NAPPA 2005: Software for Elementary Students and Up
By Janice Stickley-White

Nappa Gold Winners
This year's Gold Award-winning software titles for children are distinguished by their depth, longevity of play, originality, visual impact, ease of installation and value for the price.

Gold Award Winners

Core fx Three Level, Core Learning Ltd., 2005, $54.95; WIN 98 and up;; for ages 6 and up. Core fx is a blast. Turn your computer screen into a painting canvas with colorful pencils, paints, spirographics, click art, textures and animations. Small children can scribble, paint and erase endlessly, while teens can scan in, embellish, animate and re-invent their art. Players stay riveted to the screen as one cool option leads to the next. Art may be free-form or computer generated - using pattern and tiling effects, shape constructions and stamps. Kids can also experiment with realistic mediums that include crayon, charcoal, oil, chalk, felt pen, acrylic paint, watercolor and airbrush.

Eco-Rangers: Animal Kingdom DVD Game, Snap TV Games, 2005, $24.99; DVD player;; for ages 6 to 10. A good bang for your buck, this versatile program can be played with one or multiple gamers on any DVD player. Combining cartoon-style graphics with legitimate documentary-style visuals, the game's five missions span the Arctic to the Pacific Seas in a mix of nature images blended with classroom-style test questions presented by space-age rangers. Throw this game in the car for a long trip or play at home with the family.

Jam Trax, Sony Media Software, 2005, $19.95; WIN 98SE, 2000/XP;; for ages 10 and up. A steal for the price, this sophisticated composing program allows budding composers to create, record, play and e-mail original music from a switchboard screen that is visually easy to comprehend. Add a microphone for vocals and select a range of instruments - from electric bass to strumming guitar - to create a full band or even a full symphonic sound track. For younger musicians, Sony's Music Looper offers the same concept for ages 6 to 9. In both programs, existing songs can be modified or embellished to expedite the learning process and produce music that sounds superb.

2 Animate!, 2SimpleUSA Inc., 2004, $32.95; WIN 98/98SE, 2000/ XP;; for ages 6 to 15. Future animators can create cartoons in this classroom-like instruction by capturing, scanning or creating an image they then turn into a moving picture. Very young kids like playing this game with a parent; teens go wild on their own. Also from 2Simple are its Early Learning Toolkit, in which players paint, publish, count, plot graphs and build databases; and a Music Toolkit, which explores pitch, melody, rhythmic patterns, harmony and music composition. This bright company has solid, intelligent software that's worthy of attention.

Honor Award Winners

Lil Bratz Luscious Lil' Laptop, MGA Entertainment; 2004; $49.99; stand-alone unit;; for ages 5 to 10. This adorable mock laptop runs a series of simple programs on a flip-up screen. It's a "go-anywhere" toy, allowing youngsters to role play adults at work and to play easy learning games that include music, voice and an easy-to-type keyboard.

Zoo Tycoon 2
, Microsoft; 2004; $39.99; WIN 98 and Up;; for ages 10 and up. This zoolander adventure allows players to build (Sims-style) a zoo from the ground up and add vegetation, animals, zookeepers, patrons and action. With a good graphics card, this program is an amazing virtual experience.

Return to NAPPA 2005 Award Winners: Software to see winning programs for other age groups