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# The beloved bear and his friends make good math and reading teachers.

April 12, 2001|JINNY GUDMUNDSEN | jinny@choosingchildrenssoftware.com

Winnie the Pooh and his friends are some of the most loved characters of all time. Because of their universal appeal, they wield great influence over children. And when that influence is used to teach, it can be quite powerful.

Tigger, the irrepressible tiger friend of Pooh, steps into the limelight in Disney's new "Tigger Activity Center." Two older but well-done Pooh titles recently have been packaged together and are available as "Ready for Reading and Math With Pooh."

'Tigger Activity Center'

Tigger bounces into your computer to lead children 4 to 8 through five activities in the Hundred Acre Wood. Children solve puzzles, play a game with Pooh, create art and compose music.

There are two puzzle activities. Players find the first when Tigger comes upon a stream too wide for bouncing across. So some turtles in a nearby pond offer their backs as steppingstones.

To help Tigger traverse, players select different-colored turtles and place them in a line across the stream. But these turtles are picky and stay in position only if you put them in an order only they know. The puzzle is to figure out the turtles' secret order.

The turtles help out every time you make a guess by moving up a row on the stream and giving clues. They indicate whether you have put the turtles with the correct color in the water and whether they are in the right order within the sequence of turtles. This puzzle is a takeoff of the logic game Mastermind, and it is very well done, with three levels of difficulty.

In the other puzzle, children sort vegetables to help clean up a mess Tigger makes while visiting Rabbit. The activity is timed. And Tigger and Rabbit both hurry the player along, something that bothered several kid testers. There are 24 vegetables to sort, but children are never told the names of these veggies.

The program offers a fun board game involving Pooh and his friends. There also is a dot-to-dot activity. The dots are small and a little close to each other, but our 5-year-old tester didn't seem to mind.

The music activity is the weakest. It is difficult to play, and the resulting "music" leaves much to be desired. Players must choose instruments for Pooh and his friends to play and then select a note for each instrument. The result is not very harmonic.

As far as activity centers go, this one is good but not great. The turtle activity is inspired. The board game and the dot-to-dot are solid fare. The sorting game is adequate, but it would have been better without time pressure. The music activity stinks.

This is a repackaging of "Ready to Read With Pooh" and "Ready for Math With Pooh," both strong titles when they were introduced several years ago. They have withstood the test of time and are worth exploring with children 3 to 6.

In "Ready for Math With Pooh," children help Pooh plant a garden. To get seeds, plants, ladybugs and other necessities, children must travel around the Hundred Acre Wood to visit all of Pooh's friends and play games with each.

For example, at Rabbit's hole, children learn to make patterns as they help Rabbit create a sequence of steps to make a rain dance. With Tigger and Roo, children explore the concept of more and less by sorting creepy crawlers by attributes and then learning to count them. At Piglet's house, children help Piglet count cupcakes by frosting them. Piglet then teaches the player how to add by grouping batches of cupcakes together. There are seven activities in all, each with three levels of difficulty.

This is an excellent first math program. Because it offers multiple levels and a wide range of activities, children from preschool to kindergarten will find fun and stimulating things to do within the program.

With "Ready to Read With Pooh," children explore nine activities. They learn alphabet recognition, letter sounds, differentiation of lowercase and uppercase letters, how to draw letters, rhyming, relating images to words, listening comprehension, simple spelling and sentence structure.

Both programs excel in how they communicate with children. The programs invite children to participate by surrounding them with the familiar voices of the Pooh characters, fabulous graphics and warm and supportive feedback. They even offer hot spots--places that animate when clicked--to drive concepts home.

*

Jinny Gudmundsen is editor of Choosing Children's Software magazine.

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The Skinny

"Tigger Activity Center"

Price: \$20

Ages: 4-8

Platform: PC

System Requirements: A Pentium 166 with 32 MB of RAM and 30 MB of available hard disk space

Publisher: Disney Interactive

The good: Logic game involving turtles

Bottom line: Good but not great

Price: \$20

Ages: 3-6

Platform: PC/MAC

System Requirements: On the PC, a 486 or Pentium 166 with 8 MB of RAM and 10 MB of available hard disk space. On the MAC, a 68040 running System 7.1 with 8 MB of RAM and 10 MB of available hard disk space.

Publisher: Disney Interactive

The good: Two programs for the price of one

Bottom line: Two wonderful Pooh programs that teach math and early reading