The Treehouse. (educational software) (evaluation)
by Beth Ann Murray
Once your child encounters The Treehouse, Br0derbund Software's excellent followup to the award-winning Playroom, the fun and learning start right away. An interactive chalkboard boasts six-color click-and-drag drawing capability. A small clock tells time. But besides these surprises, you get four detailed games.
Unlike anything else for kids, Treehouse's music synthesizer screen displays an orchestra pit with illustrations and simple descriptions of the instruments. The program also plays a sample note from each instrument. But this is no simple playback machine. It's truly interactive and inspired. Children can store songs in a song-book and print them out, look at a few notes, or read two lines of music. They can choose which instrument will play their music, with such exotic choices as bottles and kazoos. Best of all, children can write music by selecting note and rest length and then clicking on a piano key.
In addition, Treehouse includes a very clever music maze game that plays simple musical phrases (two or three notes) and then requires you to pick the correct one out of four options. A correct choice earns a note, and completion of the maze is rewarded with a song.
Another Treehouse game teaches counting, with chips or cash as options. The third part consists of an animal guessing game, which teaches deductive reasoning, and an animated puppet theater that encourages storytelling. All of the games boast excellent graphics and sound. The synthesized music especially is very true to life, provided you have an Ad Lib or Sound Blaster card.
The Treehouse should be on store shelves by early autumn. Get your copy before the leaves begin to fall.