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There are many educational fields in which computer games supersede colorful children's books, but spelling and learning simple connections between words are not among them.

By
May 10, 2007 10:17
3 minute read.
arthur disk88

arthur disk88. (photo credit: )

Arthur: Kesharim Hachamim (Smart Connections), a CD-ROM in Hebrew by Pecan Games, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows 98 and a Pentium III PC or better, for ages four to six, NIS 80 Rating: ** 1/2 Arthur: Kesharim Hachamim (Smart Connections), a CD-ROM in Hebrew by Pecan Games, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows 98 and a Pentium III PC or better, for ages four to six, NIS 80 Rating: ** 1/2 Arthur: Mehabrim Milim (Connecting Words), a CD-ROM in Hebrew by Pecan Games, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows 98 and a Pentium III PC or better, for first and second graders, NIS 80 Rating: ** There are many educational fields in which computer games supersede colorful children's books - preferably read together by parents and kids - but spelling and learning simple connections between words are not among them. At least that's the impression I get from these old-fashioned, outdated two-dimensional games (I reviewed two others in the series of seven games a few months ago) based on an anthropomorphic aardvark. The star of the didactic, Pecan Games' series - the hero of the children's book series written and illustrated by Marc Brown and of the Children's Channel series - has small, standup ears, wears glasses and lives in the fictional town of Elwood City. Neither of the games breaks any new ground, but Smart Connections is a very little bit more interesting (or a little less boring) than Connecting Words. In one of the half-dozen activities, a Tetris-style activity sends pictures floating downward with a parachute to a series of ever-changing drawings on the bottom of the screen depicting a doctor, diver, cook, astronaut and carpenter, for example. When you see a falling object related to a specific profession, such as a snorkel for the diver, you position it on top of the professional by using the arrow keys. If none of the pictures is suitable, position it to fall into a trash can. In another activity, three illustrated cards are presented in illogical order, such as a green sprout pushing its way through the earth and evolving into a flower. The child has to drag the cards and place them in the proper order. When successful, the process turns into a very short animation. A caterpillar turning into into a butterfly, a match lighting a candle and a kid going down a slide in the park are fine. But one segment showing a child washing his hands, putting a chocolate dessert into his mouth and getting his shirt dirty could be very confusing. A religious child would put handwashing first, before eating, while a secular child would put the washing at the end, which is what the game developers obviously intended. Opposites such as high and low, empty and full and light and heavy have to be matched up from among a series of cards. In the final activity, the child has to "pilot" a plane among airborne barriers and make sure he hits objects related to a given theme while avoiding the others. The Connecting Words game is even more pedestrian, and it certainly would be no challenge for most first- and second-grade children who probably began to learn the alphabet in kindergarten or at home. In one activity, an undersea diver is helped to shoot letters to spell out given words. Children are asked to drag pictures of letters to appear in the proper order. No given word is longer than four letters. The same Tetris-type game that appears in Smart Connections is used in this game, with letters instead of pictures floating down. The player must position the right letters in the right places in four-letter Hebrew words for "screwdriver," "balloon" or "hat." Each of the disks offer 10 worksheets, based on the game activities, which can be usefully printed out and colored in or played. While positive reinforcement for achievement is known to be beneficial to children, the Arthur disks exaggerate, calling the child a "genius" or "outstanding" almost every time he or she gets a correct answer. But even a small child will be annoyed by this fulsome praise. Turn off the computer, buy a good children's book and sit your kid on your lap with it instead.


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