Remember your days in elementary school? Print the alphabet five times in your composition book, please. Read four chapters for homework. Dont forget to complete your long-division assignment! Yes, learning can often be a chore for a child. This is why it is so important for educational software to spark a childs imagination.
Many software publishers now combine entertainment with education in order to capture a childs attention. Simple games and engaging characters help kids enjoy learning and maintain interest in educational activities.
Kids software can be divided into three broad categories: titles that entertain, titles that educate, and titles that both educate and entertain.
Toontown Online transports children to Disneys magical kingdom, where they create and personalize their own Toons and join forces with their friends to defeat the humorless robot Cogs. Luckily, they have over 40 gags in their arsenal, from the Opera Singer Sound Gag to the Ocean Liner Drop Gag, all of which they use to crack up the Cogs and stop them from turning Toontown into a drab metropolis of corporate monotony.
Each Toon gets its own Toon House, and six themed neighborhoods offer hundreds of quests in a safe environment that features SpeedChat and Secret Friends Parental Control technologies. Toontown Online is a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), which means kids can interact with other players around the country and experience special events and holiday activities on a regular basis.
Toons are also central to another MMOG, FusionFall, which stars many Cartoon Network characters, including the Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Dexter the boy genius, and many others. Your kids will help them save the world from being overrun by the destructive green goo known as Fusion. Players undertake missions, increase their characters abilities, and learn more about Lord Fuses diabolical scheme.
Movies and TV shows are always fertile sources of inspiration for kids games, and another Disney property, the Pixar movie Cars, formed the basis for Radiator Springs Adventure, which was published by THQ. Ten activities take children through the place where Lightning McQueen was stuck during the movie, as they learn the secrets theyll need to help Lightning win races and unlock new paint jobs, along with four fun clips from the film.
The latter features the first computer game appearance of Doras cousin, Diego, whose family runs an animal rescue center. Kids get to engage in activities ranging from reuniting lost baby animals with their mothers to waterskiing down a river to rescue a trapped creature. An in-game field journal lets little ones enjoy clips from their favorite Dora shows or create and print their own wilderness scenes. Animal Adventures also exposes children to simple Spanish words, including numbers introduced during counting exercises.
Older kids require tougher challenges, which is where Legacy Gamess Pet Pals: Animal Doctor comes into play. It features three levels of gameplay and 40 examination and treatment tools that kids use to perform check-ups and even surgery on dogs, cats, birds, elephants, lions, crocodiles, and other animals, both domestic and wild. Theyll learn plenty of fun facts as they aspire to become the top neighborhood or zoo veterinarian.
Its important to note that childrens entertainment software is not restricted to games. Many titles help unleash a childs creativity through drawing, coloring, scene building, and other fun activities.
Titles in this category are specially designed to help your child learn. The software may focus on a specific discipline, such as reading, addition and subtraction, or even basic science. In order to keep your childs attention, publishers tend to incorporate colorful animation and wacky sounds. A lively character often offers enthusiastic praise when a child answers a question correctly, and supportive comments when the child makes a mistake.
Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online stars the characters your kids know and love from the Playhouse Disney TV shows. Bear, of Bear in the Big Blue House fame, guides your child through the current learning adventure, which features a specific theme that drives the various games and activities. The learning adventures reinforce skills in eight key areas and grow with your children, becoming easier or more difficult depending on their ability to complete the previous set of games and activities.
Well-known characters also figure prominently in PBS KIDS PLAY!, an online environment aimed at preschoolers and kindergarteners whose parents want them to explore math, science, language, literacy, creativity, healthy living, and social studies. More than 20 skill areas are offered, with activities hosted by such characters as Curious George, Bob the Builder, the Berenstain Bears, Thomas & Friends, and more. The games automatically adapt to each childs development stage and offer collectible rewards when completed. Parents can track their childrens progress any time.
This class of software also includes reference titles, such as World Book Encyclopedia (The Software Mackiev Company), that are aimed at young students. In addition to informative articles, these titles often include photos, sounds, and short movies to help children gain a better understanding of the subject.
A recent edition of World Book Encyclopedia features editor-approved webcams, such as a train station in Germany and Venices Grand Canal, a World Book Media Showcase widget, and the ability to transfer your media library to an iPod or iPhone with one click. Youll also find over 4,000 new and updated articles taken straight from World Books 22-volume print edition.
M is for Macintosh
There are countless childrens titles available for the Macintosh. Many of the titles come on hybrid CDs that is, they contain both the Mac and PC versions of the game on the same disc. Inspect the box of any title that appeals to you. Theres a very good chance it is designed for the Macintosh!
Stepping up to the chalkboard
Kids software can help your child develop basic skills and learn about lost civilizations, all while having a blast. Although the software cant replace traditional schooling, it may just be able to give your child the footing they need to succeed.
Looking for websites featuring great browser-based games especially for kids? Here are a few suggestions:
- Arcademic Skill Builders
- Disneys Toontown Online
- Driving Kids
- Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall
- Gaia Online
- Hot Shot Business (Disney)
- Kids Domain
- Lego Online Games
- Nick Jr.
- PBS KIDS PLAY!
- Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online
- Pokémon Learning League
- Sports Illustrated for Kids
- Sports Squad
- WB Looney Tunes
Kids Games Features
Go in-depth with what these great publishers have to offer:
- Atari Kids Games
- Disney Interactive Games
- Edutainment Games
- Hulabee Entertainment
- Knowledge Adventure
- Tivola Publishing
Explore the Apple Store
Check out these areas of the Apple Store for great kids and family games: