Friday, May 15, 2009
Computers play a big part in our household. Alfie is a computer engineer who frequently works (or tinkers around with new technology) nights and weekends, and with all that I do online (shop, manage finances, manage the family schedule, blog, etc..) I feel like I'm in front of a computer all the time. So it's only natural that the kids want to spend all day in front of a screen just like mama and daddy. We don't let them, of course; computer time is regulated just like tv time, and we monitor the sites they visit to make sure they have significant educational as well as entertainment value.
Recently I was invited to try out Jumpstart, a new 3-D virtual world for kids. The site is the latest product of Knowledge Adventure, creators of the award-winning JumpStart Learning System and Math Blaster series of educational children’s games. Encouraged by their stellar reputation for creating educational products for the home and classroom, I accepted the invitation and checked the site out with my eager children beside me. That was about a month ago -- and after a month of playing, I do believe Jumpstart has actually surpassed Webkinz World as my kids' favorite online world!
To start with, kids create alter-egos called Jumpees. Like avatars, they can customize their Jumpees' hair, features, clothes and more. Then they are off to explore Jumpstart world by making their Jumpees run down paths, cross bridges and swim through lakes to enter various gates and doors where they can access various games and activities. 3Po and Jammy love sending their Jumpees down on the long, twisting slides or off cliffs on hang-gliders because, just like those virtual reality rides, they get to swoop up and down and experience it themselves. They even get to exercise their urge to have their Jumpees get "physical" in a pretty harmless way, by jumping over hedgehog-like creatures called PunkPunks.
Of course, as the Queen of our household, no-one goes online without my say-so, and no website gets bookmarked without my seal of approval. I think Jumpstart is a great website, and here's why:
* Jumpstart accommodates such a wide range of ages and abilities (3-10). There is a different "world" for each age group and age-appropriate games and activities in each one. For example, StoryLand is where preschoolers can find age-appropriate learning games that teach important skills like letter and number recognition, phonics, patterns and more. Children in levels K-2 can visit AdventureLand, they can practice reading, math and critical thinking. And they are continually developing new worlds -- I read on the Jumpstart blog that they're working on an underwater mermaid world, sweet!
* The Jumpstart world is so bright and friendly, no muscled commandos with bazookas here. The focus is on exploring and adventure (with lots of learning sneakily thrown in), not on shooting or shopping as so many other virtual worlds seem to be.
* The site is extremely user-friendly. It's easy even for non-readers to find their way around because they are guided by the Jumpstart characters at every step of the way. They can listen to spoken instructions and tips at any time just by clicking on the question mark (help) icon. (Okay, I admit I've got a personal motive -- it means they spend less time bugging me and asking for help with the site, but hey it fosters independence and boosts their self-esteem and all that).
* You only need 1 main account to play, and you can create multiple sub-accounts for each child. It means less hassle logging in and out -- which is great when you are overflowing with children and online accounts like I am. * Purchasing premium membership will get you the most benefits and access to the full-featured site, but you can also create a free Jumpstart account. So your child can experience the fun and learning in the Jumpstart 3D Virtual World even if your budget doesn't allow for the premium features.
Would you like to try Jumpstart? Jumpstart is providing one lucky winner with a free premium 6-month subscription to the Jumpstart website! To enter, simply leave a comment here telling me which land in the Jumpstart 3D world your child would love to visit (Hint: Check the map!). This must be completed for any extra entries to count.
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following:
1) Create a free Jumpstart account and try the site out with your child. Then come back here and leave a comment with your Jumpstart user name and tell me one thing your child likes about the site. This will get you FIVE extra entries -- so you get to leave five comments for doing this!
2) Follow Bonggamom Finds on Blogger(leave a comment with your Blogger profile name).
3) Follow Jumpstart Erin on Twitter (leave a comment with your twitter id).
4) Follow Bonggamom Finds on Twitter AND Tweet about this giveaway (leave a commment with a link to your tweet). Here's a tweet you can copy and paste:
Jumpstart giveaway from @bonggafinds enter now at http://tinyurl.com/plfwzy
Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry (don't list down all your extra entries in 1 comment) . This giveaway ends at midnight PST on May 29, 2009; I will draw a winner at random on May 30 and post their names on the same day. For additional giveaway rules, click here. Good luck!