Posts Tagged ‘kids review and giveaway’

Review: Jumpstart Escape from Adventure Island Wii Game

PhotobucketNot that long ago our family had a chance to review JumpStart’s 3D World, an online learning environment, as well as JumpStart Pet Rescue Wii game.

We’re big fans of JumpStart so the kids were tickled pink when given the chance to review Knowledge Adventure‘s newest Wii game: Escape from Adventure Island.

PhotobucketGame Synopsis

During an emergency landing on Adventure Island the blimp you and Frankie were traveling in gets damaged. Now you’re on a mission to collect sand dollars, which you’ll trade in for helium tanks to fix your blimp. Complete challenges to earn either white or gold sand dollars.

Story and Practice Modes

The game is played in Story Mode, where you help Frankie complete various challenges, like letter recognition, math problems or just following instructions, and earn a sand dollar. There are various levels to each challenge making it easily adaptable to your child’s skill level now and as they improve. You can practice some of the skills you will need to complete the challenges with educational games in Practice Mode.

On Land or in Water

JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island has two main areas: the Island Hub, where kids play and learn above the water or the Scuba Hub where your jumpee is dressed in scuba gear and you can explore and play under water. Both of my kids loved the Scuba Hub in this game; this environment wasn’t something offered in the JumpStart Pet Rescue game. My son spent most of his time underwater. My son wanted to get right into the game; he didn’t even adjust or customize the default jumpee character.

My daughter missed the fact that there weren’t worlds to explore (in JumpStart Pet Rescue there were more locations to jump to). She also missed the pet adoption aspect. But I think it’s great that the two games are different; you would play them for a different experience.

Improved Use of the Wii-mote

I remember one of my disappointments with the JumpStart’s Pet Rescue game was the lack of intuitive use with the Wii-mote. Well that isn’t an issue with JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island. Watching the kids play, they turn and twist and point the Wii-mote; they seem more involved in the game.

But What do the Kids Think

Rated E for Everyone

The JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island game for the Wii has been rated Everyone (E) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board which means ‘it has content suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.‘ The game play seemed pretty similar to the JumpStart Pet Rescue which received an Early Childhood (EC) rating.

In Stores

JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island for the Wii (recommended for ages 5 to 9) will be available in major retailers starting November 17, 2009 for $29.99US

Time to Escape and WIN

Knowledge Adventure, the creatures of the JumpStart games is running an amazing contest. Visit their blog and tell them how your family uses imagination to escape the everyday and turn life into and adventure. Your story could win one (1) of fifty (50) copies of JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island or maybe even one (1) of the three (3) Grand Prize Family Escape Packs (valued at over $1000). Contest closes November 16 so be quick.

* a review copy of JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island was provided by Knowledge Adventure

Review: PenPal Notes (and giveaway)

The love of books and the love of reading is big in our house. I think that’s one reason I love doing my weekly Write a Review Wednesday post. I love discovering and sharing new books with my kids. And now that my oldest daughter has discovered the joy of reading on her own, I love to find ways to expand on her love. Books is a given but then I stumbled upon a new product called PenPal Notes.

You’re probably familiar with the idea of pen pals. I know when I was in school we had a pen pal program with kids from different countries. I still have some of those letters, including a letter from Iran which caused a big stir with CSIS (also know as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), but that’s another post. The point is I loved having pen pals.

Lunchtime pen pals

The idea behind PenPal Notes is a combination of lunch time notes and letters from friends. Instead of writing notes in your child’s lunch why not include a postcard from Tej, a panda who goes on adventures. There are seven different series, from dinosaurs to proverbs to world food, and each series includes 20 or 40 illustrated postcards and sticker stamps. The front of the post card is a message to your child based on whatever series you have. On the back there’s space for you to write your own personal note to your child.

My daughter is a foodaholic. She loves food, from everywhere. The folks at PenPal Notes were kind enough to send the Traveling Taste Buds set for us to review. My daughter loves, loves, LOVES food so these cards were ideal for her. The Traveling Taste Buds series has Tej visiting seven different countries. The first postcard from each country gives a little information on the country and subsequent postcards talk about a specific food from the country.

My daughter loves these cards. She shows them to her friends and keeps all of them to reference later. She loves the idea of getting these notes and discovering new foods. Sometimes I’ve been able to tie food choices to the postcards too. When she was visiting France one card talked about croissants and I included one for her snack. She thought that was the best. One day I forgot to include a postcard (we agreed that Monday, Tuesday and Thursday would be postcard days) and I heard about it all that night. From that moment on my daughter reminds me the night before to include a postcard in her lunch.

I love the postcards. They’re easy to read. I have learned different types of food and I absolutely love food. I liked the messages that my mom wrote on the back too. I share the notes with my class. My teacher things they are neat. I still have all my postcards. I like to go back and read them again. I only get them on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I’d love to get them every day. I get really excited on a postcard day. I usually remind my mom to put one in my lunch.

I love how the PenPal Notes get my daughter excited about reading and learning. It shows that reading is more than just for books. Plus she now has developed an interest in starting some real pen pals (she even created a mock postcard and sent it to me).

PenPal Notes for you

The amazing folks at PenPal Notes wants to get your child excited about reading too. They’re offering one set of postcards (winners choice) absolutely FREE. Isn’t that great! Checkout the sets they have available. So if you’re in Canada or the United States all you need to do is comment below and tell me if you have ever sent notes to your child or received lunch time notes as a child yourself. I’ll receive entries until midnight (EST), Sunday October 25, 2009 at which time I will randomly draw a name. Good luck!

Update: We have a winner. Random.org has selected and the winner has been emailed. Thanks for your interest.

Chicken, Pig, Cow want to go to your house (giveaway)

I’ve been very fortunate to have reviewed a number of great books for kids as part of my weekly Write a Review Wednesday post. But today isn’t about me, it’s about you or rather what I can give to you.

Recently I wrote a review on Ruth Ohi‘s wonderful picture book Chicken, Pig, Cow as well as her follow-up book Chicken, Pig, Cow On The Move, equally as wonderful. If you ever get a chance to hear Ruth Ohi read, you should. My oldest daughter and I had a chance to meet her recently at the Word on the Street festival. She is so energetic and enthusiastic and really talks to and involves her young readers in her presentation. It was so much fun (and I learned a thing or two as well).

So how is this post about you? In addition to the copies of both Ruth Ohi’s books for my reviews, my friend Joanna from Annick Press sent along two additional copies. That’s right, I have an additional copy of Chicken, Pig, Cow and Chicken, Pig, Cow On The Move. I know, pretty awesome!

So I’m offering both of these books together to you my blog readers, book lovers. And since my birthday is today, I’m feeling really generous and I will send these to anyone in Canada or the United States. If you would love to add both of these books to your personal library, leave a comment below telling me one of your favourite kids books (I’m always looking for new book suggestions). Don’t forget to leave your email address so I have a way of contacting you. I will accept entries until Monday, October 12, 2009 (midnight EST) at which time I will randomly pick a name. Good Luck!

Update: We have a winner. Random.org has picked a winner and they have been notified. Thanks for your interest.

Review: JumpStart Pet Rescue on the Wii

LogoWe were all very excited when the JumpStart Pet Rescuegame for the Wii arrived at our door not too long ago. See our family is big on using technology to enhance learning (and we’re big gaming fans too). Knowledge Adventure produces some of the best educational software we’ve come across. We’ve used their JumpStart learning software in the past and more recently we’ve been exploring the JumpStart 3D Virtual World, Knowledge Adventure’snew secure online environment for kids. I wrote a review on our experience with theJumpStart 3D Virtual World if you want to learn more.

Educational fun on the Wii

But now Knowledge Adventure has taken the next step. They’ve combined their understanding and knowledge of children’s educational software with the fun interactivity of the Wii gaming system.

JumpStart version of the Mii

The Wii game, JumpStart Pet Rescue, is modeled after Adventure Land in the JumpStart 3D Virtual World. Kids can customize their own jumpee, JumpStart’s version of a Mii, which represents the child throughout the game. And this character can be designed and changed and redesigned countless times, depending on the mood of your child. My oldest daughter (7) enjoyed this aspect of the game almost as much as the game itself. And there are three player slots so you can create three separate jumpees and games or in my case, each of my three kids has their own. This enables each child to progress through the game at their own pace, picking up where they left off the last time (though only one person can play at a time).

There are two ways you can experience the game:

Story Mode

My five year old son loves playing in Story Mode which works great for him since he’s very task oriented. Story Mode is set-up like a mission, which completely peaked my son’s interest. All the pet’s in JumpStart land have run away and my son needed to help find them. My son was told if he found all the sections of a story and then read it, one of the missing pets would return. And to find the missing story sections, he needed to complete some tasks. And so my son’s mission began.

JumpStart knows how to make learning not seem like learning. The tasks are a combination of fun experiences and learning games. In some cases my son just needed to follow a trail of letters from point A to B and other times he was asked to complete a game like matching or placing items in the correct order. Throughout the JumpStart world there are friendly creatures to greet, provide help and encouragement. When my son collected all the pages in one of his stories he was able to read it (or in his case, have it read to him) in the library. And to his great surprise and excitement one of the friends returned.

Explore Mode

My seven year old daughter enjoyed explore mode. She still needed to find the missing animals, but unlike Story Mode, she was given free reign to explore all the environments in the JumpStartworld (in Story Mode, each world becomes available as a level is completed). My daughter enjoyed discovering hidden slides and games. But her favourite part was adopting a pet for her Jumpee. She would spend time playing with her new pet, teaching it tricks, feeding it and washing it. Even when my son was playing in Story Mode, he could still wander around and explore on his own (his favourite being the slides, which he would get his Jumpee to ride on over and over again).

As a task is completed, whether in story mode or explore mode, kids are awarded with praise as well as virtual prizes. Items like music can be played in the jukebox and letter objects can be used to decorate the JumpStart world.

Playing with the Wii-mote

My kids are pretty familiar with playing games on the Wii(I did say we are a gaming family didn’t I) therefore it didn’t take them long to get the feel of how to use the Wii-mote. The cursor on screen is nice and big, making it easier to see and move for young kids. There were some odd navigation placements where the large cursor caused a few problems (like when selecting a shampoo from the Pet Parlor, the arrows at the bottom of the shampoo menu were pretty close to the ‘Exit’ button. A few times the kids ended up exiting the screen when they were trying to select the next shampoo page). The game didn’t use the Wii-mote interactivity I like from other games. I sort of expected to be able to shake the remote around to put shampoo on the pet, but instead had to hit the ‘A’ button each time to get shampoo out. This didn’t take away from the game, but I don’t think it used the Wii to it’s full potential.

If your child hasn’t played with a Wiibefore, it does take some getting use to, especially how to point the Wii-mote at the sensor bar so it registers on the screen. My two older kids (5 & 7) were pros, but my youngest (2) had a lot of difficulty. I think this skill comes with practice.

A Wii game designed for the younger set

I mentioned earlier we’re big gaming fans, but most of the games we’ve encountered have been for older kids, either due to content or playability. The JumpStart Pet Rescue game for the Wii has been rated Early Childhood (EC) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board which means ‘it contains no material parents would find inappropriate’. Want more information on the rating system? And all three of my kids love this game (even my two year old who plays with her big sister’s help). This is the first game my kids ask to play when given the chance. My son said ‘I love this game almost as much as my Star Wars Lego Wii. And for a learning game I think that says a lot.

What the kids have to say

Coming soon

The JumpStart Pet RescueWiigame will in stores in September, just in time for back to school learning. You’ll be able to pick it up at Walmart, Staples, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Fry’s and other retailers in US and Canada.

Availability:Walmart & Staples (September 1), Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Fry’s and other retailers (September 2)
Age: 3 to 6
Price: $39.99 US
Platform:Nintendo Wii

WIN WIN WIN WIN

Knowledge Adventure is running a contest and giving away twenty-five (25) copies of the JumpStart Pet Rescue Wii game (open to US residents only). All you need to do is jump over to their blog and leave a comment telling them how you convinced your child to do something that was good for them, even if they didn’t want to.

Review and Giveaway: JumpStart

logoThat was then

When I was young and going to school (elementary school I mean) the roles of parent and teacher were defined differently. Teachers were responsible for the education and preparation of kids for the working future. Parents, well they were responsible for every thing else. And the line was never crossed.

This is now

However, with the ever increasing demands on the education system and it’s teachers, plus the increased expectations for our kids, many parents now take a more active role in their children’s education. They volunteer in the classroom or on field trips. They help with homework and class projects. And they’re interested in other ways that will give their kids an advantage or JumpStart

That’s where JumpStart comes in. If you have kids under ten you’re probably familiar with the name and its association with educational computer software. But are you familiar with JumpStart 3D Virtual World, an online award-winning 3D interactive educational environment for kids? Our family had the opportunity to play around in this virtual world.


Visit the JumpStart 3D Channel on YouTube for more videos.

Personalized Fun

JumpStart is personalized for each child and this personalization starts right at the beginning with the creation of their own jumpee. The jumpee represents your child as s/he explores the 3D world. There are numerous configurations you child can choose to customize their jumpee, including hair, eyes, and even clothing. And you kids can change their jumpee at any time during their adventure. Now worries if you have more than one child playing in JumpStart; each child can set-up their own jumpee.  My little testers enjoyed this aspect of JumpStart almost as much as the games themselves, especially my seven year old daughter. She loved changing clothes and hair colour at the start of each adventure.

Welcome to the JumpStart Virtual World

Once your child’s jumpee is created, they’re ready to start their adventure. When they enter the JumpStart 3D World they will be greeted by a guide who will give them direction and guidance throughout their adventure. Your child’s jumpee is then able to walk around the environment, enter buildings and talk to JumpStart characters with the simple use of  their mouse or keyboard arrow keys (note: talking with JumpStart characters is not a chat but rather the character speaking pre-scripted dialog as a why of guiding the kids through the virtual world). Kids can also move around the environment by accessing the map icon at the bottom of the screen. This will enable them to move their jumpee right into a specific area of the 3D world they want to explore. And here’s what is waiting for them:

mapVisit the Newsland to find out the latest additions to the JumpStart world, like new game levels or portals to new adventures. The Arcade contains various games to help improve mouse and keyboard skills. There’s something for everyone in there. Checkout the jumpees with the daily, weekly or monthly high scores in the Hall of Fame. In Adventure Land kids train for the ultimate online adventure. Through a combination of game play and exciting learning activities, kids improve their math and reading skills while earning rewards. The coins they earn as their reward for completing levels enables them to buy more items for their jumpee. While visiting Story Land, kids are encouraged to explore and meet the online characters. With each encounter they will receive a new piece of a story. Once all the pieces are complete, they can visit the library to read it or have it read to them. They’ll also discover art and music and other interactive activities to keep them entertained for awhile. Plus other areas like the Movie House, Buggy Racer and Ghost Town Grab to entertain and challenge kids. And there’s room to expand new portals and add new game levels.

Designed with Kids in Mind

The village is colourful with a cartoon fun feel. The navigation buttons and mouse cursor are large making them easy to use, even for a novice computer player. The JumpStart online characters act as friendly guides, helping the kids through sections of the village. The gaming instructions are either audio or in picture form so no reading skills are required. And the handy help button enables the kids to hear or view instructions again and again if they need to. But what do the actual kids think?

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up!

7 Year Old Tester My favourite part was the pet adoption center in Story Land. I played a lot of the games, even the math and reading games were fun. It took me a while to figure out how to earn money in the game. Now I play those games all the time. I can’t wait until I have enough money to buy my jumpee some new clothes. I really like letting my jumpee walk around the town. You can talk to the other characters, find hidden suprises. There’s even these trampolines that you can bounce on to get around the town. This is as much fun as being on Webkinz.

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up!

4 Year Old Tester I like that it feels like a real world. It’s not just a game. I like Adventure Land best. There are lots of secret paths and the slide and hand glider are so cool. I like using the map so I can get to my games fast. It’s quicker than walking my jumpee around. The Speed Drome is cool because you can race cars. It’s a little tricky but I’m getting better.

Added Benefits

Downloadable Games – as a member you get exclusive access to interactive games you can download and play directly on your computer to those times when an Internet connection isn’t handy

Parent Zone – create an online profile, meet and participate in online discussions with outher JumpStart parents and the JumpStart team. Receive email updates when changes about new and exciting changes in the JumpStart world.

JumpStart Blog – have access to the latest information from JumpStart by visiting their new online blog. Share your opinions, discouver new changes and ways to incorporate JumpStart learning into your child’s life.

Enjoy it for Yourself

We’ve been playing with JumpStart for about  a month now. I’ve never seen them having so much fun learning their letters and numbers, plus their ability to handle the mouse and keyboard has greatly improve. Because the JumpStart world is self-contained with no outside access, I feel completely comfortable letting my kids play online without me. And the overall environment’s design means the kids can enjoy the game, exploring, experiencing and learning all on their own.  Plus, since it’s an online environment, I know I’ll get instant access to any new games instantly without having to buy additional software. JumpStart will continue to grow and develop, always offering my kids something new to learn. You can visit JumpStart to sign-up for your account (the cost is $7.99 US/month)

WIN! WIN! WIN!

And the great folks at Knowledge Adventure (creators of JumpStart) are offering one of my readers access to their own JumpStart world for 3 months, absolutely free. If you’re interested just visit the JumpStart blog and come back leaving me a comment telling me about something you found and liked. YOU NEED TO DO THIS FIRST BEFORE YOU CAN QUALIFY FOR ANY EXTRA ENTRIES.

Earn an extra entry for tweeting about this review and giveaway. Make sure to copy me (@cbadov) in your tweet and be sure to come back here and leave a separate comment with your tweet status. The contest is open to everyone and closes at 11:59pm EST on Thursday, June 11 (I’ll pick a name on June 12 using random.org). Make sure to leave your email address so I have a way of contacting you.

Addendum June 12/09

We have a winner. Congratulations Mandy. I will be forwarding your email address to JumpStart. They will get in touch with you shortly. Enjoy your 3 Free Months! And thanks to everyone else who visited and left a comment. JumpStart has some great things coming so stay tuned to this blog and JumpStart’s blog.