Most children are facinated by and love computer video games, and JumpStart's new online educational product Jumpstart.com for kids ages 3-10 delivers high interest 3D virtual world gaming that is exciting to children. Within the JumpStart world they can engage in adventure based learning as their very own customized avatar, called Jumpeez. Through the exciting exploration of magical worlds they discover and unlock games, videos, and storybooks as they practice essential math and reading skills. Your child can interact, explore, and learn in a safe and secure online gaming environment. Plus with a membership, and unlike games you purchase at the store, they'll never run out of game to play, as over the next year Jumpstart.com will expand to add more features, portals, and learning games.
There is a great deal of debate over using computers and video games in education and at home. My personal view is that no matter what we do kids are attracted to and want to play them. My students without exception all loved computer class and many found computer time highly reinforcing.
Why engage in a battle you aren't going to win; why not change it so that the rules are in your favor? Jumpstart is a great resource for parents, it gives your kids access to a highly favored activity, it's educational, and safe. They're happy to be getting play time. You know they're practicing learning skills they need and aren't playing anything violent or too adult too early.
My students used to earn computer time in my classroom and when I taught students with emotional impairments several would ONLY work for computer time. They were very clear that's what they wanted, so we set up a rewards system. It was a win win. If they did their required work and maintained appropriate behaviors, they got to end the day doing their favorite activity.My daughter will be three next month, so she is on the young side to be using Jumpstart.com. She does not yet understand the connection between using the mouse and clicking on things. That being said, she still really enjoyed Jumpstart.com! She sees us on the computer and is always wanting to use it too. It was great to finally have an activity we can do together and nice to know that I didn't have to worry about whether something inappropriate would suddenly pop up. I used the mouse most of time or helped her use it; a lot of great discussion was had while we played. We spent most of our time in Storyland, which is geared toward 3-5 year olds.
In Depth Review of Storyland Play in The Neighborhood:
This is the first stop in the places to visit in Storyland. It took us over a week to complete it because my daughter can only play for a short periods at a time. I had a four year old neighbor play it and she went through it within a day and would've played through even more if she could. The Library:
Your first stop in Storyland; where you will keep the books you earn. ER was pretty happy with the ABC book you start with and it kept her plenty entertained. I think at first she thought that WAS the whole game! It's a good place to help your child get familiarized with using a mouse. There is a page for each letter; along the leftside are several objects that begin with that letter. You can click on each "sticker" and decorate each page with them. As you release the mouse the game tells you the name of that object. I think ER covered the Ee page with elephants. Click on the book icon to hear a sentence using E words and the musical note icon to hear a short song.
At first you only have access to a short musical video, you earn more as you play. This was my least favorite stop in Storyland because it wasn't interactive and too much like watching television. After we moved onto the town more videos did appear in the movie house. She responded best to the live action one in which Frankie the dog sang songs with some children. She was content, but I'll admit it bothered me that the music wasn't quite matched up to the singing lips of the kids.
The Dressing Tent:
Here you will find a lot more choices to customize the look of your Jumpeez than in the Jumpeez Builder where you start off by making your avatar. ER immediately had to change her hair do to a pink bob and giggled over changing her head into the cat option. As you earn coins you can purchase more options at JS Threadz but for now the dressing tent gave ER more than enough to consider. The Picture Board:
You can display pictures you've made in the art house or taken with your camera. We had a lot of fun choosing a picture to color in and it was a great activity to reinforce color names. You'll need to be there to prompt your child to say them as each color is chosen to color in the picture, as the game doesn't tell you the color names. The best part is using the various paint tools like the air brush or paint buckets that fill in spaces with different textures or filling them in with patterns. You can also add "stickers" to your picture that include letters, numbers, shapes, and simple icons. There is even an option to upload your photos to the picture and sign it with a premade signature. Since you can post your own creations on the billboards, it's a fun way to customize the way your JumpStart World.
A neat customizable stop in Storyland, where you essentially "build" the house to your specifications. The choices for the roof were especially fun, we tried out the kitty head, Spanish architecture style, and tropical leaf before setting on a candy themed one. The fences were our other favorite option to play around with. Different fences comes with different landscaping such a flowers or planters.
After finishing the house we completed the first part of our mission and earned part of our first book. When the entire cover is revealed we'll be able to read it. The letters bouncing around help guide you through the land and the order of your adventure.
After playing each game you earn a gold card and a prize. Some games you can play more than once and the gold card helps you keep track of which ones you've already completed. Prizes can be used to help decorate your JumpStart World. You place them on special squares on the ground. We thought decorating the JumpStart World by growing seeds in the pots found here and there was an ever neater option. There are many different seeds to choose from that will grow in to familiar flowers like daisies and more exotic ones like triangle flowers.
- Monkey Drop: Divided up into three levels 1-5, 6-10, and 1-10. A number is shown in the trees; then monkeys drop down holding cards with a number and a picture representation of the number on it. You find the matching one and click. I like how five monkeys dropped down and two of them would be the correct answer. Once all five monkeys have dropped down for an extra hint, you can scroll over a monkey and the narrator will tell you the number, for example two leaves.
- Matching Duckies: Basically an animated memory game reinforcing alphabet concepts in a very cute method. You see eight rubber duckies from above, click on one and it turns over and you see a letter and picture on the bottom, i.e. H and the picture of a hat. You have to find letter picture matches. As each match is made a portion of the picture below them is revealed. ER really liked how each duckie would shake it's tail when you scroll over them and how they turn around and swim off. JumpStart takes advantage of when the picture reveal to teach another lesson, ours was to wear protective gear when riding a scooter.
- Matching Ladybugs: the companion game to matching duckies only this time you match by number.
- Matching Kites: Similar to the other matching games, this time players turn over kites to find matching uppercase letters.
- Bug Catcher: I liked how this one had you gathering a set number of bugs by either color, shape, or both. This is a fun way to practice 1:1 correspondance and hand eye coordination. It is also divided into levels for difficulty.
- Present Search: A grid of animals appears, click on one, and you begin to get clues on how to search for the one hiding the present. Incorporates and reinforces directional words such as right, left, above, etc. A nice feature was how a clue was given to help children still learning the vocabulary. For example, if the next clue was above then right after the clue was said the boxes above would subtly change colors briefly.
- Bunny Fun: Reinforces letter concepts as the player clicks on the rabbit holding a card with the same letter as the letter shown at the top of the screen. Similar to Monkey Drop but with letters, the game narrator will also tell you the name of each letter as your scroll over them so it has built in hints for students still mastering a skill.
- Barnyard Fun: Similar to Bunny Fun, this time you're matching lowercase letters as cows pop up and down. I liked how one time the match wasn't shown and you had to wait for the next round of cows to show up.
- Sound Box: Unlike the other alphabet games the letter aren't divided up so you work with them all at once. The player is prompted to find a certain letter while music plays in the background. This was my least favorite game and not as interactive the others. I would have liked it better, if when an incorrect guess was made the narrator would have told you the name of the incorrect letter instead of just telling to try again.
- Treasure Chest: Putting letters of the alphabet in order is not usually a fun task, but this simple interactive game where you click and move "cards" is a nice alternative to laying out flashcards in ABC order and at the top of the treasure chest illustration there is an alphabet for the player to refer too.
- Lunchbox: One of my daughter's favorites, you pack lunchboxes and compare sizes. A small, medium, and large version of a food item shows up and you order them from shortest to tallest.
- Retell a Story: I thought this game would have players listening to a short story and then answering questions, perhaps by putting illustrations in order to show what happened first, second, last. But no, it was merely a story book that you click to turn the pages of. I thought this one should be renamed.
- Connect the Stars: Essentially an animated connect the dots by number, this one was a big hit with my daughter and works on number order and counting.
- Balloon Sorting: Another one popular with my daughter, hot air balloons float at the top and depending on which game you play you get little clouds with objects you have to sort into the correct balloon. We sorted by color, shape, and animal vs ocean life.
- Puzzle Surprise: A virtual puzzle to put together that reveals a letter card. You place puzzle pieces on top of a watermark like puzzle so the player can either complete a puzzle using traditional puzzle clues or by matching. When it's done the narrator tells you the name of the letter shown, makes the letter sound, and says each of the objects on the card.
- Critter Creator: Practices 1:1 correspondance as you get critters ready for the big show by making sure each is dressed correctly. A fun game and different from any of the others.
- General Notes About Learning Games: Very appropriate for preschool and kindergarten, these games review key concepts and present material in several different and interactive ways. Most of the educational gaming in the Neighborhood part of Storybook land was in the Learning House. I did like how in the next stop The Town some of the building had learning games like counting with 1:1 correspondence at the grocery store and color patterns in the musical caves. I liked how the gaming was more incorporated into the stops along the adventure in the Town.
Some of the prizes we won for completing games were music CDs that you can then go out and play. ER enjoyed bouncing around the computer chair for short time while these played but they didn't keep her interest for very long.
Game Play Notes:
Manuevering around JumpStart World is simple and most actions and instinctive with a little computer experience. You aim the arrow to where you want to go, click, and then your Jumpeez runs there. The map helps you move around even quicker. You simply pull the map, click on a location, and you're there. Our favorite way to move about was via the bouncing pads sprinkled throughout the various worlds. Step on one and your Jumpeez goes flying high up into the air. This always ellicted giggles.
When in doubt, you can always refer back to your guide throughout the Jumpstart World, Frankie the dog. Other characters can be found here and there; they will also help guide you and explain what you do at each stop.
When we finished going through all of the stops in our adventure we earned the new book My First Day of School for our library. Unlike the alphabet book it was not interactive other than clicking to turn the page and it didn't really hold my daughter's attention. The illustrations were black line drawings, which seemed odd to me because the rest of the JumpStart world is so vibrant.
Over all I liked Storybook Land; my daughter really liked it a lot. Even though she is not ready to play independently it was a fun introductory activity to do with her. I felt the program is best suited for four year olds and up, if you're expecting independent play.
I was most interested in the Learning House because it's where most of the educational content was and liked the variety of games and concepts covered, which were all appropriate for preschoolers and for reinforcing concepts in kindergarten.
What I did not like was that in order to get a new piece of your book revealed you had to go to the different parts of the Storybook Land in order and visit each character, who would then explain the next area. We liked just exploring on our own and didn't do things in order so we had to go back to some to get our book. That was fine because at almost three mine likes repetition and doing things over and over but I'd have liked the option to explore at your own pace and order.
As you can see from the length of my description of just one section of one land in JumpStart World, JumpStart.com will provide hours of educational play for your child! Want to try it for yourself? Many features and games on JumpStart.com are free! Try it today!
Jumpstart.com Membership Giveaway
Win a 3 Month Membership to Jumpstart and have access to all of Jumpstart.com's features! Be able to play in any 3D virtual world at any time! Memberships are $7.99 a month, win it!
Go to Jumpstart and tell me what destination in the Jumpstart World you'd like to visit the most and why.
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Disclaimer: Thank you to Jumpstart for providing the products for this review and giveaway. This review relates my personal opinions and experience with Jumpstart.com; yours may differ. No effort was made by Jumpstart to influence my opinions.