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 Computing With Kids

 Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005
 Best Pick Award Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005
Published on September 17th, 2004
 5 Stars

Encarta comes in either DVD or CD-ROM format Year after year, Microsoft’s Encarta Reference Library has been a top-notch digital encyclopedic suite for families with children in middle school and above. This year’s edition, Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005, is no different. It includes more than 68,000 articles, 26,000 photos and illustrations, 400 videos, 3000 sound and music clips, and 1.8 million map locations. What’s more, this year’s suite adds a new component, Encarta Kids, that will appeal to families with children as young as 7 years of age. Here’s a closer look at Encarta Kids and two other new family-friendly features in this 2005 edition.

Encarta Kids

Encarta Kids offers more than 500 articles written especially for kids ages 7-12. More than 2500 pieces of multimedia accompany the articles, including videos, photos, animations, and interactive games and activities.

The main Encarta Kids page In addition to the traditional search bar at the top of the page, children also find 10 categories boldly displayed on the main Encarta Kids page. These starting points cover categories called Animals, Science, Sports and Recreation, The Arts, Reading and Writing, People, Places, History, Social Studies, and Games and Fun Stuff. Clicking a category leads to subcategories, which in turn leads to thumbnail graphics presenting more options. For example, if a child clicks on Animals, she will then see eight subcategories including “Kinds of Animals” which, when clicked, reveals 51 thumbnail pictures.

The thumbnails introduce child-appropriate articles or games. Under “Kinds of Animals,” the “Speedy Creatures” thumbnail opens a game in which players try to match 12 animal pictures to traffic signs representing the animals’ speeds. Kid-testers discovered that an eagle diving for prey can reach 120 miles per hour, while a sloth’s top speed is only 1.2 miles per hour.

Encarta Kids features extra large type sizes, bright colors, and loads of multimedia. It anticipates children’s misspellings in helping to guide them to the desired content. The games are fun and informative, although somewhat repetitive in their format.

Encarta Kids is an exciting addition to an already outstanding encyclopedia suite. However, it could have been better. Since it is for young children, it should have more content that can be read out loud. Also, while the articles are easier to read than those found in Encarta Encyclopedia, they contain words that some kids don’t know. Unlike other sections of Encarta, kids can’t click on a difficult word to have it defined in the suite’s integrated dictionary.

Online Math Homework Help found in Encarta 2005 New Math Help for Teens

Through a content partnership with the excellent “Hotmath.com” website, Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 adds “Online Math Homework Help.” By launching Encarta’s “Online Math Homework Help,” kids seeking help in Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Advanced Algebra, and Geometry can find step-by-step solutions to problems similar to those in their homework. Teens find their textbook and then select the page and problem number with which they are having difficulty. The site offers similar problems and solutions so that teenagers can learn how to do their specific homework problems.

Encarta Search Bar

For the first time, this 2005 edition adds a special search bar to the Windows taskbar. Any time kids need to research, all they have to do is type in a word or phrase on the ever-present Encarta Search Bar. They can even direct the search to Encarta Encyclopedia, Encarta Dictionary, Encarta Thesaurus, or Encarta Kids. The requested reference will open and return a search result for the requested item.

Purchase Links
»  Available at Amazon.com

The Bottom Line
The addition of the new Encarta Kids section makes this already outstanding digital encyclopedia suite even better. It is now a reference that will appeal to everyone from kids as young as 7 to adults as old as 100.

Age  7 - 99 Platform  Windows
Price  $69.99 Category  Reference
Grade  1 - 12 ISBN 
Company  Microsoft

All software is judged on a five star scale by looking at the following five factors: educational, fun, ease of use, value, technical.

Jinny Gudmundsen is the Editor of Computing With Kids magazine. If you have questions or comments, please write to: .