Computer Cool School, one of the best in the world, is one of Fisher-Price’s preschool learning toys recommended for children ages 3 to 6. It includes a kid-friendly keyboard, a writing tablet and learning software that boasts a full preschool curriculum. This early learning toy connects to your computer, turning it into a learning center for children where they can practice preschool subjects and computer skills in a protected environment.
Even though this is the only one of the preschool learning toys we reviewed that actually occupies your own computer, the extensive learning software that comes with the product, as well as the quantity and quality of suggestions that get parents involved in their child’s learning, give Computer Cool School an edge over other preschool learning toys like ClickStart My First Computer and Text & Learn.
Computer Cool School is recommended for children ages 3 to 6. However, because every child is different, it is important that you keep in mind your child’s temperament and ability level when choosing preschool learning toys. One of the kid-friendly features of this electronic learning toy is the keyboard and attached writing tablet. The apparatus connects directly to your computer via an included USB cord, and the learning software displays on your monitor ??? making it very much “just like Mom and Dad’s” computer. The large keys and oversized stylus are great for small hands that are still developing. Additionally, five giant buttons across the top make it easy for your child to navigate between the program’s five learning areas. The color graphics and extensive learning games offer a lot to keep your child’s interest. And when she’s playing, she’s learning.
There is one small drawback for left-handed children. The tablet used for writing and drawing is attached to the right side of the keyboard. The attached stylus can be positioned either to the right or left of the tablet, and that is a great help for “lefties.” However, the tablet is still on the right ??? a perfect position for right-handed writers, but it requires left-handed learners to move either themselves or the keyboard in order to be well-positioned for writing. It would be even better if the writing tablet could be removed and reattached to the left side of the keyboard.
Computer Cool School is the only one of the preschool learning toys we reviewed that does not use batteries; it is powered via a USB cord which attaches to your computer. And herein lies both the good news and the bad news: no batteries to worry about will save you money, and it means you’ll never have to deal with a dead toy and a child who is upset because of it; however, it also means that for your child to use Computer Cool School, he’ll have to occupy your computer.
With a one year warranty, this product boasts one of the longer warranties of all the preschool learning toys we reviewed. Additionally, since it runs through your computer, you have ultimate volume control. In fact, if the electronic toy’s noises are at times too bothersome, headphones would even be an option. Additionally, the software lets you password-protect the rest of your computer. This will keep your child from inadvertently accessing the rest of your computer files or the internet.
This preschool learning toy’s most stand-out, parent-friendly feature is the supplemental materials for parents. The learning software comes with over 15 pages of extended learning ideas for each of five learning center topics. These activity suggestions serve to extend your child’s learning beyond the software and into the real world, and they have the added bonus of providing simple learning activities that you and your child can do together. For example, one activity included with the math center encourages you to “Play the shape hunt game” by finding a basic shape in plain view and asking your child to guess which object has that shape. Then you can trade roles, allowing your child to identify the shapes in his everyday environment. In the reading center section, one suggestion includes turning of the computer’s sound and reading the included electronic book with your child.
Computer Cool School has the most well-rounded curriculum of all the preschool learning toys we reviewed. It helps preschoolers get ready for school with five learning centers: Reading and Writing, Math, Art, Music and Science. The included learning software exposes your child to preschool topics like the following
Some of the learning activities have the feel of a game, and all are designed to teach and engage your child at the same time. The art center allows for free-hand drawing as well as stamping with pre-drawn images that come with the program. The reading center has activities that function like an interactive book. Additionally you’ll find a writing tablet with an attached stylus and templates to help your child learn to write letters and numbers. There are also printable activity sheets and a file of PDFs with suggestions on how to enhance and expand your child’s learning.
In addition to the learning software that comes with this learning toy, Fisher-Price offers add-on cartridges of learning games and activities for your child. They are sub-divided into age rages of 3 to 5 and 4 to 6 years old, and they provide additional content for the five learning centers. These add-ons feature some of your kids’ favorite characters: For your 3- to 5-year-old child, you’ll find software featuring Clifford, Dora and Diego, Scooby-Doo, Elmo and Kai-lan. The software for the 4- to 6-year-old set includes characters like SpongeBob SquarePants, Super Why! and the DC Super Friends.
Like other preschool learning toys, Computer Cool School also introduces your child to computer skills. Children learn to navigate a computer screen and can use the stylus like a mouse. Additionally, the QWERTY keyboard contributes to early typing and keyboarding skills by getting your child used to the unique order and placement of keys on a keyboard.
There is a companion website for this early learning toy that is full of product descriptions and information for parents. You’ll also find a detailed user’s guide with the toy. However, the Fisher-Price customer service contact information was tucked away in a difficult-to-locate spot on their website. There is a toll-free customer service phone number, but we could find no method for contacting them online or through email. Be aware that the software is designed for use with Windows Vista or Windows XP, and there is no Mac-compatible version.
With a well-rounded preschool curriculum, helpful parent suggestions and durable design, Computer Cool School is, indeed, one of the coolest preschool learning toys. With its combination of learning activities and kid- and parent-friendly features, you’ll find this electronic learning toy easy for both you and your child to love.
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