JumpStart is a series of educational games produced by Knowledge Adventure. The series is distributed as Jump Ahead in the United Kingdom. Though the series primarily consists of educational PC games, other products, such as workbooks and videos, have been produced, as well as a handful of games for other video game consoles.
Games in the JumpStart series are designed for a variety of ages, from infancy through preadolescence. The different games can vary drastically, but generally incorporate a storyline or adventure, different activities and games meant to exercise skills of a certain age range or subject, some kind of goal, and a printable progress report.
As in the Learning Company's Reader Rabbit/The ClueFinders series, there is a clear divide between the products for second and third grade. The games for second grade and under typically feature anthropomorphic animals in bright, colorful settings, while the games for third grade and over feature principally human characters, with a villainous character who must be thwarted, in considerably less colorful settings. Though the divide is quite evident, there is some overlap, especially in the games for second and third graders. Additionally, villainous characters sometimes appear in games for second grade and under (such as Dr. O in JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade).
Originally, each grade level had its own character or set of characters. For example, in games for preschoolers and pre-kindergarteners, Casey Cat, Pierre Polar Bear, Kisha Koala and Eleanor Elephant were featured, while in games for kindergarteners, Mr. Hopsalot the rabbit was featured. This seemed to have changed, probably in the early 2000s, and characters began to appear in games that were not directed to their original grade level. There is still some traces of the grade level system, however; for example, C.J. Frog and Edison Firefly were originally second grade characters, and in JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade, they are prominent, though characters from other grade levels do appear.
The original JumpStart games were created between 1994 and 1998 with a few upgrades. In 2000, all games were given new covers and a second disc. In 2002, most of the games were changed and given the title "JumpStart Advanced". In 2003, all JumpStart Advanced products were given 3 discs and in 2007, 4 discs.
The JumpStart Advanced packages could be considered to be the games officially included in the series. They are grade-based and range from toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1-6, with grades 4-6 bundled in one package. The first products to be called JumpStart Advanced were created in 2002; they ranged from Preschool to 2nd Grade and were intended to replace the previous versions of the games. Since then, bonus discs have been added, and the games for toddlers and grades 3-6 have been renamed and sold as JumpStart Advanced packages as well. Currently, all the games from toddlers-3rd grade contain 4 discs, with the 4th-6th grade package containing a total of 5 discs. The "Fundamentals" disc in the Preschool-2nd Grade packages is the JumpStart Advanced game that was released in 2002 (though it should be noted that some JumpStart Advanced packages have a factory error, meaning that they contain JumpStart 3D Virtual World games under the Fundamentals name).
- JumpStart Advanced Toddlers package
- Disc One - Discovery Time
- Disc Two - Explore & Learn Time
- Disc Three - School Time
- Disc Four - Sing-Along Time
- JumpStart Advanced Preschool package
- Disc One - Fundamentals (originally JumpStart Advanced Preschool - JumpStart 3D Virtual World: My First Adventure in the error packages)
- Disc Two - Language Club (JumpStart Languages)
- Disc Three - Art for Fun
- Disc Four - Explore & Learn (JumpStart Preschool 1995 version)
- JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten package
- Disc One - Fundamentals (originally JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten - JumpStart 3D Virtual World: The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin in the error packages)
- Disc Two - Animal Field Trip (JumpStart Animal Adventures)
- Disc Three - Arts and Crafts
- Disc Four – Pet Playground (Kid Keys in the error packages)
- JumpStart Advanced 1st Grade package
- Disc One - Fundamentals (originally JumpStart Advanced 1st Grade - JumpStart 3D Virtual World: Trouble in Town in the error packages)
- Disc Two - Music (JumpStart Music, a.k.a. JumpStart Learning Games: Music)
- Disc Three - Art Club
- Disc Four - Pet Playground (Kid Keys in the error packages)
- JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade package
- Disc One - Fundamentals (originally JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade - JumpStart 3D Virtual World: The Quest for the Color Meister in the error packages)
- Disc Two - Field Trip Adventure (Around the World, 2nd Grade version)
- Disc Three - Mystery Club Vol. 1
- Disc Four - Pet Playground (Kid Keys in the error packages)
- JumpStart Advanced 3rd Grade package
- Disc One - Fundamentals (JumpStart Adventures 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain)
- Disc Two - Far-Out Field Trips (Adventure Challenge, 3rd Grade version)
- Disc Three - Mystery Club Vol. 2
- Disc Four - Language Arts Challenge
- JumpStart Advanced 4th-6th Grade package
- Disc One - 4th Grade Fundamentals (JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Sapphire Falls)
- Disc Two - 5th Grade Fundamentals (JumpStart Adventures 5th Grade: Jo Hammet, Kid Detective)
- Disc Three – 6th Grade Fundamentals (JumpStart Adventures 6th Grade: Mission Earthquest)
- Disc Four – Math & Science Challenge
- Disc Five - Language Arts Challenge
A "spin-off" for the JumpStart Advanced games, JumpStart Advanced Study Helpers, was also created. It includes JumpStart Study Helpers Math Booster and its sister game, JumpStart Study Helpers Spelling Bee.
In the original 2002 versions of the JumpStart Advanced Preschool-2nd Grade products, there is a feature known as the "All-Stars". The backbone of the feature is seven different "learning styles"; supposedly, one is how the player learns best. Once the user first types in his name on the sign-in menu, a screen appears featuring all of the JumpStart characters for second grade and under in 3D with the exception of Edison Firefly who flies under the characters and is in 2D and does not have his own learning style, but instead is a button that is pressed when the user is done answering a question. From there, the player can either click on any character to use it as his learning style or can take a quiz (a kind of personality quiz) to find out his appropriate learning style. As much as 3 answers can be chosen for each question. Usually, when the player plays an educational activity or game, a star will appear in the corner of the screen. When clicked, a sort of walkie-talkie pops up with buttons for all seven of the characters that represent a learning style. The one selected by the player or the learning quiz at the start will be selected first, though other characters can be clicked. The characters will give tips on the subject being practiced in the game based on their learning style (for example, Kisha Koala is "the artist" and teaches using pictures). Some arrow buttons may be used to scroll through skills so other subjects can be learned about. An online version is available here, though there are a few differences (for example, in the online version, the characters are in 2D graphics and it seems to be aimed towards the parent, not the student. Also, two learning styles are chosen in the end). In JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade, the characters in the All-Stars wear sunglasses, but otherwise resemble their appearances in the other JumpStart Advanced games.
Below is a list of each character/learning style in All-Stars. Each character has a sort of title, such as "team leader" or "scientist".
Casey, the athlete: A cat who first appeared in JumpStart Preschool. In order to teach students, Casey often uses sports-related examples and sometimes jumps a certain amount of times to convey something. In the online quiz, if Casey is chosen as the student's learning style, it will say he teaches using bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. If the "Learn more about Casey" link is clicked, Casey will be described as a ball of energy who loves sports and attention and hates growing up.
C.J., the scientist: A frog who first appeared in JumpStart 2nd Grade. C.J. teaches using science and nature related examples and situations. In the online quiz, if C.J. is chosen as the student's learning style, it will say he teaches using naturalistic intelligence and is good at observing. If the "Learn more about C.J." link is clicked, C.J. is said to be fearless and to love adventure, mysteries and challenges. He is also said to secretly desire to be an international spy when he grows up.
Eleanor, the reader: An elephant who first appeared in JumpStart Preschool whose tips are language arts and reading related. In the online quiz, if Eleanor is chosen as the student's learning style, it will say she teaches using linguistic intelligence. If the "Learn more about Eleanor" link is clicked, Eleanor is said to often write, act in plays, dance, and talk. She is also noted to collect quotations, facts, and trivia and to own a tattered journal. She wants to be a famous writer someday.
Frankie, the team leader: A dog who first appeared in JumpStart 1st Grade. Despite being called "the team leader", the tips he gives have little or nothing to do with leadership. Instead, he uses people and real-life situations as examples. In the online quiz, if Frankie is chosen as the student's learning style, it will say he teaches using interpersonal intelligence. If the "Learn more about Frankie" link is clicked, it says that he tries to be a friend to everybody, sometimes gets nosy a bit too often but tries to find a peaceful solution, and would enjoy running for office upon growing up if there's enough bones and chew toys. His shirt in the All-Stars is different than the one he wears in the actual JumpStart Advanced games, as it has blue stripes and designs absent elsewhere.
Hopsalot, the math whiz: A rabbit who first appeared in JumpStart Kindergarten. His tips seem to be more straightforward than the tips of other characters. The online quiz says that Hopsalot uses numbers, logic, and problem solving to teach. In the online quiz, if Hopsalot is chosen as the student's learning style, it will say he teaches using logical-mathematical intelligence. If the "Learn more about Hopsalot" link is clicked, Hopsalot is described as a genius who frequently invents gadgets, solves problems, and improves his vedgetable garden.
Kisha, the artist: A koala who first appeared in JumpStart Preschool, Kisha uses pictures to teach. In the online quiz, if Kisha is chosen as the student's learning style, it will say she teaches using visual-spatial intelligence. If the "Learn more about Kisha" link is clicked, it says that Kisha is a sage and a philosopher as well as an artist. It also mentions that the only thing that she is really uptight about is a particular clumsy bear and curious cat that, supposedly, ruin her masterpieces. This is probably referring to Pierre and Casey.
Pierre, the musician: A polar bear who first appeared in JumpStart Preschool, Pierre uses music, songs, and sounds in his tips. In the online quiz, if Pierre is chosen as the student's learning style, it will say she teaches using musical intelligence. If the "Learn more about Pierre" link is clicked, Pierre is said to love playing - both music and games. He is noted to find following instructions hard unless they are presented in a fun way.
Other JumpStart Games
JumpStart has also created games based on subjects rather than grade levels, as well as a total of 6 games which are based on both. Below is a list of such games, roughly in order of creation.
JumpStart Reading for First Graders (originally JumpStart 1st Grade Reading - teaches language arts to children of the first grade level)
JumpStart Math for Second Graders (originally JumpStart 2nd Grade Math - teaches mathematics to children of the second grade level)
JumpStart Spanish (teaches the Spanish language)
JumpStart Typing (teaches quick keyboard use)
JumpStart Math for Kindergarteners (teaches mathematics to kindergarten children)
JumpStart Reading for Second Graders (teaches language arts to children of the second grade level)
JumpStart Numbers (teaches mathematics for preschool-3rd grade)
JumpStart Spelling (teaches spelling for preschool-3rd grade)
JumpStart Music (teaches music-related skills for preschool-3rd grade - later included as a bonus disc with JumpStart Advanced 1st Grade)
JumpStart Phonics (teaches phonics - updated significantly in later years, and later replaced by JumpStart Phonics Read & Rhyme)
JumpStart ABC's (teaches the English alphabet)
JumpStart Animal Adventures (teaches simple zoology - later renamed Animal Field Trip and included as a bonus disc with JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten)
JumpStart Explorers (teaches mainly history, but also teaches a few other skills, such as following directions)
JumpStart Artist (teaches art history, creativity, facts about art, and following directions)
JumpStart Study Helpers Spelling Bee (teaches spelling; later included with JumpStart Advanced Study Helpers)
JumpStart Study Helpers Math Booster (teaches mathematics; later included with JumpStart Advanced Study Helpers)
JumpStart Phonics Read & Rhyme (originally JumpStart Reading with Karaoke - a replacement for JumpStart Phonics that teaches the same skills)
There have been a few JumpStart games which have been based on neither subject or grade level; JumpStart SpyMasters: Unmask the Prankster, JumpStart Spy Masters: Max Strikes Back, and JumpStart 3D Virtual World (though 3D Virtual World was originally grade-based).
Although JumpStart was originally a series of personal computer games, other educational products have been produced under the JumpStart name. For example, a large collection of books (with the majority being workbooks) have been created via Knowledge Adventure and Scholastic joining up. They have been manufactured for 4 grade levels: Pre-K, Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. The workbooks feature characters from the particular grade level, though another kind of JumpStart book, "JumpStart Readers" (storybooks intended to teach reading skills) sometimes feature characters from other grade levels. The workbooks also feature a sticker reward system and offer "tips".
There have so far been four JumpStart games for systems aside from the PC; JumpStart Dino Adventure, a game for the Game Boy Color, JumpStart Wildlife Safari, a game for the PlayStation, JumpStart: Escape from Adventure Island for the Wii, and JumpStart Pet Rescue, a game for the Wii.
JumpStart DVD games, known as "iDVDs", have also been made by Knowledge Adventure.