Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 20 Platinum

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 20 Platinum

Spring 2008 Software
Ages: 8 & Up
Price: $29.99
Platform: Windows/MAC
Review:
Whoever said sequels are never better than the previous sequel, and the sequel before that? Well, animated typing-instructor Mavis Beacon has been teaching how to pound the keys the right way for two decades now and her twentieth try isn't just another tweaked version. It's a new-and-improved Mavis, from the jazzier animation to a brand-new interface and even new splashier features. But, above all, it remains a rock-solid, methodical, approach to learning your touch-typing way around a keyboard. Start out by setting your typing-speed goal and taking the skills test. Mavis will automatically place you on the appropriate path for your abilities and track your progress. But Mavis has always done that.

So what's new? There's the helpful new "curriculum map" for those of us who want an easy visual of how we're doing--or how far we still have to go to be the best keyboarders we can be. And, yes, Mavis mostly just redesigned a bunch of old typing arcade-like games, such as Cameleon Picnic, Space Junk and Check Out Time-the feature always a stalwart of this series enabling videogame-brained students to put their new typing skills to test in a fun and familiar way. But there are two new game additions-Bubblepop, in which lettered bubbles come at you so fast you'll go back to a practice lesson, and Rockslide, a fun Tetrus-like boulder-accumulating challenge requiring a quick touch.

The practice texts, for polishing your skills, include hundreds of passages from literature, autobiographies (we practiced on the lives of Ben Franklin and Charles Darwin), recipes (chose oatmeal cookies and apple pie), and even informative pieces of history as the portions of the U.S. Constitution and Richard Nixon's First Inaugural Address. Add those Wikipedia passages and you could actually learn something besides typing! Even practice in Spanish or French!

Breaking that hunt-and-peck habit can be a big yawn for most of us, even with this software's enjoyable diversions. But wait! You can even set the background music to your own beat-rock, jazz, blues, classical, hip-hop, etc., or import your own MP3 tunes. Bottom line: If you stick with this program and keep your forehead off the keyboard, you will learn to type better-which is precisely the reason to buy this product.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Riverdeep Inc. LLC
http://wwwbroderbund.com
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Broderbund Software
http://www.broderbund.com
Riverdeep/The Learning Company
800-223-6925
http://www.learningcompany.com/

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