Learning programs multiply


Reader Rabbit is the cartoon embodiment of the Learning Company's educational programs for children. The rabbit has been around since 1984, so he's getting long in the whiskers. (Actually, you can see that he's clean-shaven.) That says a lot for any software's ability to keep up with the marketplace.

The company recently announced four titles in its Learning Creations series: Reader Rabbit Preschool, Reader Rabbit Kindergarten, Reader Rabbit 1st Grade and Reader Rabbit 2nd Grade. The programs are available for Windows and Macintosh systems for about $20.

Each grade level is unique, and each contains one of the company's new Learning Creations activities. There are four of them, one for each title:

Children learn the concepts of time, days of the week, months of the year, and seasons using a Learning Creations calendar program. They can keep track of dates, make notations about the weather on a particular day, and use animal and plant stickers to customize the months of the year. Pages can be printed.

A drawing program, Make a Masterpiece, lets children mix paints and use them to color in pictures of the world. Stamps that form letters of the alphabet can also be used to make words.

Music Maker and its companion program, Rhythm Maker, contain music activities both passive and active. By listening to new and old children's tunes, children begin to recognize notes and pitch. Using Music Maker, they can drop whole, half and quarter notes and rests onto treble and bass clefs of the grand staff. They can play their compositions using a variety of musical sounds.

Carried over from previous versions is a learning system that adjusts the difficulty of games and puzzles in the program to the child's learning speed.

And workbooks based on a child's game data and personalized awards he or she has won in the programs are available on the Web at www.readerrabbit.com. The site also has suggestions to parents for augmenting the learning sections of the program using teaching games children can play at home.

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