Learning Village Reviews > Educational Software > Thinking > Cluefinders Search

Educational: 4.2
Overall Design: 4.5
Ease of Use: 4.5

(4.0 = good, 4.5 = very
good, 5.0 = excellent)

Search & Solve Adventures

Publisher:  The Learning Company

Learning Areas: Exercises visual pattern recognition, number sequencing, vocabulary skills (specifically identifying synonyms) and a variety of logical (deductive reasoning) skills.

Age Range: 9-14  Grades: 4 through 7

Minimum Reqs:  Windows 95/98/Me/XP or Mac 9.1 - Mac OS X (classic mode) (see detail below)
Pricing and Online Ordering
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Program Description    What The Kids Said    Who Is This Program For
Why We Selected This Program
   Computer Requirements

Program Description:

Cluefinders Search and Solve Adventures is the newest in the Cluefinders series. In this program, you are being challenged to exercise your critical thinking skills in the context of solving a mystery that takes place in a deserted theme park ( "late at night where peculiar things are going on" ). The learning value of this program is focused on developing the types of thinking skills that underlie much of the problem solving required in school related work, especially in the math areas.

As with the other Cluefinders programs, you are presented with a story, in this case starting with a mysterious flashing light in the deserted theme park , and you have to assist the Cluefinder team by directing their activities in order to solve the mystery. In the Search and Solve Adventures, you enter the theme park, where two of the Cluefinder team are suddenly kidnapped and you have to get the electrical power generator to the park back up and running in order to be able to find them. And the story takes many twists and turns thereafter.

This is where the challenge begins. To start the power generator you have to gather four "keys". You earn the keys by playing arcade games that will challenge your thinking skills.

In the cargo area, you have to construct sequences of words that overlap in their spelling sequence (or at a more advanced level, are similar in meaning) in order to win a key. (See top right)

In the bumper car area, (see middle right) you are placing cars on the storage shelves in specific sequences that will fulfill the specific instructions you are given - a real exercise in logical thinking and at the robot arcade (see bottom right), you are matching colours and shapes to follow specific patterns.

The program has a total of 9 different activities that are encountered through the three stages of the mystery and each activity has four levels of difficulty. Lots to work with and a good range of challenge levels in each activity.

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What the Kids said:

I liked the spooky feel to this one and had no idea what was really going on in the story for a long time" - Peter, age 11

" I thought I could beat some of these games pretty easily, but some were a lot harder that I thought and it took me several tries before I was able to start getting the right answers." - Catherine age 10

What I liked was that with some of the word type games, when you increased the difficulty level, the types of problems were very different, than at the easier levels.." - Aaron, age 13

" I was dying to find out what was really going on in this story. There were lots of clues along the way, but it took a long time to see what the real problem was." - Jaime, age14

Who Is This Software Program For:

This program is for children who will be engaged by a good mystery and being engaged will be motivated to beat the challenges of the program's activities. This is both a good program for those who are already logically inclined and as well as for those who could benefit from developing their logical deductive capabilities. The latter will be motivated because they will want to solve the mystery.

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Why We Selected This Program

We selected this program because the mystery is engaging and the design format of the Cluefinders series has proven, once again, to be engaging combination of story telling and problem solving activities. As educators, we saw that the logical thinking skills, engaged by the activities themselves, provide an good range of mental exercise supporting elements of language knowledge and math problem solving . The activities themselves are appropriately challenging for this age range.

Nine or ten year olds may require some hands on assistance. With the four levels of difficulty that the program will automatically adjust to, based on how well you are doing (i.e. the better you perform, the higher the challenge bar will go), the program will still be challenging to older and more able children. You are also able to set the challenge level yourself to find how well you can do at the most challenging level for each activity.

The path to solving the mystery is not a short one so the program provides lots of depth in terms of mental exercise before it has run it's course. Once you have solved the mystery, you will find those that really enjoyed the activities themselves, will return to the program, while others will want to move on. (Some of our testers found some of the activities to be quite "addictive" and were back at it again and again). Whether they return to the program later or not, there is enough depth in the first run through to make this program a good value.

Pricing and Online Ordering
(or call toll free -1-800-250-9229 )
Detailed Computer Requirements

Platform: Win 95/98/Me/XP, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM. Minimum 40 MB of free hard drive space is required.

Platform: Mac Power PC 120 MHz+, System 9.1 - Mac OS X (classic mode), 32 MB RAM (10 MB free disk space), and 4X CD-ROM.

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or to see other thinking and problem solving programs

Reader Rabbit Thinking Adventures - ages 4-6
I Spy School Days - ages 5 - 9
Zoombinis' Logical Journey - ages 9-14
Zoombinis' Island Odyssey - ages 9 -14
Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned For Danger - ages 10/11 - 15