Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jumpstart Madagascar Review and Giveaway

We were recently given the opportunity to try out Jumpstart.com's newest world, based on Dreamworks' Madagascar.  There might have been some squealing involved when we first received the offer.  We used Jumpstart.com last year for many months, and when we stopped our subscription, we had a very disappointed little boy on our hands.  He has been thrilled to start playing there again.
"JumpStart®, an award-winning brand from Knowledge Adventure®, has set the standard in kids’ educational software for over 15 years. Today, the JumpStart experience is more engaging, interactive, and fun than ever! In 2009, we introduced JumpStart.com, an online adventure where 3 to 10-year-old kids master the skills needed to succeed in school and in life, through exploration, discovery, and learning. By blending interactive adventures and award-winning learning games into a safe, customizable online world, JumpStart inspires minds and JumpStarts self-confidence… the fun way."
The neatest thing about Jumpstart, and the reason that I am late in writing this review, is that it is full of different activities for many age levels and interest areas.  The volume of activities on the site is really impressive.  In the past, I have sometimes found the world a bit confusing to navigate.  After the preschool-appropriate "Storyland," in which children are guided around on tasks by fun characters, the rest of Jumpstart can feel a bit dizzying.  That, though, is also what keeps our boy's interest so raptly, and what makes him keep taking on a renewed interest in new areas (which continually update to reflect the season, upcoming holidays, etc.). 

The first time the Infant Bibliphile tried out Jumpstart,  he focused mainly on Storyland and Marineland.  He was three years old then, and I played alongside him.  It made it much easier to review.  Now that he is 5, and VERY independent on the computer, it is a little more difficult for me to write a detailed review.  Because, let's face it, I'm usually cooking dinner or checking email while he is playing it.  But, I can say that he has enjoyed the game for many hours since we signed up, and will never turn down a chance to play.  I remember from our past explorations that there are many areas throughout Jumpstart focusing on mathematics and other educational concepts (grammar, for instance) through fun games.

This time around, he has been spending most of his time on the new Madgascar world, which was an instant hit.  
The new addition of Madagascar™ to the JumpStart world allows players to travel from the Central Park Zoo in New York City, all the way to Venice, Italy and through other parts of Europe. All of your kids’ favorite characters are there too! They’ll see Alex, Melman, Gloria, Marty and the Penguins!

JumpStart’s new interactive Madagascar™ area provides an engaging and interactive way to explore fun facts about the animals and historical figures from European landmarks. There is even a new game that allows your children to morph fellow players into their favorite zoo animals along with many other exciting and educational games to play along the way.
He immediately started running around through the Madagascar area like he owned the place, and particularly took to a game called "Hide and Seek with Mort," in which he tries to find Mort based on clues given to him.  ("I like hide and seek with mort, but it does make me use my brain.").

Other favorite Jumpstart areas of his:
--The "charms" building in Windy Hollows - get ingredients and mix your magical potions
--Storyland - fun loveable animals guide you through preschool-appropriate tasks, including learning games on topics like colors, matching, number recognition, etc.
--Ridez - choose your wheels, from simple skateboards to much fancier rides
--Broomball (a quidditch-like game)

We have experienced a few minor issues.  The game was extremely laggy/choppy at first, but we switched browsers, and it runs beautifully on firefox.  If there are large crowds of users, it can feel awkward to run around a section.  And sometimes there are areas where the directions are unclear.  Some of this could be an age factor, since he is on the young-side for independent computer play.  We would also love to be able to replay the whole sequence of character-led activities in Storyland, something which I don't think the site allows, or to have more character-led paths on the upper levels.  On the whole, though, we are big fans of Jumpstart!

And, hey, look at this!  Jumpstart just added a free worksheets and printables section to their website!  "Free worksheets include grade based worksheets starting with Preschool Worksheets and Kindergarten Worksheets all the way up to Fifth Grade Worksheets. Along with the collection of grade based worksheets, a vast number of subjects including Math Worksheets, Science Worksheets and Reading Worksheets are available for free. Parents can choose from a variety of subjects, grades and learning styles to create the perfect learning companion for kids aged 4 to 12 and help their child excel in reading, math and other important skills and subjects.  In addition to the free worksheets and printables JumpStart also has a variety of resources and activities for parents and kids including great holiday craft ideas, Thanksgiving decoration ideas for kids and plenty of Madagascar themed activities as well.  All worksheets and activities are available for free at www.jumpstart.com and are updated daily with new worksheets, activities and crafts for parents and kids.  Click here to explore all the free worksheets."

Let's hear it for "free" :)

Speaking of "free," want to win your own 3-month Jumpstart subscription?  Leave a comment!  Based on my previous give aways of computer site subscriptions, I'd say you have an excellent chance of winning...

Deadline is December 5, 2012 at Midnight.

Disclosure: We were provided a 3-month subscription to Jumpstart.com in order to write this review.