Monday, April 4, 2011

Going "bongo" with GoGo Kabongo Preschool

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Every now and again the TOS Crew reviews provide something for my Littlest. This time around he had an online "World" to explore. The World of GoGo Kobongo (For ages 4-7 or so).

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GoGo Kobongo encompasses 3 "Habitats" which are home to 3 games apiece. These games are intended to provide practice for the  critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are necessary to develop fluent reading (See chart, below)

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As your child starts the journey through GoGo Kabongo, he will begin in a tree-house that is sort of the "central station" for the game. He can create an "avatar" or character here, and access the map in order to visit the various habitats.  From this area he can also enter a "Skatepark" (various structures can be earned in the games~ they are pretty fun if you have a child that likes skateboards!) and a "Comic Book" (for which he earns stickers while playing games).

There are some characters who interact with your child as they play the game, specific ones for each habitat.You can learn more about them here.
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For a quick synopsis of each habitat and the games in each one you can visit this webpage.

I would say that Youngest is a little TOO young to be able to take full advantage of these games, but with a little assistance from Mom or Eldest, he was able to make his way around with a reasonable amount of success.

For instance~ in the Laughter Lake habitat~
  • Critter-Sizer was  great for his visual discrimination(Deciding if the animals were big or small), but he required assistance in the "mechanics" of choosing the correct size (Eldest determined that it was easier to use the arrow keys than the touchpad on the laptop, from a technical standpoint).
  • Scuba Dude was a more "Arcade" style game that Littlest was able to pretty much play on his own(Moving the little scuba up and down through the water to collect shells and avoid obstacles).
  • Going Buggy was another game that required a little bit of help~  with one of us asking him to remember or distinguish what things in the story were missing from the picture. From that point he was generally able to manipulate the pieces to put them in their proper places, although sometimes we had trouble with the touchpad, Mom included. These games are probably best played on a desktop, but our current circumstances more or less require the laptop be used. 
Littlest liked the ability to earn stickers and skate park pieces, but they weren't always incentive enough for him to finish a game... mostly because he is 3.5, I think. (wink)

At the moment you can sign your child up for free and have full access to the games in Laughter Lake. You can expand to the other two habitats for $4.95 each, but for a limited time you will receive the Galaxy Gardens for free when you sign up, which means 2 free habitats! :D (What have you got to lose besides a little time?)

A couple of things I should mention~
  • One~ the characters didn't bother my Littlest at all, but this game would have been "no go" with my Eldest when she was 4-7. They are a little "odd" looking, and that would have thrown her for a loop. 
  • Two~ although we only heard something like this once or twice, I was not excited about a sort of "joke" that was asked by Duffy while we were just deciding where to visit next. It had something to do with werewolves and vampires...I don't recall the exact wording but  Eldest and Middlest both instantly reacted "What?" "What's that doing in Littlest's game? That's not appropriate for his age." Your family may have a different "filter" but I felt it should be mentioned. 
  • I had occasional issues with the  games not working properly, but I am attributing that more to the fact that we are playing on a laptop with only a touchpad, not a traditional desktop with a mouse (haven't contacted "Support" yet, as most of the time the games work perfectly fine, but again, felt it merited a little mention, just  "because". I also realize the game is still in "Beta" version, so there may still be a "Bug" or two to work out.
There are Parent resources on the website  (Articles to be read) as well as a weekly "Progress report" that is sent to your email. It provides you with a summary of the activities that your child engaged in during the week, the level they are on, and some non-computer learning extension ideas(Like using dough to form letters).

In general, I appreciate the "critical thinking" skills that are taught in these game. Problem solving in an "Active" and fun format is something that should be valued. I would say that for the price, the Kabongo games are a fun "Sometimes" activity that can be enjoyed AND benefit the pre- to- early reader.

For more Crew opinions please visit the TOS Crew blog, and then go check out the free Laughter Lake habitat and try it out for yourself! :D
As always, I hope that this review was helpful to you as you determine where best to spend your homeschool budget.

Blessings~
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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