The Treehouse is a game intended as a supplement to first and second grade learning. As such, it does its job fairly well. It can also be used to prepare children for some of the concepts and skills they will need in first and second grade, as long as a parent helps the child a bit.
Inside The Treehouse are seven games and activities. There is also some amusing animation built into the area that the player can find simply by clicking around the screen.
To the right, players will start at a keyboard. Clicking on the keyboard brings players to The Music Studio where there are 13 songs on the page, labeled "Treehouse Songs." Players can choose one of the songs, click "okay" and go to the keyboard screen. Here, they can click to play the song, change the tempo, beat and musical instrument or attempt to play the song themselves on the keyboard, which has clearly-labeled keys. Songs that players modify can be saved and show up on the "My Songs" page.
Next is "Lloyd's Lab". Clicking here will bring up a blackboard where Lloyd shows the player fun science experiments they can try at home. Players can make their own lemon soda, find a fun way to foam at the mouth, make pepper vamoose and try out many more activities. The book labeled "Fascinating Facts" brings up a series of facts about animals, our planet and other subjects, all illustrated with an amusing animation. Lloyd narrates the fact and will repeat it if the player clicks on the words
Clicking on the map over the staircase takes players to the "Treasure Quest" game. Players can play either against Casey or another friend. Players must acquire a certain amount of money to dig up pirate booty. In the Easy game, players must make 50 cents. The amount rises to a dollar in the intermediate game and five dollars in the hard mode. Players must maneuver around the ever-changing game board, amassing money and avoiding the spaces with the Jolly Roger on it. If players win, they get to choose a treasure for the shelves in the treehouse.
Clicking on the stairs takes players to the Bug Theatre. Players can select a bug character, an action, a place and a time or pull the handle to choose randomly. From these choices, words appear from which the player try to make a correctly structured sentence. If it is in the correct order, Lloyd will repeat the sentence twice and the bug will do a funny animation.
Finally, clicking on the dark cave will take players to the animal backyard. Players can click and drag an animal to its place on the screen and see it move about in an animation sequence. They can also change the screen to night or any one of three different backgrounds.
From here, they can click on the green-striped box to move into the "What's my Animal?" game show. Players are shown ten different animals and must choose the correct one by using the various clues that appear at the side of the screen. When players have eliminated an animal, they click on the box in the top right-hand corner to dim it. Players can either make a guess or take a clue, but not both. They can also click on the animals to see their attributes (number of legs, how it breathes, does it have wings, etc.) If players are able to guess five animals correctly before Casey, they can take home a prize to add to those at The Treehouse.
Each game in this program teaches a wide variety of skills from word recognition and counting to coin value and logical thinking. These are shown on the back of the manual and on the box itself. Also included is a parents' section in the user's guide that shows how to expand on the games and activities included on the CD and provides a list of educational resources as well.
The one thing I felt this game lacked was feedback for the parents in showing how well the child was doing in each activity. The difficulty can only be set in the "What's my Animal?" and "Treasure Quest" games and that must be done manually. There is no other way for parents to gauge the progress of their child other than sitting down with the child and watching.
Graphics: Very nice. The animals in the Backyard and the "What's my Animal?" game are particularly well-done.
Sound: Clear and just loud enough that it won't overpower young children.
Enjoyment: Every child will find at least one thing to enjoy in this game and maybe even more than one.
Replay Value: Good for at least two years of activity, simply by increasing the difficulty of the games.
The Treehouse is an educational title that is set in the location of a children's treehouse. This game teaches toddlers numbers, shapes, letters as well as having a special focus on learning about animals, through various activities associated with items located throughout the treehouse. Clicking on any item in the treehouse will start an activity, or, at least begin an animation.
The game is the second in what became a trilogy of games including the first game The Playroom and finished with the third title, The Backyard.
People who downloaded Treehouse, The have also downloaded:
Playroom, The, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, Reader Rabbit and Friends: Let's Start Learning, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? CD-ROM, EcoQuest 2: Lost Secret of the Rainforest, Mixed-Up Mother Goose Deluxe, Lost Mind of Dr. Brain, The, Reader Rabbit's Kindergarten
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