Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Brighter Minds Media

Brain Quest DVD GameI mentioned a couple weeks ago the good folks at Brighter Minds Media sent me some of their products to review and though I did have issues with the Marvel Superhero Fact Book I'm finally getting around to mentioning a couple things I did like.

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Brain Quest DVD Game The boys pulled this out immediately, popped it into the DVD player and started answering the questions as they flashed onto the screen. By using the remote control to select answers it was like a kid-version of Trivial Pursuit on television. Very popular.

However, the box describes the game as suitable for "Ages 8-10, Grades 3-5" and Spencer, my 4th grader, found the questions too easy. They were more on David's 2nd grade level--challenging enough for him to occasionally miss questions but to still have a fighting chance at answering 80% of them. Additionally, though the boys liked the interactive nature of the game I was less enthusiastic about something that had my boys sitting in front of the television--however educational it might be.

Included with the game is a set of mini question cards from the original Brain Quest game--the low-tech version--that I found more appealing to my mother-sense than the electronic version. But then I'm uptight when it comes to electronic media and my children. You already knew that.

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Care Bears Sing and Play PianoCare Bears Sing and Play: Follow-the-Lights Piano Songbook This was Lillian's (4) favorite item by far. She's played with it for hours. For hours. And this alone is enough to generate a lot of affection in my heart for Brighter Minds Media. It's pretty simple, the board-book opens to display written music for various common melodies and the attached keyboard can be set to light up individual keys in the correct sequence so children can play the melody themselves.

Lillian followed the little red dots on the keys as they lit up, playing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and other golden hits with a great deal of satisfaction. However (and there's always a "however" with me isn't there?) some of the songs used common melodies but with made-up Care Bear titles and lyrics. So "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" had become "Happy Happy Pink Bears" or some such nonsense. Why would this matter? Well, for parents who don't read music it may be difficult to identify which songs are which when their child wants to know "What song is this?" as they inevitably will. Plus, I'm rather a purist and the songs were great the way they were without being muddled up with any fat pastel teddy bears.

So when Lillian--who knows nothing about Care Bears and therefore wasn't particularly drawn in by the merchandising gimmick--asked me which song was which I just told her the correct title and let her go at it. She never knew the difference.

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30 Minutes a Day Learning System30 Minutes a Day Learning System: Kindergarten I've never had any of my children in preschool. Probably a subject for another post but here I'll merely say I've never enrolled them. Lillian will be in kindergarten this fall and as of yet still can't write her name (there's just too darn many Ls and Is to keep them all straight).

So I was interested in a product that might give her a taste of academics and give her a boost the last few months before she starts school. The book, which claims to be an "iParenting award winner"--whatever that may mean--has simple worksheets for writing letters and numbers as well as worksheets for simple addition and subtraction, grouping, and comparisons. As best I could tell they looked very similar to what my children have done during kindergarten.

I was a little surprised because in my experience most workbooks for elementary school are not as hard as they claim to be. For example, if a workbook says it's on a 3rd grade level, my experience has been that it's closer to 2nd grade. My personal rule of thumb. However, this book really did seem to be on a kindergarten level. Having had three older children who have gone through the system I have some experience in this and the curriculum outlined in the book seemed consistent with my other kids' kindergarten experiences.

So Lillian, enthralled with her new "school book" has been painstakingly working her way through some of the pages: writing letters with straight lines, writing letters with curved lines, writing her numbers and comparing sets of numbered items. But that's as far as she can go really. It's a bit hard for her at this point though it's been fun for her to play school and practice holding her pencil and writing simple characters.

Overall, not a bad product, though probably even better as a supplement to kindergarten rather than preschool--just as it is advertised to be.

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There were more products which they sent and I'm planning on giving everything away (except the piano, the batteries have been worn out on that one) as the prize for March's Write-Away Contest so you can check them out for yourself. Check back March 1st for details.

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1 comments:

Stephanie said...

I really like the Brain Quest cards. Used them when I was teaching and Kellen (8) has a couple sets. Great for the car! DVD sounds interesting, but maybe I'll save it for Lydia (5)