Sometimes it seems like everything, even for preschoolers, is online these days. But the truth is that there are many wonderful programs for little ones that still come as software on DVDs. Didi & Ditto Preschool ($19.99) from the award winning Canadian company, Kutoka, is just one of those gems. Besides sporting animation as good as any HD movie, it includes a slew of engaging characters that are sure to delight any 2-to-4 year old.
As kids learn early on, every drama has a villain, and in this tale it seems Zolt, a wolfish-like character, has failed to be elected mayor of a woodland band of creatures and decides to ruin the shindig the creatures are planning for Mother Nature as revenge. He steals all the food the animals have made and wrecks the musical instruments band members have constructed for the concert that is supposed to be part of the festivities.
As you can imagine, this is where kids come into the picture. After choosing to play with either Didi (the girl) or Ditto (the boy) - both beavers - kids make their way to various stops in the forest where they play games to either earn food items for the party or repair the instruments. An assortment of pre-school skills are practiced along the way ranging from recognizing letters and learning the alphabet to counting and identifying shapes. Observation skills are a large part of many of the games, as is memory development, with some environmental science and healthy eating information thrown in along the way.
The activities are fun, fast-paced, and offered at three different levels so kids can go back and try them again, and the characters are very engaging along the way. One of the best features of the game is that kids have the option to listen to all the songs and discussions of the plot along the way, or use the space bar to move the action along. If I had one major criticism of this program, it would be that it is a little long winded at times, but pressing that space bar can get the action back on track and kids seems to discover this feature very quickly. The real elected major of the woodland, a little owl, can make objects, including himself, appear and disappear in a puff of smoke. This is a handy power to have as he pops in hauling off the loot users have accumulated, also keeping the game moving along.
There is a special sweetness about the characters kids encounter along the way in this game and this also seems to spur them on to being helpful - one of the most endearing qualities of the preschool age group anyway.
Didi & Ditto Preschool is only one of the many quality titles that Kutoka has to offer and, if you want to get your kids away from many of the toy and brand-name carryovers that monopolize games for kids offered online, I suggest you take a look at the catalog of good solid games and utilities for kids that they offer. It is well worth spending a little bit (average Kutoka price is $20-25) to remove them from the Madison Avenue bombardment aimed even at the very youngest consumers. They will also travel with some of the sweetest and funniest characters as they practice the skills they'll need for school. Also check out the Kindergarten and First Grade versions of this game as well.