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Article:    Electronic Workbooks

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Most parents have purchased at least one workbook for their children with at-home skills practice in mind. And, many are familiar with School Zone’s colorful and age-appropriate workbooks. Now these excellent workbooks have made the leap to the computer screen. A series of "On Track" packages is now available, and each comes complete with a printed workbook or early readers.

Parents will appreciate the simplicity of these software titles and kids will actually enjoy working through them. There’s a practice-makes-perfect attitude packed into these programs – children work through a session and when the session is complete, they’re bumped back to the pages with errors. If this sounds harsh in any way – it’s not! The programs are positive and never discouraging on the academic front. Instead, they more accurately reflect real-world school expectations. In the games department, however, kids who are arcade-challenged might be discouraged by some of the more challenging "recess" game offerings. Happily, these can be skipped if they prove too frustrating for younger children.

Benefits of workbooks on CD-ROM include auto-correcting, positive feedback and rewards, and randomized problems. Drawbacks include an approach that doesn’t do much teaching (kids will need to turn to their parents for academic help), and keyboard input that subtracts from writing practice.

For preschoolers, titles in the series offer essential exercises that help young children get ready for bigger learning in Kindergarten. Same or Different: Preschool helps children exercise comparison skills as they distinguish between different sizes, colors, and letters. When kids compare and contrast items onscreen, they must pay attention to details that gives their reading readiness skills a boost. Does it Belong: Preschool again helps children discern likenesses and differences as they examine groups of pictures and identify which object does not belong or find an out-of-place object in a detailed picture. The logical thinking practice provided in this program helps to lay the groundwork for reading and math in the years to come. In Shapes: Preschool, kids work with basic shapes as they engage in simple exercises like connecting the dots. 

Transition Math: Grades K-1 includes virtual workbook pages featuring such math fundamentals as counting, shapes, and telling time, that help children make the "transition" from basic preschool math concepts to school math. Here kids will develop skills in sequencing, patterning, counting, relating numbers to number words, grouping items into sets, and telling time. Math Grade 2 focuses on typical second grade math curriculum. Children practice skip counting with a connect the dots activity, reorganize numbers (up to 100) in numerical order, explore fact families, practice addition and subtraction with regrouping (using an onscreen notepad), create number sentences, and more. In between these serious skill-building exercises, they play arcade-style games like guiding a kangaroo in a race that requires precise timing of jumps over objects in the way.

Spelling Puzzles Grade 1 provides early language-arts practice as children practice alphabetical order, beginning and ending sounds, antonyms, and more.

Both Beginning Reading K-1 and Beginning Reading 1-2 stray a little from the format of the other programs in the series. Each features two animated stories and comes with Start-to-Read! printed books instead of workbooks. These include a dictionary with audio definitions and a create-a-story activity that involves "writing" an original story by using picture and word stamps. Both of these titles are less engaging than the workbook software mentioned above.

We love these electronic workbooks – they are inexpensive and refreshingly age-appropriate in an industry that all too often churns out overly ambitious suggested age ranges in an attempt to capture bigger chunks of the market. Plus, these programs provide unbeatable skills practice.

 

Available "On Track" Titles:
  • Same or Different: Preschool
  • Beginning Sounds: Preschool
  • Shapes: Preschool
  • Does it Belong?
  • Reading Readiness K-1

 

 
  • Transition Math K-1
  • Math Grade 1
  • Math Grade 2
  • Math Grade 3
  • Spelling Puzzles Grade 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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