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It's all in the game


Hop on board the educational games express this holiday season by checking out games that promote reading. Companies that used to sell only to school-supply stores and teachers are now making instructional games available to families, and many large companies of children's toys are moving into the learning skills domain. The games reviewed here have an element that encourages reading and are in the $12-$25 price range. They can be found at Learning How, Zany Brainy and Toys R Us.

For the younger set

The beloved Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham" are designed for parents and children to play together. They promote early reading skills, such as rhyming words, matching letters or giving opposites.

The "Blue's Clues Game" features the well-known Nickelodeon character and is played like the TV show. On all the clue cards there are pictures and words, so as the child recognizes the clues, he will begin to learn the alphabet and the words.

Briarpatch Co. has incorporated some favorite children's picture books into charmingly drawn board games that instill early-reading skills. These include "Kyle," "Lyle Crocodile," "Stellaluna" and "Guess How Much I Love You." Each teaches different skills, such as matching, memory and pantomime.

The same company has the popular "I Spy" detective game for ages 4 to adult. No reading is required and parents play with their children. Older children can enjoy this game without assistance, and the detailed pictures increase visual discrimination and memory skills.

Primary grades

For a real adventure, try the game thought up by a 7-year-old from Massachusetts. Mary Carvel, winner of the National Young Game Inventors Contest sponsored each year by University Games, created the "Great Jungle Adventure." Players race to rescue a stranded friend, collecting jewels and spelling words as they go along. Mary's picture is featured on the game box.

The game modeled after the popular computer program "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" is for ages 4 to 8 and teaches geography and history while encouraging reading skills. Younger children can match the pictures, while those who can read the names of the places will look for word names.

All ages

The BrainQuest Games for grades 1 to 6 and a younger version for ages 3 to 6 both contain questions about various subjects. The questions are written so that children of different ages can play together.

The Learning Well Co. makes games that have been widely used teachers to improve reading comprehension skills in an enjoyable manner. Some new games have been developed, and each of the titles is designed for two grade level ranges. The Red Level is for grades 2.0 to 3.5 and the Blue Level for grades 3.5 to 5.0. The titles, in order of my preference, are "Reading for Detail," "Inference," "Vocabulary," "Cause and Effect" and "Fact & Opinion."

Pub Date: 12/16/98

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