A to Zap!

By on March 31, 2006

You Won’t Take A Nap In “A To Zap!”

A Review of A to Zap!


Tina Velgos

"A to Zap! " is not just another alphabet software program for kids.
There are 26 different and highly creative learning activities for
preschool kids (ages 3-6) to play with. Exciting new concepts are just a
mouse-click away in this magical world of alphabet blocks and the
"Sunbuddies", a bunch of zany cartoon characters.

This CD-ROM (Win/Mac) runs so smoothly that even young children can operate
it independently, without the help of an adult. It’s obvious that Sunburst
Communications is no newcomer to the K-12 educational software world
(they’ve been involved in educational software since 1982), although this
is their debut product in the home market.

An outstanding mix of audio adds to the crisp, letter-perfect narration by
kids. Click a letter of the alphabet for precise pronounciation and
spelling of preschool words. In the Alphabet Room, click on a letter, and a
word starting with that letter is spelled, letter by letter, on a toybox. A
toy will pop out of the toybox and by clicking the toy, it opens up a
fascinating activity for that letter.

Click on the broom, and kids can clean up the screen. When clicking the
camera, kids can take a picture of the screen and save and open pictures in
other applications. There are other options to change the letters to
uppercase or lowercase, hide the camera, add more spelling words, and
adjusting the volume.

A comprehensive Parents Guide accompanies "A to Zap! " which provides lots
of suggestions for parents to further stimulate their kids. Each letter
activity comes with challenging questions for kids to answer. This is what
interactive learning is all about!

My favorite activity was the M for Music section. Turn on the colorful
jukebox and play six different songs: ABC, classical, country, rock,
nursery rhyme and march. There are a variety of instruments kids can
experiment with (piano, harmonica, guitar, trumpet, and violin, to name a
few), or they can hear songs played by a bird, car or dog. Each letter in
the alphabet also has a note tool, which will sing the melody using the
letter name in place of words. A boffo feature was the ability to change
instruments in the middle of a song.

Timmy, age 4, and I enjoyed the P for Paint activity as we swirled our
virtual paintbrushes in buckets of marvelously brilliant paint cans. As we
picked a color by
clicking the brush on a can of paint, the paint name is pronounced and the
paint on the brush shows the new color. We painted each letter by clicking
the letter with the brush. One of the benefits of virtual painting is
there’s nothing to clean up afterwards.

The V for Vacuum activity was hilarious. We could remove letters from the
alphabet board by vacuuming them up. The letter appears under the blocks
and when you move the cursor over the letter, the letter cries out, "Help!
Put me back! " Of course, we moved the letter back to its home by clicking
on it and dragging it to its original position. It was also loads of fun
for Tim to click the vacuum cleaner on and off. If he would only vacuum
the floors in our house!

Don’t miss the A is for Airplane activity where you can watch virtual
planes zoom above an alphabet. By clicking any letter, the planes write
the letters in the sky. First, a large airplane draws the letter in
uppercase, then a smaller plane draws the lowercase letter.

I kept hearing a high-pitched voice cry, "Mommy, mommy" and thought I was
hearing things. If you’re a mom, you’ve certainly had the experience when a
kid cries "Mommy", that you instantly think its your child. Well, I had to
try out this activity. Five mother birds are nesting in a tree. When you
click a bird, she flies off her egg. Click the egg to watch a chick hatch
and cry out for its mommy!!! I was a little relieved! Then, you try to
match the chick with its mother. When you click from a chick to the right
mommy, the mother flies back to the nest.

Timmy enjoyed the race track game in the C is for Car activity. Cars race
along four roadways. The fun part for the kids is moving four track pieces
by clicking and dragging the mouse: a U-turn, a loop-the-loop, a jump ramp
and a color-changing tunnel. Clicking on the traffic light to make traffic
stop and go was a thumbs up adventure for Timmy.

Don’t forget the N is for Numbers activity. Kids can play with a screen
full of numbers, chalk boards and a play area. This is a virtual preschool
with fun zapping sounds and zany animated characters like dogs, elephants,
rabbits and turtles.

Of course, we liked the matching game called Y is for Yummy. The object of
the game is to match identical letters with treats. After all treats are
matched, wacky green monsters try to eat them. We used the wild lightning
bolts to zap the monsters and Tim giggled throught the whole zapping
adventure.

There are a gazillion reasons to like "A to Zap! ". Two thumbs up for
interactive software like this one, which is loaded with activities to make
learning letters, numbers and words a fun-filled adventure for preschool
kids.


School House Scorecard


Product:

A to Zap!

Company:

Sunburst Communications
101 Castleton Street
Pleasantville, NY 10570
Phone: 800-321-7511
www.nysunburst.com/

Cost:

$49.95


System Requirements:

Macintosh:
Apple Macintosh 68040, System 7.0 or later,
4 MB RAM required (System 7.0 or 7.1), 5 MB RAM required (System 7.5),
13″ or larger monitor, 256 colors at 640 x 480 resolution or higher,
Double-speed or faster CD-ROM drive.

IBM:
IBM PC or compatible, 486/33 MHz processor, 8 MB RAM,
Windows 3.1 or higher, SVGA color monitor,
256 colors at 640 x 480 resolution,
Mouse or other Windows-compatible pointing device,
PC-compatible double speed or faster CD-ROM drive
and a PC Sound card.


Breakdown:


Ease of Use 4
Learning Value 5
Entertainment Value 4
Graphics 4
Sound 5


Overall Score:


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