Math Can be Fun-- Honest!
by David Anderson and Alan Zisman
(c) 1999. First published in Toronto
Computes, January 1999
Microsoft Arthur?s Math Carnival? $34.95
Microsoft My Personal Tutor?1st and 2nd Grade-- $44.95
Got a 5-8 year old? Microsoft wants him or her to have
fun while learning
Arthur?s Math Carnival is one of several titles
featuring the characters
of the popular Marc Brown story books, designed to give lots of
reinforcement to the young learner.
Like the Actimates series,featuring Barney, this
collection can be used
along with interactive stuffed toys?in this case, Arthur or his sister
D.W. The dolls have enough electronics inside to sink a battleship, and
the cost is fairly stiff at approximately $149 Canadian for the doll
accompanying radio-frequency adapter.
But the doll is not required to make use of this
software. The program
consists of a well-engineered menu, which is a clickable picture of
characters and personalities from the numerous Marc Brown stories (also
available as Broderbund Talking Book CD-ROMs). The game offers five
of difficulty, user defined. The animation and sound is outstanding
The programmers were thoughtful enough to give the
child or parent total
control of the ever-present chatter that usually boils out of the
with software like this. All it takes is one click of the mouse, and
vocal track stops dead, except for the ambient sounds of the carnival
Did I forget to say this was a math game based on
might encounter at a carnival? For example, your children can find a
treasure by using their spatial awareness abilities, as the clues to
location of the treasure tell you how far to move to find the spot.
moves to the treasure are rewarded. There is a wide array of basic
drills and simple equations, such as 15 divided by 3. Expect more
titles featuring Arthur and D. W.
Microsoft has produced another helpful series for the
library. The Grade 1-2 Edition of My Personal Tutor follows up on last
year?s Pre-School & Kindergarten edition. This version?s programs
Turru?s Daring Sea Quest, for thinking skills, Sky?s Space Station
for early math skills, and Sam?s Hide and Seek Adventure, for early
activities. All three games keep track of the player?s score, and the
can be printed upon request, showing the skill areas tried, number
While each game is installed and run separately, all
(like the presechool
version) feature Professor P. T. Presto, the personal tutor, always
at the edge of the screen to ofer helpful hints.
The games are beautifully designed to engage the minds
of 5, 6, and
7-year-olds, with just the right mixture of music, animation, effects,
and rewards. And for the relief of all parents, the games contain
no violence or destruction.
Try both with children aged 5 to 8, and
don?t be surprised
to see big sister or brother stealing a turn at the Math Carnival or
the Personal Tutor.