Knowledge Adventure’s Reading Blaster Ages 5-7
This program is designed to help first grade students develop strong reading, word building, and comprehension skills in a non-threatening, interactive environment. Kids join Galactic Commander Blaster and his pal Mel as they soar off to the Planet of Lost Things to return missing items, such as socks and balloons, to children throughout the galaxy. To win a game, you must achieve mastery. Mastery means you have scored 85% out of a possible 100% of points available in the game. After successfully completing reading activities and word games to earn five keys to unlock the Lost and Found room, kids can play a game to recover the lost items. When you return the lost things to their owners, you’ll receive thank-you “B-Mails” from your new friends.
Reading Blaster begins its journey with the option of listening to an introduction or launching directly into the program. The icons used on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen are very helpful. They allow you to change the level of play, watch your progress on the meter as you earn a key, see the total number of keys you have collected, seek help, or return to the main menu. Simple directions are given on how to play the game at the beginning of each activity. The arrow keys (right, left, up and down) are used to manipulate the activity pieces and to play the game after earning a key.
Reading Blaster contains five different learning activities with five different levels of play difficulty. After you have mastered one level, you will automatically be bumped up to the next level. You can also change levels whenever the Level button is on the toolbar.
The Balloon Blowout activity lets kids unscramble and rearrange balloons to spell a word, make a complex sentence with punctuation, or create a story that makes sense.
In the Lost Your Marbles room, kids chomp marbles bearing words that fit in a category to make a snake of eight marbles. Word recognition of simple thematic groups such as number words, color words, toys and pets are used. Students progress from simple to complex groups of nouns, verbs and adjectives.
Picture This checks reading comprehension. Kids read or have the directions read aloud, and place stickers in the proper place to make a poster. They must then choose a title to go with their poster. This part of the program builds from three simple directions to five complex directions using context clues.
A Treasure Room is set up for each user. The Message Board (word processor) lets kids create a story, use stamps, look up words in the dictionary, and print out their work. Another section allows students or the teacher to choose a level and a list of words, and print a word search puzzle. The Story Corner gives the student a choice of reading a story on his or her own, or having it read aloud, as well as printing out the story to take home. The Star Chart maps the mastery level of each game. Print out this chart to track a child’s progress to share with parents. When the signal is on the B-Mail, it means you have a message from someone. Here at B-Mail you can also send mail to one of your pals.
Reading Blaster is a well-designed, easy-to-navigate program. This program, which requires quick thinking, fast reflexes, and good hand-eye coordination, appeals to children who enjoy arcade-style games. Kid reviewers especially enjoyed the creative graphics and sound effects. The educational content is on target with skills appropriate for this age and grade level, and fits nicely into the curriculum. It begins at a very simple level, stressing letter sounds and recognition, and moves the player up through reading comprehension. Working through the software will help strengthen and expand basic reading skills. Notable features include the ability to choose skill levels of particular reading exercises, and to track progress. The sound effects and graphics, the educational content, the ease of navigation, and a kids-oriented theme make this software great motivation for learning and practicing reading.
By Paula Woodham
Bellview Elementary School
This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.