This weblog is no longer being maintained. All information here has been ported to EclecticEchoes.com. This site (heupel.com/eclectic) remains only for archival purposes.
My 3 year old loves to spend time playing on the computer. One of his favorite things to do on the computer is visit one of three sites–Playhouse Disney, Noggin, or Sesame Street. All three of these sites are very well tuned to their audiences, and all three rely heavily on Flash and Director based content to provide interactive games and learning activities. For the most part they all do an excellent job of it too. A few of the games at each site even provide me a bit of entertainment even when my son isn’t around. Tonight we found a new one—ScribbleVision–at Noggin that, although in concept not extremely complicated, was pulled off very well and really had Johann very excited. Although it has a few minor issues, they were not enough to put us off playing it for a good 40 minutes.
The concept behind the game is fairly simple. You help one character (Moose A. Moose) find his cohort by coloring in 2–3 items from a “coloring book page”. After these items are colored to your satisfaction you press a button and see Moose travel in an animated scene with the items you just colored as an integral part of the scene. There are a total of 5 scenes: horse and carriage, boat, train, planes and rocket ships. Johann has done a number of computer coloring book activities and felt at ease with the interface instantly. The controls however did frustrate him—and my wife and I—a little, because they were a little more sensitive. We were rewarded, though, when we saw our polka-dotted horse, its mane and tail trailing in the wind, pulling the carriage being chased by a rainbow-striped dog. Of course, they also have added sound effects.
As I said, it was good for 40 minutes of our attention even with it’s over-sensitive controls–that’s a long time for a toddler. The programmers at Noggin have an excellent concept and near perfect execution. A bucket fill option and tweaking the brush controls, i.e. the mouse, to make it a bit less taxing, would help our 3 year old enjoy the game even more. Johann loved the activity even with these issues, but did grow frustrated at times with the controls. If you have a toddler through early grade-school child or just love fun uses of Director and Flash check all three of these sites out. You will need to have the Macromedia Shockwave(Director) plug-in installed for the Noggin ScribbleVision activity, and the Flash plug-in for all the sites in general.
Oh, and Mr. Doyle–it’s the loss of sites like these that will really make me curse your patent. Right now my son can open the browser, go to the site and play these games and activities without needing me to do it for him. He takes great pleasure in being able to “Work on the computer net” like his daddy. If plug-ins cease working, that’s going to get quite a bit more complicated. Obviously, there are other means of instilling independence, self-esteem and confidence in a child, but in todays world, I don’t want any opportunity for reinforcing what my wife and I have worked hard to instill in our son to be thwarted—or for our son to be deprived of any educational activity that helps make learning fun. “Daddy, who broke my net?” Hmmm…
edited @ 12:30 on 2003-09-24 for grammatical clarity.