Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Plumo at the Park!

Plumo at the Park!

Spring 2003 Software
Ages: 4 - 6 yrs.
Price: $24.95
Platform: windows/mac
Plumo is a colorful cartoonish Parrot who guides children through 12 amusement park activities (each with two difficulty levels) that helps to develop practical learning skills such as pre-reading and beginning counting, shape matching, and even a bit of logical thinking. Players can choose to play in English, French or Spanish--though there's not much language spoken in any of the activities. At any time, however, players can click on Plumo who will explain how to play each game.

Not that the activities are all that hard--this game plays young in age, in fact. While 4-year-olds will adore the simplistic graphics and friendly music and sounds, not to mention the amusement park environment, many 6-year-olds will tire of this quickly. Consider the Clown tent, for instance: It's all facial feature identification--Plumo says "eyebrows," and players click on the clown's eyebrows, Plumo says lips, players click the lips.

The ball-making machine is more fun and creative. The classic match game is challenging. And the alphabet Ferris wheel not only asks kids to fill-in the black letter but also press it on the keyboard. When a player succeeds, the payoff is a burst of music and action--such as the roller coaster zooming through its track or a clown performing gymnastics. All very tame and quiet.

This is not fancy software and there are probably a dozen of early education titles out there that cover the same fundamental skills in different ways and just as well or better. But if you're looking for a nice, little, friendly computer game for your 4-year-old, maybe his or her first game, this is one to try.

Don Oldenburg   ©2003 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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