars, erroyo, 865-5841600, $89.99, Macintosh, Windows, 13-up,
page 22
Teach Yourself to Play Guitar Deluxe Edition,
4.4 stars, Alfred Publishing, 818-891-5999,, $49.95, Windows, Macintosh,
10-up, 0-7390-3008-6, page 18
Teach Yourself to Play Piano Deluxe Edition,
4.4 stars, Alfred Publishing, 818-891-5999,, $49.95, Windows, Macintosh,
10-up, 0-7390-3012-4, page 18
Technology Timesavers: Simple Steps to
Increasing Classroom Productivity, Linworth
Publishing, Inc., 800-786-5017,, 1-58683-122-4, page 30
The Flying Carpet: A Mathematical Journey,
4.4 stars, Tool Factory, Inc., 800-220-8386,, $59.00, Windows, 8-12,
page 14
The Hobbit, 4.7 stars, Vivendi Universal Games,
800-545-7677,, $49.95,
GameCube, Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, 10up, Everyone, page 27
The Legend of Zelda (Game Boy Advance), 4.4
stars, Nintendo of America, 800-255-3700,, $34.95, Game Boy
Advance, 7-up (our guess), Everyone, page 27
The Powerpuff Girls Learning Challenge # 2:
Princess Snorebucks, 4.6 stars, Riverdeep The Learning Company, 800-825-4420,, $19.99,
Windows/Mac, 6-10, page 11
The Print Shop Deluxe 15 EEV, 4.7 stars,
Riverdeep - The Learning Company, 800-8254420,, $79.95,
Macintosh, Windows, 6-up, page 20
The Red Planet, 2.5 stars, RWR Inovations, 678528-5048,, Windows, 4-up,
page 12
The Theory of Plate Tectonics, 4.5 stars, Tasa
Graphic Arts, Inc., 505-758-5535,, $59.95, Macintosh, Windows,
13-up, 1-58256-039-0, page 23
Thomas & Friends: Thomas Saves the Day,
4.0 stars, Atari, 978-921-3700,,
$19.95, Windows, 4-7, page 8
Tonka Town, 4.5 stars, Atari, 978-921-3700,, $19.99, Windows XP, 4-7, page
Tool Factory Workshop Deluxe, 4.2 stars, Tool
Factory, Inc., 802-366-8253,, $289.95, Win, 5-up, page
Toy Store, 4.2 stars, Sunburst Technology, 877586-7123,, $89.95,
Macintosh, Windows, 7-12, page 22
Using Microsoft Access to Create Reports
from SASIxp, $99.00, page 30
Where's the Play?, 3.5 stars, P&P Studios Inc.,
$24.95, Windows, Macintosh, 6-12, page 15
Word Menu, 4.4 stars, Write Brothers Inc., 818843-6557, not available, $34.95, Windows,
Macintosh, 8-up, page 19
Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection, 4.7 stars,
Microsoft Corp., 800-426-9400,, $29.99, Windows, 10-up,
Everyone, page 15
New reviews: 114
For Windows: 69
For Macintosh: 38
For Consoles: 16
Online Reviews: 6271
For reviews of any title, visit
and use the password printed on
your subscriber label.
Condensed Sample Issue • Children's Software Revue •
Directory of New Releases
Academy of Reading, AutoSkill,, $call, Win 95, Win 98 (CDROM), 7-up, page 23
Acer TravelMate C110, Acer of America,
408.922.2921,, $2,200, Windows
XP, 3-up, page 5
Agendus for Palm OS Standard Edition 6.1,
Iambic, Inc., $24.95, Palm OS, page 22
algebra'scool, BestQuest teaching systems,
Inc., 501-228-9100,,
$1,895.00, DVD, 13-up, page 22
Ape Economics, 4.0 stars,,, $10.00, Windows, 8-up,
page 14
Arcade (Pixter), 4.2 stars, Fisher-Price, Inc., 800432-5437,, $16, Pixter, 4up, page 9
Backyard Basketball 2004, 4.8 stars, Atari, 978921-3372,, $19.99,
Windows XP, 7-up, page 15
Backyard Soccer 2004, 4.6 stars, Humongous
Entertainment, 800-791-7128,, $19.99, Win, Mac, 7-up, page 13
Barbie Beauty Boutique, 4.3 stars, Vivendi
Universal Publishing (Knowledge Adventure),
310-649-8000,, $29.99,
Windows, 5-up, page 10
Barbie Fashion Show (Pixter), 3.7 stars, FisherPrice, Inc., 800-432-5437,, $16, Pixter, 4-up, page 9
Barbie Horse Adventures: Mystery Ride, 4.5
stars, Vivendi Universal Publishing (Knowledge
Adventure), 310-649-8000,,
$29.99, Windows , 5-up, page 10
Barbie Horse Adventures: Wild Horse Rescue,
4.7 stars, Vivendi Universal Publishing
(Knowledge Adventure), 310-649-8000,, $49.99, PlayStation 2,
Xbox, 7-up, page 27
Barbie of Swan Lake, 4.3 stars, Vivendi
Universal Publishing (Knowledge Adventure),
310-649-8000,, $29.99,
Windows/Mac, 5-up, page 10
Beginning Reading Instruction, Course 1,
3RsPlus, 562-427-5949,,
$40.00, Macintosh, Windows, 4-6, page 8
Behind the Scenes, 4.3 stars, Kinder Magic
Software, 760-632-6693,, $24.95, Macintosh,
Windows, 15-up, page 22
Blue's Clues: Blue Takes You to School, 4.6
stars, Atari, 978-921-3700,,
$19.99, Windows XP, 3-6, 7
Capsela 620 - Bug Builder, 4.3 stars,
Educational Insights, 800-858-9914,, $34.95, Smart Toy, 5-up, page
Capsela 660 - Aqua Adventure, 4.3 stars,
Educational Insights, 800-858-9914,, $64.95, Smart Toy, 7-up, page
Clickitykids, 3.8 stars,, 513470-2645 ,, $100.00,
Windows, 3-5, page 20
Clifford the Big Red Dog Phonics, 4.0 stars,
Scholastic, Inc., 212-343-6100,, $19.95, Macintosh, Windows, 4-7, page
Creature Chorus Sterling Edition, stars,
Laureate Learning Systems, 800-562-6801,, $95.00, Windows,
Macintosh, page 23
D.M. Dinwiddie, Physician-in-Training, 4.0
stars, Health Media Lab, Inc., 800-843-1068,, $29.95, Windows
95/98/2000/XP, 8-12, page 14
Developing Critical Thinking Skills for
Effective Reading, 3.5 stars, Merit Software,
800-753-6488,, $27.00,
Windows, 10-up, page 19
Disney Learning 1st & 2nd Grade, 4.4 stars,
Disney Interactive, 800-900-9234,, Windows, Macintosh, 6-8,
Everyone, 1-57350-760-1, page 12
Disney Learning Kindergarten, 4.3 stars,
Disney Interactive, 800-900-9234,, Windows, Macintosh, 4-6,
Everyone, 1-57350-759-8, page 8
Disney Learning Preschool, 4.4 stars, Disney
Interactive, 800-900-9234,, $19.99, Windows, Macintosh, 2-5,
Everyone, 1-57350-758-X, page 8
Disney Learning Toddler, 4.0 stars, Disney
Interactive, 800-900-9234,, Windows, Macintosh, 18 mos.-3,
Everyone, 1-57350-757-1, page 7
Disney Princess, 4.0 stars, THQ, 818-871-5000,
Title, CSR Rating (1 to 5 stars), Publisher, Phone, URL, Suggested Price, Platform, Age Range, ESRB Rating, ISBN, Page in CSR
Well, that’s the
end of the tour. We hope
you like CSR, and decide
to subscribe!
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