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March 2005

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This chapter is from the book

The V-Smile: Training the Gamers of Tomorrow

As a parent, I want to introduce my daughter to fun and educational games whenever I can. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of kids’ games available for the PC, but they vary in quality and they still have to be fun for a youngster or boredom sets in.

Thankfully, there’s the V-Smile from VTech. This wondrous console is designed specifically for kids from 3–7 years old. It hooks up to your TV just like a regular game console. It comes with one enlarged gamepad with a huge button so that little ones have no trouble manipulating it.

Before getting into the games themselves it’s important to note that some of them, although they do help in learning numbers and shapes, also help teach gamepad skill. For a gaming parent, it’s the best of both worlds.

Games for the V-Smile

By the end of 2005, there should be no fewer than 25 games for the system. I can attest to some of the games personally because my daughter plays the V-Smile at least three times a week and even at $20 a pop, they’re well worth it.

The Lion King: Simba’s Big Adventure. This game is a platform jumper that also helps kids learn how to count, differentiate shapes, and recognize colors. It even has some basic spelling tools. To play, you guide little Simba through the jungle in a multitude of different mini games.

Care Bears: A Lesson in Caring. This should be the first game your child plays as it’s by far the easiest of the games for the 3–5 age groups. You get to control each of the Care Bears as they try to find out the definition of what caring means. It helps with spelling and letter recognition as well as identifying shapes.

Winnie the Pooh: The Honey Hunt. My daughter’s favorite game, this colorful platform adventure teaches numbers and shapes, and has memory games and other goodies for those too young to read. If your child is a Pooh fan, he or she will absolutely love this.

Alphabet Park Adventure. This game is pretty tough for youngsters in the 3–5 age range. This is also the game that comes with the V-Smile system, so if you’re going to buy the system, I advise picking up one of the previously mentioned games to go along with it.

Games for Older Kids

When your child graduates from the preschool-level games, there are others available that are more advanced that focus on math and reading and problem solving. Children aged 4–6 can play games using Spider-Man, Little Red Riding Hood, and Ariel the Little Mermaid.

The beauty of the V-Smile is that kids love playing the games, but they really do get educational benefits out of it and not just better gamepad reflexes. All the games are nonviolent and kid friendly. For parents who have no idea what "real" games to get a young child, the V-Smile is a great alternative.

Based in Hong Kong, VTech, the company that produces the V-Smile, was founded way back in 1976 and is one of the world’s largest cordless telephone companies.

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