At jumpstart.com, kids age 3 - 10 create their avatar, or "jumpeez". They can travel around the site, unlocking games and exploring. Included in the account is access to mathblaster.com, for kids from 6 to 12. You can put up to 6 children on each account! They also have a blog for parents so you can stay up to date on the latest additions to the games. There are opportunities to interact with other players online, but I chose to disable those for my kids. There was plenty to do without the chatting option.
My kids have LOVED exploring the online worlds. It's been a great motivator for them to finish their school work and get chores done. They want to hurry and finish so they can play. They even like watching each other play.
Both Maren and Joshua agree that they're favorite parts of JumpStart are the Enchanted Sanctuary and Windy Hollows. At the Enchanted Sanctuary, they get to raise their own Mythie (dragon, pegasus or hornhowlie) and train them. Windy Hollows is a place of magic where players can make potions and play wizard games.
|flying with your Mythie|
They've also enjoyed raising their own Monster Mutts at Mathblaster. This site is full of math games, and the space theme is especially appealing to Joshua. He loves to get on the site and wait in the center of the space station for a "red alert" which means they're under attack and they have to run through a special door and protect the space station. He loves that part.
|defeat the bad guy with Math Power!|
|Red Alert! Red Alert!|
As a parent, I wouldn't say the sites are extremely educational. There are lots of educational games, but there is also a lot for the kids to do and explore in between the games. At first I thought the games were a bit hard to find, but then realized each player has a dashboard type thing where you can quickly get to the games you like. In our family computer time is limited to 30 minutes a day (for the kids anyway, heehee), and I've noticed that the kids spend most of their time exploring and training their creatures rather than playing the educational games. So it's not like you're giving the kids a wonderful healthy salad, but it's not like giving them a candy bar either. It's more of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. It's still a treat, but it's got some good stuff in it too, so you don't feel bad eating it for breakfast.
Part of the site is free to anyone, but there is a lot more available to members, including my children's favorite part, the training of mythical animals. There are also 4 downloadable games available to members, but we couldn't play them as they currently only work on PCs and we are an Apple family. You can join the site 3 different ways. You can try it for a month, for $7.99, buy a year of play for $74.99, or buy a lifetime membership for $149.99. This might be a nice things for parents or grandparents to give those children who already seem to own every toy on the planet as a gift for birthdays or Christmas.
I am very excited to announce that Jumpstart is giving away a 3 month membership to one of my blog readers. That makes me excited because it makes my blog feel a bit more grown up. Plus, they said I can run the giveaway however I like, which also makes me smile. So here goes.
You can enter the giveaway up to 3 times. The first way is just to leave a comment saying something like "Yeah, I'd like to win that for my kids. That sounds fun!" The second way to enter is to follow my blog and post a comment saying you now follow, or if you already follow, leave a comment and tell me "I follow your blog with google reader" or something like that. The third way, and this is the part that makes me giggle, is to leave some kind of chicken related comment. It can be a chicken joke, a chicken poem, the title of a favorite chicken book, a chicken recipe. . . you get the idea. Anything chicken related. I know. I'm kind of a goofball. So you can leave 3 comments if you do all 3 things, thus increasing your chances of winning. See? We'll let people leave comments for a week and then I'll do one of those random comment number things and announce the winner next Tuesday morning. Sound good?
Disclosure: I was provided with a JumpStart membership at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products' abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.