by Janice White and Charles Carr
Pull up a mouse and get ready to enter the innovative world
of this year's winning software titles. Computer software for kids just
keeps getting better all the time, and the 1999 NAPPA winners prove it.
Both entertaining and educational, these programs will boost kids' brainpower,
excite their imaginations, and carry them confidently and creatively into
the new millennium.
Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver. The premise is irresistible:
A couple of kids have gone wild completely covering their home with Hot
Wheels track. Your child gets to race all these miles of track from the
car’s point of view, in beautifully smooth 3-D. As kids progress, new
cars and courses become available, providing incentive for improvement.
Mattel; ages 4 and up; Win; $29.99. (800) 628-8623. www.mattelmedia.com/hotwheels.
Clues: Blue's 123 Time Activities.Another hit from Humongous.
Children learn how to weigh and measure by comparing souvenirs at a fair;
explore number relationships by playing "Mother May I"; hone
addition and subtraction skills by calculating the correct number of supplies
needed to construct a train for the fair; and discover patterns and shapes
by joining the Pattern Parade. Humongous Entertainment; ages 3 to 6;
$19.99; Win and Mac. (800) 499-8386. www.humongous.com.
Things: All Around Frippletown. Hundreds of problem-solving puzzles
and activities will help your child develop essential thinking, logic
and reasoning skills. What makes "Frippletown" special is that
it’s so fun and alluring, kids keep coming back to play—and that creates
an environment for real learning. Edmark; ages 4 to 8; Win and Mac;
$29.95. (800) 691-2985. www.edmark.com.
Blaster First Grade. "Reading Blaster" uses 10 learning
activities at five difficulty levels that guide your youngster through
more than 1,500 vocabulary words, and teach how to write letters, use
punctuation and capitalization, build words from sounds, and create sentences
from words and stories from sentences. Knowledge Adventure; ages 5
to 7; Win and Mac; $29.99. (800) 545-7677. www.knowledgeadventure.com.
Barbie Photo Designer Digital Camera and CD-ROM. A real
digital camera (pink, of course) and imaging software for less than $70?
Amazing. Barbie Photo Designer gives girls (boys, too!) all the tools
they need to edit and print their own snapshots. Note: This title requires
an available 9-pin serial port (usually around the back of the computer
near the printer port) to get the pictures from the camera into your computer.
Mattel; ages 6 and up; Win; $69.95. (800) 628-8623. www.mattelmedia.com/barbie.
Franklin's Instant Photo T-Shirt. Make an instantly wearable T-shirt,
bag, apron or more in three easy steps: Customize your own photo or any
of the hundreds of included art images; print the image on transfer paper;
and iron the transfer onto the item (transfer paper and a T-shirt are
included). Little kids are too young to make the projects themselves,
but they’ll enjoy helping Mom or Dad. Streetwise Software; all ages;
Win; $39.95. (800) 743-6765. www.swsoftware.com.
Ace 2. The 24 lessons in this captivating program teach kids how
to write music and understand rhythm, melody, harmony, syncopation, time
signature and all the music basics. A creative doodle pad makes composing
music a visual and auditory extravaganza. Harmonic Vision; ages 8 and
older; Win 3.1, 95, 98 and Mac; $49.95. (800) 644-4994. www.harmonicvision.com.
Home Gene-Splicing Kit. This imaginative program might inspire
the child who will one day become a special-effects technician or graphic
designer. Kids can input and manipulate images, including their own faces,
the faces of friends or even the faces of their pets. Players then plunk
the manipulated images into stories or import them to postcards and letters.
You-Betcha Interactive; ages 7 and older; Win 95, 98 and Mac; $24.95.
(800) 338-3844. www.genesplicing.com.
World Discovery Deluxe. This program takes the place of
all those flash cards you’ve made to help kids remember their continents,
countries and oceans. Twelve challenging games that test players’ wits
help them identify and remember global locations. A no-frills, no-nonsense
approach to getting the facts straight. Great Wave Software; ages 8
and older; Win 3.1, 95, 98 and Mac; $29.95. (800) 443-2976. www.greatwave.com.
Go Read! 2: An Ocean Adventure. Edmark is a top-league player
that should be recognized for consistently good products. "Let’s
Go Read" is not only visually stimulating, it also lets kids speak
to it via a microphone, to which it then responds. The easy-to-follow,
nonstressful and endearing program integrates likable creatures into the
teaching process. Edmark; ages 5 to 7; Win 3.1, 95 and 98; $29.95 (microphone
must be purchased separately). (800) 691-2985. www.edmark.com.
Action Software—Multiplication/Division. Don’t expect lots of
bells and whistles here, but if you’ve got a kid struggling to memorize
those multiplication tables, this straightforward program might be a good
option for ingraining the basics. Players can compete against a clock
or other players as they memorize their multiplication and division facts,
then print out reports to log their success. School Zone Interactive;
ages 8 and older; Win 95, 98 and Mac; $19.99. (800) 253-0564. www.schoolzone.com.
Start Spanish. This language-teaching program offers a unique
option: language recognition. Players record their voices into a microphone,
then play back their words to compare themselves with the voice of a native
speaker. The program is channeled into an easy-to-follow series of lessons,
and game-playing is included. Syracuse Language; ages 8 to adult; Win
3.1, 95 and 98; $50. (800) 797-5264. www.syrlang.com.
2000 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia-Deluxe-CD Edition. Grolier’s
encyclopedia reigns number one with schools, and number one in my home
and classroom. This two-CD set contains 59,000 articles, 15,000 images
and 1,200 maps. Plus you can link online to articles from two other Grolier
help them identi encylopedias. Grolier Interactive; ages 12 and under; Win and Mac;
$59.99. (203) 797-3530. gi.grolier.com.
Book Millennium 2000 Premier Reference Library. Also worth adding
to your library is this four-CD-ROM all-star complete reference library
brought to you by IBM—it packs a wallop for the buck. In addition to the
multimedia encyclopedia, reference tools include the Rand McNally New
Millennium World Atlas Deluxe, Merriam-Webster Reference Library, and
three Information Please almanacs. Kids can also "Surf the Millennium"
on simulated Web sites with content from different time periods. IBM;
ages 10 and older; Win; $89.95. (800) 320-8377. www.ibm.com/shop.
Click on a category below for reviews
of the 1999 NAPPA Gold Award Winners
| Honors Award
The National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) program
began in 1990 as a consumer awards program for children's media, including
books, toys, music, videos, software, and storytelling/spoken word. Expert
judges within each category review and select the best submissions to receive
help them identi recognition as either Gold or Honors Award winners. Winners are announced
annually prior to the holiday season.
Janice White, a high-school teacher, began her computer-industry experience
at U.S. Computer Systems before establishing her own company, where she
developed training, marketing and advertising products in video, film
and print for major software developers. She is also the producer of many
Charles Carr, a father of two, is an award-winning writer and software
author. He's Reviews Editor for ComputorEdge magazine, a San Diego
newspaper columnist, and an on-screen consultant to San Diego’s CBS television