My little girl grew up around computers. When she was a little baby, we'd set her in a swing between our two computers. When she was a toddler, we built her her own computer. She's watched us play with computer games, and she has had her own computer games. One thing that she's watched us play that she's never had the chance to do is play Online Role Playing Games... now she has her chance with JumpStart World.
Recommend this product?
JumpStart World Kindergarten is an educational game for Kindergarteners. It consists of 12 units; the game assumes that your child will complete about one every month. When your child completes one unit, another one will download.
I bought the whole year for $74.99. That seems like a lot of money... we're currently trying to save up another $74.99 for JumpStart World 1st grade. However, it provides a lot more entertainment than your regular stand-alone game that you might buy for $20 for your child. I've purchased several of those for my daughter, and once she plays it for a while, the challenge is over and she's done with it. With 12 units to download, the game is always changing and my daughter never gets bored. Well, not until she finished the 12th unit and there's no more challenges.
Playing the Game
In JumpStart World, your child gets to choose a character, and just like your favorite Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, your child walks around with her character and performs tasks for Frankie and his friends. Since kids often are indecisive and like a little variety, you can be a different character every time you play.
Some of the tasks that your child might be asked to do include visiting a location on the map, buying something for a friend (an NPC, there are no other children playing with your child in this game), or designing a me-shirt (a T-shirt that they design by themselves). There are plenty of places to explore, races to run, and lots of things to do.
I mentioned purchasing items in this game. Children can purchase items at a shop in JumpStart World. Instead of coins, they use gems as currency. Gems are earned by playing different educational games. You have to master all the educational games in order to earn the "Super Gem" and move to the next unit in the game. Supposedly you can program "Super Gem Rewards" that arrive in their mailbox when they get a Super Gem (things that you make up like Mommy will take you out to get Ice Cream), but I never really figured out how to make that work.
Kids can have their own pets too. Their pets can get dirty, and they have to buy soap to clean them off. They can buy treats for their pet and have them learn tricks. The items that are available to buy change as they advance in the game.
After all the tasks are completed in a unit, they earn a badge. The goal of the whole game is to get all the badges and they become the Ultimate Jump Scout.
JumpStart Really Cool Touches
One of the things that I think is great about JumpStart World is how customizable it is, and how relevant it is to their lives. You can tell JumpStart World what holidays you celebrate... if you don't celebrate Halloween or Christmas, Jumpstart World won't either. You can tell JumpStart World when their birthday is, and when they play the game in the week of their birthday, Frankie will say "happy birthday!"
There are decorations that change with the seasons as well. In the spring you will see flowers in the lawn, in November there will be turkeys running around, and there is snow in the winter. Another thing that I found to be cool is when they are playing learning games involving calendars, they will use the current calendar month.
There are fun things for your child to do as well, like slides to go down and little bouncy pads that will fly them high in the air and have them land somewhere else. Of course they don't get hurt when they land. This is a game for Kindergarteners, after all.
It took my daughter about 10 months to finish JumpStart World Kindergarten. She flew through the first 6 units or so in only a couple of months, and that got me worried. JumpStart World was having her do exercises with calendars, listening comprehension, sorting, and rhyming and I was afraid that she would finish this program way too early.
I was starting to think that I should have purchased the First Grade Program, because at the time I purchased this game, she had already finished the Kindergarten math curriculum, and was almost ready for the 1st Grade reading curriculum as well (since I homeschool I choose books based on her ability). But halfway through JSK, she started getting stuck at the end of the units. There was something difficult in one of the learning games that she had to master and she couldn't figure it out until she learned more.
Thus began a love/hate relationship with JumpStart. She would get frustrated because she couldn't finish a game, pout and say "I'm never playing JumpStart World again!" I'd remind her that the games would get easier once she learned more, and sure enough, after a while passed, she'd learn whatever skill she was stuck on and then fly through the rest of the level. Sometimes the learning games would motivate her to learn certain skills in order to master the games. She learned to count by 5s long before we came across it in her curriculum because she wanted to master the level. There were some games with money that she had trouble with as well.
When your child will be able to complete JSK depends a lot on what they are teaching in their school. My daughter is using a 1st Grade textbook (Saxon) and we just started covering counting by 5s around lesson 70. They also will need to know some easy addition and subtraction, which Saxon did not cover in their Kindergarten book. If their school doesn't teach addition, subtraction, and counting by 5s in Kindergarten, you could always supplement at home, or they could wait until they learned that in first grade to move on. Personally I think that JSK is very easy in the first half and a little beyond the average Kindergartener in the second half, but I'm not sure because we are homeschooling.
JumpStart World does reinforce a lot of what they are learning in school, gives them motivation to learn, and makes school subjects fun. It doesn't teach them, but I say that it's educational value is pretty good.
There is a parade route in JumpStart World, and throughout the year there are different parades that your child can watch. When your child completes all 12 units, your child gets a graduation parade. They can do the parades over and over if they like.
JSK allows you to have two children playing. So if you have twins that's great. I do believe that you can use this game with a younger child as well. When I set the program up, I put my baby's name in it. I'm pretty sure that he'll be able to use it when he gets old enough.
JumpStart sends emails to the parents when their child completes a lesson, and sends out monthly letters suggesting games and other things to do with your child to reinforce their skill. You can check their progress in the game, but you have to go to the computer that JSK is installed on to find out. It will tell you how well they are doing in each of the skills that are being covered.
JumpStart World was well worth the money for us. It's a lot of money, but my child got a lot of play value out of it. I will be buying JumpStart World 1st Grade once we come up with the money. Despite my daughter getting frustrated when she couldn't complete the learning games to get the unit's Super Gem, it's been her favorite game over the last 10 months... 10 months is an eternity for my 5 year old to stay interested in a computer game.
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