JumpStart 3D Virtual World Review & Giveaway!

UPDATE: And the winner is .......

NUMBER THREE!!! I don't know your name, but by golly, you left your email address - so the JumpStart subscription is all yours, baby! Congrats! :)

My boys love the computer. In this day and age, I don't think that's a bad thing.

Until they're watching a YouTube tutorial on how to play a Wii game, and it teaches my five-year-old the b-word.


Point is, monitoring every single thing is difficult. What's even more difficult is balancing screen time: I like them to do educational things, while they'd rather watch lovely videos with titles such as "Cat Flushing the Toilet." 

But luckily for us, JumpStart asked me to review their site (and do a giveaway!). I was given a free membership to the site for this purpose. I've reviewed it before, and the kids went nuts. First, the obligatory blurb:

Now on to the review.

When I was little, I used to spend hours going through my grandma's stuff. You know how it's fun to just go through somebody's stuff? I'd sift through her drawers, her cabinets, her garage, whatever, just seeing what cool trinkets and weird stuff (Buffalo nickels! Costume jewelry! Cigar boxes! Old doilies!) I could come up with. There were always cool things to discover.

To me, that's kind of what walking through the JumpStart virtual world is like. There's SO MUCH STUFF! It literally feels like a virtual themepark, so vast it would take days - weeks! - to explore. There are surprises around every corner: secret warp-zones, missions to complete, fun mini-games, or a whole new themed world to take in. Best of all, it solves the education vs. entertainment problem: there are tons of learning opportunities. No matter how old your kids are (my JumpStart players are seven, five, and three), there are plenty of fun, age-appropriate activities that actually teach things like math and reading - plus games to test your memory and foster creativity and things like that.

Kids navigate the JumpStart virtual world with their very own, fully-customizable avatar called a Jumpee. As your Jumpee roams around, you'll see other JumpStart users' Jumpeez roaming around too, in real time. If your kids are old enough, there's also an opportunity to chat with the other Jumpeez. My kids don't use this feature (yet) because they haven't exactly mastered the nuances of a conversation with someone they don't know. (They'd likely type, "Hi" and then ask me what to say next and how to spell it. Over and over. Booooo).

Whether you're waving your wand through the whimsical Windy Hollows, weaving through cacti in Adventure Canyon, training a dragon in the Enchanted Sanctuary, navigating the futuristic landscape of Futureland, or exploring the busy nooks and crannies of Europe or New York City (Times Square! Coney Island!) with familiar friends from the movie Madagascar, there's a ton to see. The graphics are awesome, and each place is so richly interactive that you can jump off walls and cliffs and buildings, climb stairs, run through tunnels, and swim through streams and oceans. Check out some of these screenshots:

See? Awesomeness. And here's a video of one of Colin's favorite places ... the underground Ant Farm at Uncle Milton's Science Land:

It's always changing - with the seasons, with the holidays, or just because there's fun new stuff to be added. I can't imagine anybody ever, ever, EVER getting bored with it because there is literally just an unimaginable amount of ways to explore and - best of all - learn.

... Plus it engages kids so much that it might just give you a chance to have a few minutes alone. To, you know, secretly eat cupcakes finish up some laundry or read a book.

Now, on to the BEST best part: the giveaway! The peeps at JumpStart are letting me give one lucky reader a FREE three-month membership to the JumpStart 3D Virtual World! All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me that this is your favorite blog ever why you'd like to win. I'll randomly select a winner on Wednesday, March 27th. 

IMPORTANT: make sure you leave your email address so I can notify you if you're the big winner! It makes me sad to choose someone and then not be able to contact them. :(

Get to entering! See you around JumpStart!