Clifford Learning Activities: The Big Red Dog
Ages 4-6 (Scholastic)

     "Clifford and pals make learning BIG fun." This kid-friendly program is easy to use, and offers a variety of activities that stimulate learning of math, reading and creativity. Clifford is a delightful character who guides children through each screen and activity, and prompts them when necessary.
     After signing in, a child can choose the easy, medium or hard level. The level of difficulty increases according to the child's progress. Activities can be found at Cleo's backyard (pattern recognition, colors, shapes, counting & thinking skills), the Schoolyard (addition & subtraction, fine motor skills), Clifford's Doghouse (word recognition, coloring and creativity), the Maze (logic & reasoning), the Alley (sorting and classifying), the Dunes (rhyming, memory, matching  --including a fun beach ball game), Dumpster Alley (matching, sorting, colors & shapes), and the Pier (sound patterns, rhythm).
     There is a clever plot which keeps children engaged: A popular magazine is looking for a special community of dogs to feature in their next issue, so Clifford, T-Bone and Cleo travel around Birdwell Island helping neighbors so they can make a big impression. After each skill-building activity is completed, a snapshot is earned and placed in the photo album. When all pictures are earned, there is a musical celebration at the pier.
     Kids will love Clifford and his friends!

Vocabulary Puzzles--Grade 1
(School Zone)

     Vocabulary Puzzles is a colorful, upbeat  "electronic workbook" which provides children with innumerable practice drills and puzzles to sharpen skills in language arts. Each exercise is accompanied by explicit oral instructions.
     The program challenges children to recognize, pronounce and spell words, as well as type, read and comprehend the meaning of words and sentences, including short and long vowels, parts of speech, singular and plural, compound and rhyming words, antonyms and letter sounds. The "instant grading" feature is a plus--children immediately get stars or green pencils for correct answers, and red pencils for incorrect ones (and they are later encouraged to seek the correct answers to earn all green pencils).
     This is a fun program that offers children hours of learning activities.

Mia's Reading Adventure: The Search for
Grandma's Remedy
(Ages 5-9--Kutoka)
     Mia's Reading Adventure is chock-full of brainteasers for the child who loves to explore and experience the thrill of discovery. The excellent graphical interface makes Mia a very believable character who accompanies the user through the problem-solving adventure to find "sparklies" to buy ingredients for Grandma's remedy. The child shows Mia where to go by pointing and clicking the mouse. Arrow keys make Mia use her skateboard. Clicking on Mia's head elicits prompts for what to do next; or click on things to save them in Mia's backpack.
    The nine learning activities focus on increasing phonological awareness, and boosting skills in reading comprehension, spelling, rhyming, sight vocabulary, sentence structure and more. Four levels of play make this a versatile program for families with kids of varying ages.

[The 3 programs above won awards in this year's BESSIE Awards]


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