Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12

Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12

Brooks, Susan

Reading Blaster: Ages 9-12

Publisher: Davidson &Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 2961, Torrance, CA 90504; 800/545-7677

Emphasis: Language arts; Mystery adventure Grades: 4-6

Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CDROM

Price: $57.OD including printed teacher materials. Lab packs available.

This new addition to the Blaster line brings rich stylized graphics, spooky sights and sounds, and a good range ot engaging activities to the familiar setting of Dr. Dabble’s Mansion. In this adventure, users are challenged to help the green unicorn Rave foil the devious doctor and collect clues to unravel the mystery of six missing people.

Students direct the action, as they move Rave through the foyer, parlor, dining room, kitchen, graveyard, and other colorfully rendered areas, investigating hotspots and completing activities with the help of the friendly ghost Lydia. The mystery context does a good job of promoting reading comprehension as users uncover secret journals, diaries, and letters. A well-sequenced series of activities begins with vocabulary and main idea, and then increases in difficulty to higher-order thinking skills such as drawing conclusions and making inferences. Also covered are parts of speech, sentence building, analogies, grammar, and more. Though not particularly innovative, the games are fun and age-appropriate and offer some good instructional feedback. In the parts of speech game, users can simply click to hear a quick definition of “adjective,” “subject,” and so forth. If kids get confused, Lydia jumps in to offer guidance.

Three levels of difficulty for both the reading material and activities provide challenges for students of differing abilities and offer a long play life. Teachers will also appreciate the Save option, which lets students play at convenient times, and the Explore mode, with direct access to the activities.

The program’s only real weakness is its less-than-smooth navigation, which doesn’t allow users to switch modes without quitting and makes exiting a several-step process. Despite this, students will have a great time solving the challenges against a backdrop of howls, squeaky hinges, eerie footsteps, lightnine flashes. and other old-fashioned scary stuff.

Copyright Peter Li, Inc. Aug/Sep 1998

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.