My Virtual Favorite Education Game is “My Virtual Tutor”
For preschool kids to about, say, first or second grade, “My Virtual Tutor” is one of the best examples of what the Nintendo DS can do and be as an education game. There’s all the basic stuff like alphabet-recognition and vocabulary-expansion. It does the basic stuff well, and makes those things fun. But what it does best is utilize the Nintendo DS’s unique interface – its microphone and stylus – like no other education game has done before. It’s exciting for the younger set, and great to watch as a parent.
The basic menu gives your child a number of categories to choose from – different skills to work on: “Quiz,” “Phonics,” and “Books.”
“Books” includes a number of titles to select from, all of which are “playable” in multiple ways. This mode was the big winner, in my “book.” Once the “book” is selected, the game provides a number of options, giving your kid three ways to interact with the story. The first is to have the game read the story out-loud in “read to me” mode. The second education game, called “I can read,” uses the DS’s microphone to record the child reading aloud. It’s a fun mode that has the added benefit and added fun of allowing you child to hear her own voice played back to her. Next, in “explore” mode, the game bounces around within the game, highlighting various sentences for the child to read along with the game. Finally, in a kind of “bonus” mode, “paint” allows the child to use the stylus to draw the story as the game reads aloud the impossible quiz 2.
The next reading tutor is called “Quiz” mode. Here, a number of blocks appear and your child picks a block to turn over a question. Think: a very basic mode of “Jeopardy!” As the child answers questions correctly, the blocks are removed. Once all the blocks disappear, she gets a prize! All of her prizes and records are stored in a kind of “Trophy Case” back in this education game’s main menu.
Finally, the “Phonics” mode is much more basic, but still useful and fun. There are a number of modes that ask you to pick which words rhyme, or which words start with each others’ beginning letters. There are sub-divisions of these games that are the equivalent of “free play” or “challenge” modes, where your child can play without fear of failure, or challenge herself by putting a limit on the number of incorrect answers she can give before the education game is “over.”
There’s also a “Parents” screen within the “Options” menu that lets parents see how their children are progressing within the various games. This screen shows percentages, best times, that sort of thing. It’s not too deep, but a nice little addition to this already great education game, nonetheless.
Overall, My Virtual Tutor is the best education game for the Nintendo DS I’ve found that focuses strictly on reading and writing. If you’re a parent with a child in the pre- or early-elementary school years, you absolutely can’t go wrong with this game. It’s fun, innovative, and above all – teaches reading and writing effectively. Highly recommended!