Last in Brøderbund's superb trilogy of edutainment titles, The Backyard lives up to the high standards set by The Playroom and The Treehouse, also designed by Leslie Grimm.
Designed for kids aged 3 to 6, The Backyard offers 6 main activities to teach kids about animals, as well as other basic skills for toddlers. In Scarecrow Faces, kids can make a face out of different body parts. This activity teaches kids to associate facial expressions with words that represent them. In the Sandbox Treasure game, kids are given a map, a crane, various obstacles, and an X which marks the spot. The objective here is to use the arrow buttons to move the crane in order to find and dig up the treasure. This is a great way to teach kids basic directions. Kids can even create their own maps, which makes it ideal for two kids to play with each other: one draws the map for the other to play. The third activity is the Animal Habitat Sticker Book. Here, the objective is to place the appropriate animal into the correct habitat. This teaches kids the various geographic locations around the world, as well as animals that are common to each region.
The fourth game is the Pumpkin Patch game, which is very similar to the Scarecrow Faces. Next comes the Animal Cookies game, my favorite activity. Here, kids must attach the missing animal body parts to the appropriate portions of the body that are presented on the screen. The final activity in the game is the Knothole game, which plays a bit like the board game of Snakes & Ladders: kids move to various spaces around the game board in order to collect body parts that will complete the body of their assigned animal. The game can be played with another human player, or a computer opponent.
In addition to 6 main games, The Backyard is chock full of other smaller activities and neat animations that will keep kids glued to the screen. There is a tic-tac-toe game, a fence that plays music when touched, and a plane that can be flown with the mouse. Every game is nicely designed, with an intuitive interface, pleasant graphics, and no time constraints. The difficulty level is near-perfect for the age group, which means that kids won't be frustrated or think the games are too easy. Definitely one of the best edutainment titles you are likely to find for your 3-6 years old, whether they are boys or girls. Highly recommended. Reviewed by: Underdogs