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December 28, 2005

GUEST REVIEW (by Kim Pallister): LEGO.com Pre-School Games

If there's been one area where I've been remiss to date, it's that I've focused exclusively on individual games, to the exclusion of the many terrific "game-licious" websites for kids, as I ever-so-tantalizingly promised on Line 5 at the very top of the right sidebar.

I've listed many of the best sites further down the aforementioned sidebar (under "Multi-Game Websites for Kids"). Some are TV-channel-based (e.g. Nick Jr., Noggin, PBS Kids, HBO Family, etc.), and others are.....um.....not (e.g. MSN Kidz Games, Box7, National Geographic Kids Games). And I'll try to be more diligent about sprinkling some website reviews around now and again.

But for now, as an experiment of sorts, I'm going to hand over the reins temporarily. I have the pleasure of introducing GameFam's first-ever guest column, by fellow parent, gamer, blogger, and all-around swell guy..........Kim Pallister. **

So without further ado, here is Kim's review of LEGO.com's Preschool Games website:

"Get yer funny for nothing and yer bricks for free"

Finding software for infants and toddlers can be challenging. With their rapid development, the right level of interactivity can be tricky to find.

When first introduced to digital media, kids just want to see things happen before them. Then they'll progress to "click to observe something happen" levels of interactivity, before finally stepping up to choice/consequence levels. Activities requiring timing along with hand-eye coordination are even more advanced. This can be frustrating to those buying software for their kids, only to find that it's too advanced for their level, or that they've outgrown it before starting.

What a relief then, to find that there's a website with a bunch of games for kids to play, all of which are free, and which cater to different levels of advancement.

Lego's Preschooler section of their website offers SIXTEEN free activities for preschoolers. The activities vary in type and complexity, ranging from printable coloring-book type pages to tetris-style minigames.

All parents should be able to find an activity for their preschooler that matches their level of development and tastes. Try "Explore LegoVille" (pictured) for a bustling town where stuff happens when you click on just about anything (my son's favorite is clicking on the sun or moon to change the time of day). For something slightly more advanced "Train Driver" or "Airport Action" for games requiring simple choices to make the stories proceed. If those are still too easy, try "Pony Club Races" or "Brick Buster" for games requiring both choices and timing.

The games are all robustly implemented and we ran into no issues running them. In fact, the only negative thing we have to say is that there is SO MUCH stuff on the site that it requires a little hunting around before finding the games that are right for you. Apart from that, we have no complaints.

Kudos to Lego for offering a ton of fun for kids, and all for a price that's sure to please parents still feeling the sting of Santa's christmas credit card bill.

** Was it just me, or did anyone out there also conjure up the following classic Monty Python sketch in their mind as I was introducing Kim...

Compère: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the refreshment room here at Bletchley. My name is Kenny Lust and I'm your compère for tonight. You know, once in a while it is my pleasure, and my privilege, to welcome here at the refreshment room, some of the truly great international artists of our time. And tonight we have one such artist. Ladies and gentlemen, someone whom I've always personally admired, perhaps more deeply, more strongly, more abjectly than ever before. A man, well, more than a man, a god, a great god, whose personality is so totally and utterly wonderful my feeble words of welcome sound wretchedly and pathetically inadequate. Someone whose boots I would gladly lick clean until holes wore through my tongue, a man who is so totally and utterly wonderful, that I would rather be sealed in a pit of my own filth, than dare tread on the same stage with him. Ladies and gentlemen, the incomparably superior human being, Harry Fink.
Voice Offstage: He can't come!
Kenny Lust: Never mind, it's not all it's cracked up to be.


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