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Knowledge Adventure's Spelling Blaster Ages 6-9

This interactive arcade-like spelling program quickly catches the attention of its audience, children ages 6 to 9. The player chooses an intergalactic pal (Blasternaut, Galactic Commander, or Spot) in a mission to recover valuable stolen books on the Planet Islandria. The Mumblers, culprits from the Planet Nonsense, are stealing the books in order to learn to communicate. In order to identify the culprit, the user must solve spelling puzzles, gather clues, and eventually deduce which Mumbler is guilty.

The journey takes the player to three islands: Tropical Island, Ice Island and Island of Darkness. Island games include the Bridge Puzzle, Sir Finnigan’s Challenge, the Volcano Climb, the Volcano Descent, Priscilla’s Ice Cave, the Geyser Abyss and the Cave Hunt. Activities encountered in these games require the player to fill in missing letters to complete words, use context clues to complete sentences, recognize common spelling patterns, proofread and edit. Some activities require skilled keyboarding techniques and could frustrate students who know the answers but cannot easily manipulate the keys.

At the beginning of each game, the player (or the teacher) selects a list of words from over 140 spelling lists. Over 1,700 spelling words commonly taught in kindergarten through third grade are encountered. This large bank of words ensures that the student will be experiencing new words each time he or she plays. The customization feature allows you to select words from various lists or add words not included in the program. Unfortunately, the customized lists aren’t digitized, so the speech synthesizer that recites the words is often hard to understand. This could lead to the user’s misinterpreting the correct word. Other options of the program allow you to shorten the word lists and set the mastery percentage level.

Mission completion is rewarded with a colorful certificate, and after mastery of the word, there is an onscreen storybook to read and print. These storybooks feature the words on the lists, providing a good review of the material. However, they are not nearly as exciting as the game. The Spell Track feature allows the teacher to monitor a player’s misspellings so problem areas can be identified. Added features provide additional practice in the form of printable word lists, word searches, and crossword puzzles (even with customized words) to encourage learning away from the computer.

Paula Woodham
Assistant Principa
Bellview Elementary School
Pensacola, FL
pswoodham@aol.com

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.

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