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Author Topic: Awesome software for kids  (Read 3032 times)

ayryq

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Awesome software for kids
« on: June 02, 2015, 12:48:40 PM »
When I got my first home computer in 1995, it was a Packard Bell with this awesome "CD-ROM" drive. To show off the capabilities that having a CD-ROM drive added, it came with a bundle of software:
Knowledge Adventure "3D Body Adventure"
Knowledge Adventure "3D Dinosaur
Knowledge Adventure "Space Adventure"
Knowledge Adventure "Undersea Adventure"
Megarace - remember Lance Boyle?
And some other stuff, I think an Atlas and an Encyclopedia (Grolier, maybe?)

I remember how engaging those 3D, full video, CD-ROM adventures were when I was in 8th grade. Recently I shopped for software for my kids, and I found things like this (which is actually pretty good, but is 2D cartoons, predominately). I'm not finding anything that would live up to my (admittedly, 20-year-old) memories of those bundled software. Maybe some of it was the novelty of having a home computer, and having actual video and sound, but I don't see that there is any of this single-subject, rich, engaging, educational software on the market now. (There's still a market for schools, with things like Math Blaster, typing tutor, and would you believe Stickybear still exists?)

Steam certainly doesn't have much; if you look at the tag "Education" you get, for example, Kerbal Space Program and Rocksmith.

Are there small publishers that I'm overlooking?

What about those atlas and encyclopedia programs? I don't think Google Earth (as cool as it is) quite substitutes for a well-designed multimedia atlas. And likewise Wikipedia pales somewhat as a learning experience compared to Encarta. I recently dug out my CD-ROM of "The Way Things Work" — the one with all the mammoths — and had to load VirtualBox to get it to even run.

Anyone else remember these programs from what I might start calling the "golden age" of PC applications?

kunkel321

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 11:06:05 AM »
Biodigital Human
https://human.biodigital.com/signin.html
Is pretty cool.  Warning for kids though...  Contains penis, etc. 

ayryq

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 11:08:49 AM »
Contains penis, etc. 

So do my kids  :)

kunkel321

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 08:21:21 PM »
Well there's vagina's too....   So y'know.  Be careful.   :P

ayryq

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 09:09:19 PM »
Wow, this isn't where I imagined this thread going when I started it.

So, megarace?

Renegade

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2015, 12:38:39 AM »
Wow, this isn't where I imagined this thread going when I started it.

Heh. Very! Way out of orbit and far past Uranus. :P

As for kids' software, there are truckloads of developers out there with LOTS of it. I wouldn't even know where to begin. My wife has her tablet loaded up with games and educational software for our little one.

There are a few large companies with kids' software as well. Fisher-Price has some good stuff.
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mouser

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2015, 08:02:26 AM »
Finding good software for kids is important -- i hope this thread gets back on track and can make some good recommendations!

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2015, 08:56:23 AM »

The Last Ludum Dare had an interesting game about mythpology that could be cool for kids.

"Kids software" doesn't have to have that "stripped and sterile" look to it!

If I get the mood I might do one of my writeups on that if I can find it again, for this thread.


ayryq

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2015, 09:01:20 AM »
As for kids' software, there are truckloads of developers out there with LOTS of it. I wouldn't even know where to begin. My wife has her tablet loaded up with games and educational software for our little one.

There are a few large companies with kids' software as well. Fisher-Price has some good stuff.

We have some good stuff on tablets, but it's mostly in a style, format, and depth that was state-of-the-art in 1995. And the number of programs for Windows PCs is much (much) smaller, and also harder to find.

Those CD-ROMs I mentioned were made for kids, they were state-of-the-art, and they fully used the capabilities of the modern PC (in 1999).

x16wda

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2015, 09:17:45 AM »
It's not a game per se, but I have spent a fair amount of time with my boy running Stellarium. We'll go out and look at the sky and then come back in and figure out what we saw. For example, we figured out recently that we were seeing both Venus and Jupiter in the west in the evenings. And we always look for Cassiopeia. (Sam has always said W is his favorite letter!)
vi vi vi - editor of the beast

ayryq

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2015, 10:21:35 AM »
I started looking for shops marketing to schools - found this site, for example: http://www.childrenssoftwareonline.com
Looks like a good way to see how old a software is is to see what Windows versions it supports. They sell a lot of Dorling Kindersley titles which purport to support Vista, for example. (DK made The Way Things Work that I mentioned earlier.) Of course, http://www.dorlingki...dersleysoftware.com/ is a parked domain now. There's a lot of stuff by Arc Media which look cool but explicitly say they do not work on 64-bit Windows.

Renegade

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2015, 12:10:46 PM »
And the number of programs for Windows PCs is much (much) smaller, and also harder to find.

That and...

Of course, http://www.dorlingki...dersleysoftware.com/ is a parked domain now.

...that go hand in hand.

What is really needed now is an Android (or other mobile OS) emulator for Windows/PickSomeDesktopOS.

The desktop is near dead for "users" -- they are all on smart phones and tablets now.

If you do continue to search, try looking for "abandonware" to see if there's much in the kids' department there.

But I wouldn't expect much in the way of variety to emerge on a desktop OS. The desktop is now only a productivity tool, and not for casual computing. I'm speaking from a developer's perspective there and looking at where the real market is and where a developer can make a living.



We have a truckload of different apps on my wife's tablet for our daughter, and she picks what she wants to do. She particularly likes ones with nice music and vocabulary apps.

But a vocabulary app is drop dead simple to make. Like, stupid simple. There are quite a few out there.

What would be nice is some kind of an app designer for vocab (or similar) where you can customise the content. That's a bit of work, but not much beyond the basic app.



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ayryq

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Re: Awesome software for kids
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2015, 03:05:57 PM »
The desktop is near dead for "users" -- they are all on smart phones and tablets now.


But I wouldn't expect much in the way of variety to emerge on a desktop OS. The desktop is now only a productivity tool, and not for casual computing.

I don't know what to say to that. I guess,
  • You're probably right, and
  • that sucks.

The capabilities of a desktop (or laptop) computer will always exceed those of a tablet (until those two categories finally merge...) and the only thing making use of it is games (for grown-ups). What I'm looking for here are not games.


We have a truckload of different apps on my wife's tablet for our daughter, and she picks what she wants to do. She particularly likes ones with nice music and vocabulary apps.

But a vocabulary app is drop dead simple to make. Like, stupid simple. There are quite a few out there.

I think the categories I'd be most interested in would be Science/STEM, History and Geography. Categories that lend themselves to higher-budget, deeper, more immersive treatment. My kids like the "apps" (aside: This is "short" for application not only in name but in fact) but they mostly look like they were made "drop dead simple" in some successor to Macromedia Flash. I wonder what Science centers are buying for their kiosks?