I left this morning at around 10:30am. The Cat was playing Jump Start World: First Grade.
I returned home around 3:15pm. The Cat was playing Jump Start World: First Grade.
Sure, I know there was some time in there where he and Husband ran a couple errands and got lunch, but the time he was home he was glued to the computer, earning "gems."
Reward for good work is a huge motivator for the Cat. Jump Start World's gem reward system has gotten the Cat very excited about mastering levels and clearing units. We received Jump Start World: First Grade through the Parent Bloggers Network.
The Cat has tried some educational video games before, but they haven't been nearly as sophisticated.
The Cat enjoys "regular" video games and social sites like Club Penguin and when he was younger I picked up some of those educational disks at Best Buy or Fry's, but while he enjoys the purely-adventurous nature of Club Penguin, he never got into the educational stuff.
Conversely, he is very excited about Jump Start World. It is an interactive world, like some of those social games, but then rather than playing a simple game of tic-tac-toe, the ability to place an "X" or "O" hinges upon the user answering a question correctly. Viola - Educational! There are versions of "Frogger," "Tetris," and "Connect Four" (but as "Five in a Row,") all tied to educational concepts.
Initially, I was a bit concerned that the quizzes were too simple for the Cat. Identifying an "uppercase M," for example, is rather simple for a first grader; however, these simple tasks meant that he got the hang of the hand-eye coordination of the game, so when the concepts (hopefully) become more complex, he won't be tripped up by the way the game is played and can focus on the educational concept. Similarly, there was a number identification game that asked for "above 5" but then nearly all the numbers were greater than 5. It was very difficult to make a mistake!
Still, there were some concepts that were surprisingly tricky for the Cat, despite my assumption that it was too easy yet. First, issues of categorization sometimes confused him: instructed to "click on all the colors," no problem! But "click on transportation," and he cried, worrying what that was until I explained, "vehicles: ways of getting places." During a rather simple reading comprehension, the Cat easily answered all the "facts" about the story: "What sentence wasn't in the story?" and "What did the broom turn into?" but he froze when asked, "How did the character feel...?" until he thought it out a bit.
And so, even if the program isn't quizzing him on advanced mathematics or having him read stories on his own, it seems that there are some other educational concepts that the Cat will need to work on, such as social skills, and will enjoy doing so given this interactive universe and reward system.
As the Cat continues earning "gems," he can turn them in online for rewards. I can check his progress in the parental section. As the Cat requires new material, new "adventure packs" will be downloaded, at least one per month, up to twelve for each grade.
The one trick that both the Cat and I had difficulty with was whenever a letter sound was needed to complete the game. For example, "What letter sounds like...?" questions stumped us both because while the speaker sounded like "V," it was really "F" and so forth. I am not sure whether this is a function of my computer's speaker quality, the game's pronunciation, or the Cat and my hearing!
Aside from this glitch, I foresee the Cat spending a lot of time maneuvering his little cat character through the Jump Start World universe.
Jump Start World's website has a free trial for download. To purchase the system is only $19.95 (for Kindergarten, First Grade, or Second Grade.)