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K-5 Educational Software Guide

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            K-5 Educational Software Guide Update

Some noteworthy titles that are not in the following Guide are:
Bailey's Book House (Edmark), Beginning Reading (Sierra On-Line),
Kid Pix (Broderbund), Kids Can Read! $19 CD-ROM series (Discis),
Putt-Putt Joins The Parade (Humongous), Spelunx and the Caves of
Mr. Suedo (Broderbund), Swamp Gas (Inline Design), and The Even
More Incredible Machine (Sierra On-Line).  The following titles
from the Internet and on-line services are also worthy of mention:
Baby Smash (Mac), KeyWack (Mac), Natalia's Dots 1.9 (shareware/Mac),
and Oxyd (free/Mac & PC).
From our home Macintosh software collection, my 4 and 6 year olds'
favorites are:

Aesop's Fables (Discis CD-ROM) 
Bailey's Book House
Beginning Reading
Cinderella (Discis CD-ROM)
Heather Hits her First Home Run (Discis CD-ROM)
Just Grandma and Me (CD-ROM)
Kid Cuts
Kid Pix
Microsoft Creative Writer
Millie's Math House
The Paper Bag Princess (Discis CD-ROM)
The Playroom 2.0
The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Discis CD-ROM)
The Tortoise & The Hare (CD-ROM)
The Treehouse
Thinkin' Things
At Ease 2.0.1 (enables kids to use Mac independently; w/Mouse Practice)
One note about the following ratings, *I* believe that
Math Blaster Plus (and New MBP) should receive
a B instead of an A.
These software vendors should be added to the Guide:
PC Connection (800) 800-0005, MicroWarehouse
(800) 367-7080, and CD-ROM Warehouse (800) 237-6623.

Please display in a small monowidth font, e.g., 9 pt Courier. 
I hope you find the Guide useful and I look forward to any
constructive feedback.

Dr. Campbell                                 [email protected]
Chair, PTA Technology Committee                [email protected]
Worthington Elementary School                              [email protected]
Ellicott City, Howard County, Maryland               I speak for myself
Note: Paul Snow has graciously archived the original Guide
on his gopher server ( and a MS Word 5.1a RTF
interchange format version of this guide (good for Word,
WordPerfect, and FrameMaker on Macs, PCs, and Suns) on his
ftp site (; along with other educational
; Dr. Campbell  N3JBC  [email protected]  [email protected] ;
; My opinions are mine!   Happiness = Reality - Expectations, Click & Clack ;
                 K-5 Educational Software Guide
        Worthington Parent and Teachers Association (PTA)
                      Technology Committee
The PTA Technology Committee of the Worthington Elementary School
prepared this educational software guide to assist parents and
teachers in purchasing software for children. Worthington, as a
kindergarten through 5th grade elementary school, is the focus
for the grade ranges of the software rated in this guide.
This guide isn't meant to be a definitive authority of current
commercial educational software on the market, but, rather, it's
a guide to assist you in what qualities to look for in software
before you purchase. This guide provides a starting point of
things you may choose to consider when purchasing educational
software and a listing of some educational software currently on
the market. Noncommercial software, such as those available
electronically from the Internet, CompuServe, America Online and
sold by EDUCORP, isn't considered in this guide, although some of
it is very good. The PTA Technology Committee in no way endorses
any software listed in this document.
If you're interested in learning more about available educational
software, we suggest reading the books listed as references for
this evaluation or visiting your local library or bookstore. The
more you read about educational software, the more informed
you'll be and the better able to meet the learning and/or
entertainment objectives you may wish to establish when
purchasing educational software.
This software evaluation is not to be construed as an endorsement
of any commercial software by the Worthington Public School
System, Howard County, Maryland, USA; its teachers; the PTA; or
the Howard County School Board.
                       1. Getting Started
What should you consider when purchasing educational software? We
recommend that you establish learning objectives, find software
that meet those objectives, then choose among them by purchasing
software that are compatible with your computer system and within
your budget. Let's go through these steps.
1.1 Learning Objectives
Unless the software is to be used strictly for entertainment, you
should always consider what you want your child to learn from
using it. According to most current studies of educational
software for young children, software should possess the
following attributes for greatest educational value: easy for a
child to use without adult supervision; open-ended and
exploratory; able to grow on demand with the child; quick
responses to a child's actions; clear sound, color graphics, and
animation; appropriately challenging; lively and entertaining;
and a builder of self-esteem (Haughland and Shade 1990; Hohmann
1990; Salpeter 1992). Minimizing the necessity of adult
supervision or tutorship doesn't imply that adult interaction is
impossible or undesirable. It means that children are able to use
the software without adult supervision (often by virtue of its
graphical, spoken, and mouse interface) and, hence, often feel
heightened satisfaction and empowerment from such software. This
capability is especially effective in environments where a
computer is always available and a children's computer interface,
such as Edmark's KidDesk or Apple's At Ease, is used. Some
software (e.g., Edmark's Millie's Math House) offers modes that
allow the child to choose levels of difficulty and the amount of
adult interaction.
The learning objectives used in this guide are based upon the
above criteria and public school curricula for the listed age
ranges. Parents often seek software that will directly help their
children with school. For example, if your child needs additional
tutoring in mathematics and is in the second grade, we recommend
that you consult with your child's teacher to ensure that you
purchase software that's compatible with the second grade
mathematics curriculum and your child's current abilities. You
may prefer different learning objectives or have more open ended
goals (e.g., exploration, drawing). The learning objective should
be kept simple and within the capabilities of your child. Do not
purchase software that will be so difficult to use that your
child becomes discouraged. Look for software that is fun and
1.2 Purchasing Software
We highly recommend that you check out software before you buy
it. This is usually accomplished by seeing the same software at a
friend's house, library, or school; visiting a software store; or
buying the software with a return guarantee. Some publishers
offer money back guarantees and a few software vendors allow you
to return software within a reasonable time (usually 1 week)
provided that you have not damaged the software, its
documentation, warranty cards, and packaging.
     2. Is The Software Compatible With My Computer System?
Finding software that will work on your computer system is
usually accomplished by reading from their catalog or asking the
software vendor or publisher on which computer systems the
software will efficiently run. Here's what you'll need to know
about your computer to determine if a particular piece of
software is compatible with your computer system.
2.1 Matching Your Computer to the Software
Software vendors usually separate their software based upon
computer type. Once you've found software for your type of
computer, you need to be sure that it's compatible with your
computer's specific processor and operating system (OS). To
select compatible software, it's unnecessary to fully understand
the details of your computer type, processor, and OS, you only
need to know what you have. Some popular configurations,
hopefully yours, are listed below by computer type.
2.1.1 IBM PC Compatible (I)
IBM personal computers (PCs) and IBM PC compatibles (e.g., AST,
Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Tandy) use various processors such as
8088, '286, '386, '486, or Pentium. The model of the processor is
usually found on the front panel of the computer. You'll also
need to know your operating system and its version number. PCs
generally run the Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS or
simply DOS) or DOS with Windows. Type the command "ver" at the
DOS prompt (usually C>) to find out the version number (e.g., DOS
2.1.2 Apple (A)
Apple Computer, Inc., makes Apple IIe and used to make Apple IIGS
computers, which run DOS 3.3 or ProDOS operating systems.
Apple IIGS computers can run many Apple II programs, but the
reverse isn't true.
2.1.3 Macintosh (M)
Apple Computer, Inc., also makes the Macintosh series of
computers (e.g., Macintosh II, LC, Performa, Classic, Centris,
Quadra), which run System 7.1 (or older version numbers; e.g.,
System 6.0.4). To see this information, pull down the Apple menu
from the menu bar and choose "About This MacintoshI" (or "About
the FinderI") for your model designation, System Software version
number (OS), and Total Memory.
2.1.4 Amiga, Atari, Commodore (C), NeXT and others
For any computers we haven't mentioned (e.g., Amiga, Atari,
Commodore, and NeXT), match your machine, its processor, and OS
to the software's requirements.
2.2 Random Access Memory
The amount of random access memory (RAM) within a computer is
measured in thousands (K) or millions (M) of bytes. Most PC
software usually takes at least 640K bytes of RAM, while others
may take a few million bytes of RAM (e.g., 2M RAM). Your computer
operating manual may state how much RAM your computer has
(assuming that you haven't changed it). You may also notice how
much RAM your computer has when you turn it ON. On a Macintosh,
the amount of RAM is the number following "Total Memory" shown in
"About This MacintoshI" under the Apple menu. On a PC, type "mem"
or "chkdsk" at the DOS prompt to determine the amount of RAM.
2.3 Disk Space
Most modern software that features sound and color animation
requires a hard disk. If you're not going to run the software
from floppy disks, find out how much hard drive disk space it
requires. If you're going to install the software onto your hard
drive, make sure that you have enough disk space. Like RAM, hard
disk space is measured in millions of bytes or megabytes (MB). On
a Macintosh, double click the hard drive icon (usually in the
upper right corner of the screen), the hard drive's window opens
and the available disk space shows in the upper right corner of
the hard drive's window (if you don't see this, choose "by Icon"
from View on the menu bar). On a PC, type the command "dir" at
the DOS prompt and the unused number of bytes will be displayed
following your directory (1 MB = 1,048,576 bytes).
2.4 Media
Be sure you can read the media that the software is delivered on.
Software is usually delivered on the following media: 5.25"
floppy disks, 3.5" double density floppy disks, 3.5" high density
floppy disks, or Compact Disc Read Only Memory (CD-ROM).
2.5 Peripherals
You should ask whether other peripheral devices are needed, such
as a joystick, mouse, sound input, sound output, printer, CD-ROM,
or special graphics color monitor. Macintoshes generally use 12"
or 13" color monitors. PCs generally use CGA, EGA, VGA, or Super
VGA monitors (some PCs display this information when turned ON).
2.6 Further Information
If you're ever in doubt about these matters and your software
vendor can't help, we suggest that you visit your library or
bookstore and pick up a book or magazine that gives you a simple
tutorial on the workings of a computer. If you really want to
learn more about computers, we suggest that you join a computer
users group; attend a workshop; or take a computer class, often
given by community colleges.
                          3. Evaluation
We used several independent educational software publications,
listed in the References, along with our own Worthington Software
Database Form surveys to come up with a comprehensive evaluation
of the listed software. We did not attempt to rate all available
software, but only software that was readily available in the
market for personal computers and that had undergone some type of
independent evaluation by an educational institution.
We limited our evaluations to the categories of reading/letters,
mathematics/numbers, social studies and science, and
multidisciplinary (primarily mathematics and reading combined
into one program) software. We made no attempt to evaluate
language, music, keyboard, spatial relationships, clock reading,
writing, environment, animals, drawing, graphics, or other
educational software. Perhaps we'll undertake these evaluations
at a later date.
We evaluated software based upon a particular educational
institution's and/or independent evaluator's evaluations. In each
case, cited software should fulfill its overall learning
objective(s) and be relatively easy to use, as explained in
section 1.1. We used the following evaluation categories:
A- to A+: Meets or exceeds learning objectives and is user
      friendly with absolute minimum adult supervision or
B- to B+: Meets standard learning objectives and can be used with
      minimum adult supervision or tutorship.
C- to C+: Meets minimum learning objectives and should be used
      under adult supervision or tutorship.
3.1 Publishers
We have included a complete name, address and telephone number of
each listed software publisher evaluated in this guide. You may
want to call the publisher before you purchase their software and
ask for their (often free) software catalog.
3.2 Sources
We also have enclosed the names of a few software vendors that
you may also contact to purchase software. These vendors often
provide very competitive pricing for the evaluated software and
overnight delivery service.
                         4. The Ratings
Listed for each piece of software is the age range (as
recommended by our survey), our evaluation grade (using the
criteria explained above), the computers for which the software
is available (at the time of this writing!), the publisher, and
approximate cost. Please note that software is often ported to
many computers and, thus, the COMP column is highly subject to
change (especially for popular software). Also note that
publishers often merge, making the PUBLISHER column subject to
change, too.
We welcome your comments on this guide. You can contact the
chairperson of the Worthington PTA Technology Committee by mail:
Dr. Joe Campbell
4795 Ilkley Moor Lane
Ellicott City, MD  21043-6531
or, preferably, via electronic mail at
Internet: [email protected] (or
[email protected])
CompuServe: 74040,305
America Online: CELP
"Parent's Guide To Highly Rated Educational Software." Educational
     Products Information Exchange (EPIE) Institute (800-635-
     5345), 1989.
Buckleitner, W. "High/Scope Buyer's Guide to Children's Software
     1992." Ypsilanti: The High/Scope Press (313-485-2000), 1992.
Haughland, S. and D. Shade. "Developmental Evaluations of Software
     for Young Children, 1990 Edition." Albany: Delmar (800-347-
     7707), 1990.
Hohmann, C. "Young Children & Computers." Ypsilanti: The High/Scope
     Press (313-485-2000), 1990.
Neill, S. and G. Neill. "Only The Best:  Annual Guide To Highest
     Rated Educational Software." ASCD (703-549-9110), 1993.
Salpeter, J. "Kids & Computers: A Parent's Handbook." Carmel: Sams
     (in bookstores), 1992.
4.1 Reading/Letters
Alphabet Blocks        3 up   B      I M  Bright Star      3
Animal Alphabet and
 Other Things          3-6    B    A      Queue            2
Dinosaur Discovery Kit 3-8    C    ?      First Byte       2
Easy as ABC            3-6    B    A ICM  Queue            2
Electric Crayon ABCs   3 up   B    A I    Merit Software   1
First Letter Fun       3-6    B    A      MECC             3
Flodd, the Bad Guy     2-6    C    A I M  Tom Snyder       2
Fun From A to Z        3-6    B    A      MECC             2
Jack and the Beanstalk 2-6    C    A I M  Tom Snyder       2
Just Grandma and Me    3-8    B+     I M  Broderbund (CD)  2
Kids Time              3-8    B     2  M  Great Wave       2
McGee                  2-6    C+    2I M  Lawrence Prod    2
McGee At the Fun Fair  2-6    B-    2I M  Lawrence Prod    2
McGee Visits
 Katie's Farm          2-6    B     2I M  Lawrence Prod    2
Mickey's ABCs          2-5    B+     I    Walt Disney      2
Midnight Rescue
(Super Solvers)        7-14   B-     I M  The Learning Co  2
Milliken Storyteller   4-7    B-    2I M  Milliken Pub Co  2
Muppet Word Book       3-6    B-   A I    Sunburst Comms   3
Number Munchers        9 up   B-   A I M  MECC             2
Paint With Words       3-7    C-   A      MECC             2
Phonics Plus           4-8    C+*    I    Stone            2
Pictures, Letters
 and Sounds            5-6    C+   A      Hartley Course   2
Playroom, The          3-7    A*   A I M  Broderbund       2
Puzzle Story Book      3-8    C-   ?      First Byte       2
Reader Rabbit 1        3-7    B-*  A2ICM  The Learning Co  2
Reader Rabbit 2        5-8    B*     I M  The Learning Co  3
Reading and Me         4-7    B-*  A I    Davidson         2
Reading Comprehension  6-7    B-   A I    Houghton Mifflin 4
Reading Maze           3-7    C        M  Great Wave       2/3
Spell It Plus          6 up   B-   A I M  Davidson         2
 (Super Solvers)       7-12   C+     I M  The Learning Co  2
Spinnaker Reading 1
 (Peter Rabbit)        3-6    C+   A      Queue            2
Stickybear Reading     5-8    C+   A IC   Optimum Res      2
Super Munchers         8 up   B-     I M  MECC             2
Word Munchers          6-10   B-   A I M  MECC             2
*Currently used by Worthington students at home.
**Software that performs multiple functions such as math and reading.
COMPuter: A = Apple, 2 = Apple IIGS specific (many A are 2 compatible),
          I = IBM PC compatible, C = Commodore 64, M = Macintosh
COST:     1 = less than $25.00   2 = $25.01 - $50.00
          3 = $50.01 - $75.00    4 = greater than $75.01
4.2 Mathematics/Numbers
Alligator Mix          7-9    C+   A IC   DLM              2
Arithmetic Critters    5-7    C    A      MECC             3
Balancing Bear         6-10   C+   A I    Sunburst Comms   3
Base Ten Blocks        5-12   B     2  M  The Learning Box 3
Berenstain Bears Learn
 About Counting        4-7    C      I    Compton's New    2
Counting Critters 1.0  3-6    B    A      MECC             2
 & Fraction Maze       8-13   B-       M  Great Wave       2/3
Dragon Mix             9-12   B+   A IC   DLM              2
Jumping Math Flash     7-10   B    A      Mindscape        2
Kids Math              3-8    B        M  Great Wave       2
Learn to Add           3-7    C    A IC   Queue            1
Math and Me            3-6    B    A I    Davidson         2
Math Blaster Plus      6-12   A*   A2I M  Davidson         2/3
Math Blaster Mystery   10 up  B    A I M  Davidson         2
Math Magic             5-10   C    A I M  Mindplay         2
Math Rabbit            5-7    C    A2I M  The Learning Co  2
Math Shop              10 up  B-   A I M  Scholastic       2
Math Shop Jr.          6-9    C+   A I M  Scholastic       2
Mickey's 1,2,3's       2-5    C      I    Walt Disney      2
Millie's Math House    2-6    B+*    I M  Edmark           2
Number Farm            3-6    B+   A IC   DLM              2
Number Maze            5-12   B-       M  Great Wave       2/3
Number Munchers        8 up   B    A I M  MECC             2
Numbers Count          3 up   B-   A IC   Merit Software   1
Operation Neptune      10 up  B-     I    The Learning Co  3
 (Super Solvers)       7-14   B+*    I M  The Learning Co  2/3
Stickybear Math        6-9    B-   A IC   Optimum Res      2
Stickybear Numbers     3-6    C    A IC   Optimum Res      2
Winker's World of
 Numbers               6 up   B-   A      Wings for Learn  3
Young Math             4-8    C      I    Stone            2
*Currently used by Worthington students at home.
**Software that performs multiple functions such as math and reading.
COMPuter: A = Apple, 2 = Apple IIGS specific (many A are 2 compatible),
          I = IBM PC compatible, C = Commodore 64, M = Macintosh
COST:     1 = less than $25.00   2 = $25.01 - $50.00
          3 = $50.01 - $75.00    4 = greater than $75.01
4.3 Social Studies and Science
Bushbuck Charms, Viking
 Ships and Dodo Eggs   12 up  B-     I    PC Globe         2
Castles                12 up  B-     I    Interplay        3
Eco-Saurus             4-9    C+   ?      First Byte       2
Headline Harry and the
 Great Paper Race      10 up  B+     I M  Davidson         2/3
Oregon Trail, The      10 up  B    A I M  MECC             2
Where in the World is
 Carmen Sandiego       8 up   B+*  A2ICM  Broderbund       2/3
4.4 Multidisciplinary**
Miracle Piano, The
 Teaching System       10 up  B-       M  Software Tool    4
 (music/piano playing)
Muppets On Stage       3-6    B-   A I M  Sunburst Comms   3
Playroom, The          3-6    A*   A I M  Broderbund       2
Quarter Mile, The      5 up   C+   A I    Barnum Software  2
Talking Alpha Chimp    3-7    B     2I M  Orange Cherry    3
Treasure Mountain!     5-9    B*     I    The Learning Co  2
 (Super Solvers)
Treehouse, The         5-9    A-   A I M  Broderbund       3
*Currently used by Worthington students at home.
**Software that performs multiple functions such as math and reading.
COMPuter: A = Apple, 2 = Apple IIGS specific (many A are 2 compatible),
          I = IBM PC compatible, C = Commodore 64, M = Macintosh
COST:     1 = less than $25.00   2 = $25.01 - $50.00
          3 = $50.01 - $75.00    4 = greater than $75.01
                     5. Software Publishers
Barnum Software
2201 Broadway, Suite 201
Oakland, CA 94612
(800) 332-3638
Bright Star Technology, Inc.
14450 North East 29th
Suite 220
Bellevue, WA 98007
(206) 451-3697
Broderbund Software
500 Redwood Blvd
Novato, CA 94948
(800) 521-6263
Compton's New Media
345 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(800) 572-2272
Davidson & Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 2961
Torrance, CA 90509
(800) 545-7677
One DLM Park
Allen, TX 75002
(800) 527-4747
Edmark Corporation
6727 185th Avenue North East
Redmond, WA 98052
(800) 426-0856
Electronic Arts
1820 Gateway Drive
San Mateo, CA 94404
(800) 245-4525
First Byte, Inc.
Clauset Center
3100 South Harbor, Suite 150
Santa Ana, CA 21704
(800) 523-8070?
Great Wave Software
5353 Scotts Valley Drive
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
(408) 438-1990
Hartley Courseware, Inc.
Box 419
Dimondale, MI 48821
(800) 247-1380
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Educational Software Division
1 Beacon Street, 30th Floor
Boston, MA  02108
(617) 725-5000
Interplay Productions
3710 South Susan
Suite 100
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(800) 969-4263
Lawrence Productions
1800 South 35th Street
Galesburg, MI 49053
(800) 421-4157
The Learning Company
6493 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555
(800) 852-2255
The Learning Box
4508 Valley Crest Drive
Arlington, TX 76013
(800) 743-9450
6160 Summit Drive North
Minneapolis, MN 55430
(800) 685-6322
Merit Software
13635 Gamma Road
Dallas, TX 75244
(800) 238-4277
Milliken Publishing Company
P.O. Box 21579
1100 Research Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63132
(800) 325-4236
3130 N. Dodge Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85716
(800) 221-7911
Society For Visual Education
1345 West Diversey Pkwy
Chicago, ILL 60614
(800) 829-1900
Optimum Resource, Inc.
10 Station Place
Norfolk, CT 06058
(800) 327-1473
Orange Cherry Software
P.O. Box 390
Pound Ridge, NY 10576
(800) 672-6002
PC Globe, Inc.
4700 South McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ 85282
(800) 255-2789
Queue, Inc.
338 Commerce Drive
Fairfield, CT 06434
(800) 232-2224
Scholastic Software
2931 East McCarty Street
P.O. Box 7502
Jefferson City, MO 65102
(800) 541-5513
Software Tool Works
71 Leveroni Court
Novato, CA 94949
(800) 231-3088
Stone & Associates
Suite 319
7910 Ivanhoe Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037
(800) 733-1263
Tom Snyder Productions
90 Sherman Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
(800) 342-0236
Sunburst Communications, Inc.
101 Castleton Street
Pleasantville, NY  10570
(800) 321-7511
Walt Disney Computer Software Inc.
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
(800) 688-1520
Wings For Learning
1600 Greenhills Road
P.O. Box 660002
Scotts Valley, CA 95067
(800) 203-4510
                       6. Software Vendors
6.1 Nationwide Sources
Educational Resources (800) 624-2926 (full line catalog,
                                      school versions, lab packs)
Educational Soft Inst (800) 955-5570 (full line catalog,
                                      school versions, lab packs)
Egghead Software      (800) 344-4323
Learning Services     (800) 877-9378 (full line catalog, school
                                      versions, lab packs)
MacConnection         (800) 334-4444
MacWarehouse          (800) 255-6227
TigerSoftware         (800) 666-2562
6.2 Local Sources
Computer City
Price Plaza II
597A E. Ordnance Rd
Glen Burnie, MD  21060
(410) 508-3865
Governor Plaza
Glen Burnie, MD
(410) 768-1612
(800) 451-7638
Egghead Software
14201 Baltimore Ave
Laurel, MD
(301) 725-3105
(800) 344-4323
Egghead Software Institutional Sales
8815 Centre Park Dr
Columbia, MD
(800) 786-4344