About three weeks ago, Brighter Minds Media approached me and asked if I’d like to review some of their products. They told me they offer a fun, innovative line of products including software, books, workbooks, flashcards, interactive DVD games and online games. That sounded like just the type of thing I like to buy for my family so I was game.
A few days later, our mailman brought us a big box full of fun new games and books. It was like Christmas in February at my house. As I pulled items out of the box the kids began to get more and more excited.
The first item I pulled out was a Cartoon Network Allstars computer game. We have a lot of computer games in our house. Keaton and Justis are big gamers. But most of their games aren’t appropriate for a seven- or a four-year-old. So finding a game that interests Skyler, Spencer and Caleb is hard to find. It needs to have characters they can relate to and it needs to have more action and less reading. This game is perfect.
Cartoon Network Allstars has four games with characters from some of the kids’ favorite Cartoon Network shows; Fairly Odd Parents, Codename: Kids Next Door, Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog and more. The night we got the game Spencer quickly installed it on his computer. Skyler, Spencer and Caleb all gathered together on a chair and played together. The game is simple enough that they can play on their own, but challenging enough that it keeps them entertained. They’ve continued to play the game many times in the last three weeks. In fact Skyler was playing again earlier today. It’s definitely a winner in our book.
That wasn’t the only computer game we got. We also got Diner Dash. In Diner Dash you play as Flo, a woman “who has ditched her boring desk job and is now rolling up her sleeves and setting out to build her own empire of high-class restaurants.” You need to quickly seat customer, take their order, give them their food and then their check and finally clear their table. And you need to do it fast or your customer will become angry and leave, which can be quite costly. It starts out fairly easy while you get to know the game, but each level gets more and more difficult. Skyler played for quite a while, but then it got to hard for her and she asked me to help her. And that’s when I got addicted. Not only have the kids been playing it, but I’ve been playing it quite a bit. Now I’m going to have to buy Diner Dash 2.
Along with software we got some great books, including the Extreme Monsters series. Spencer lovesHe’s been carrying them around in his backpack and he and his friends read them on the school bus.
The Extreme Monsters Joke Book cracks him up with funny jokes like, “Why don’t skeletons play church music? Because they don’t have any organs!”
The other three books in the series, Extreme Monsters: The Blue Moon Effect, Extreme Monsters: What’s with Wulf? and Extreme Monsters: Meet Mr. Hydeous follow the monsters as they get in to some exciting adventures, mysterious they need to solve and bad guys they need to defeat.
These are early chapter books, so they are a little above Skyler & Spencer’s reading level. But Skyler & Spencer welcome the challenge. They feature what young readers [especially boys] love [monsters] without being scary. And they tell a great story that keeps the kids entertained.
My favorite book is Feeling Happy. It’s a cute story about feelings. Each page has a new character that is feeling a different emotion. There is a spinning wheel that allows your child to participate by picking the emotion the character on the page is feeling. The illustrations arw very colorful and playful and the text is simple and keeps the child’s attention. During Skyler’s hour of dance class Caleb asked me to read this book over and over again. He loved picking the feeling from the spinning wheel and telling me what they were feeling.
Caleb’s favorite book is the Marvel Mix & Match Storybook. The Brighter Minds Media website says you can create over 40,000 adventures with this book. Each page is broken in to five panels that can be changed to make a new story every time you read the book. One panel includes a hero, another a villian, a location, a disaster and finally, a panel for the hero saving the day. You can mix each of the panels up to create your own story. Caleb never wants to create his own story though. He just likes me to read each page as it is and he flips each panel as I read them.
The illustrations are very good, much like a comic book. And the book is very sturdy. Each page is printed on hard cardboard rather than paper and it’s bound with a spiral so the panels are easy to turn. Good construction is important with kids this age [or is that just with my kids at that age. ]
Another product that’s probably more Caleb’s speed, but Skyler & Spencer also enjoy, is the Alphabet Train puzzle. This is a great way to help your child learn the alphabet. It includes big flash cards that are printed on cardboard so they are sturdy. Kids can put the train together in alphabetical order. Also on the flash cards are smaller round “puzzle” pieces with a letter. Kids can match these up with the correct animal, such as ‘A’ for Alligator. There is also a cute story to read to the your kids as well. Caleb struggled a little bit matching the puzzle pieces, but with Skyler & Spencer’s help they were able to figure it out. And Caleb really seemed to love learning the letters and matching them to the correct animals.
Our final product was the Brain Quest DVD game for ages 6-8. We have quite a few DVD games so we are pretty familar with how these games work. Skyler & Spencer were very excited to play. Even Caleb wanted to get in on the action. So we sat down one night to give it a try. We didn’t have teams. We just let Skyler & Spencer blurt out the answers when they new them. There are some multiple choice questions like, “Who was the first president of the United States.” There are also some True/False questions like, “The sun circles around the Earth.” But Skyler & Spencer’s favorite questions are the word questions. They give you a partial word like ‘ROW’ and ask you to pick a letter from the bottom of the screen that makes the word that describes a black bird. And then after the kids picked ‘C’ for crow it asks them to remove a letter to make the word of an animal on a farm [which would be 'R' to make cow].
There are also a few questions for parents. Sometime there is a longer explanation of the answer. We encountered this when we had a question about colors. The game explained what primary colors are and how they can be mixed to make secondary colors. Then there was a question for parents about tertiary colors. So it gets both kids and parents involved.
We did run in to some glitches with this game though. Some of the screens took a while to transition. And we couldn’t play a few of the games because our DVD player wouldn’t work. [We really should invest in a better one.] The game says you need to use the arrow buttons and then hit enter, but hitting enter didn’t work for us. Instead we had to hit play. And only the up and left arrow keys worked. We couldn’t get the down or right arrow keys to function. Some of the games that required us to match up multiple things on the screen didn’t work. Like there is a game where you match the french words with the english words. We had to skip over that one. And there are some games where you locate things in the dark attic or pick the planet that a space guy landed on. We had to skip those as well. But the kids were ok with it because there was still plenty of other questions and games to play.
The game also comes with a small deck of cards which includes even more questions. So you don’t have to use the DVD game. You could use the travel game instead. Skyler & Spencer really liked this game. They loved getting the questions right and when they got one wrong they said, “well at least we’re learning.” It was really cute.
I’m really impressed with the products. They are all very entertaining [or even addicting, like Diner Dash] and educational. The kids give them all a big thumbs up and I have to agree. So check out Brighter Minds Media‘s website for some good, fun family entertainment.
I did receive these products free of charge, but I did not get paid for my review. These are my opinions of the products and are not swayed by Brighter Minds Media in any way.