- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 24, 2001

Two words usually not associated with each other in the brain of a child "school" and "fun" have been combined to form a cyber-stop that may provide a new perspective on learning.

Funschool.com has spent four years developing a progressive curriculum of educational activities based on the simple premise that children love games, and games can teach.


Site address: www.funschool.com


Funschool.com was founded in 1996 by Sashi Boinapalli, a software engineering executive formerly with Sun Microsystems and Veritas Software. He has three young children.

Creator quotable:

"We created this site to provide quality educational games on the Internet for children all over the world," Mr. Boinapalli says. "By communicating educational concepts in a safe, interactive and entertaining way, Funschool.com makes learning fun. Kids love playing the cool games, while parents and teachers love the fact that the children are developing their skills at the same time. We call it 'overt fun, covert education."

Word from the Webwise:

Along with providing another reason to upgrade slower Internet connections to cable modems and DSL service, this site also provides a seemingly endless stream of activities to make the educational experience exciting.

Visitors with traditional modem connections will need to practice the fine art of patience. More than 800 possibilities combine sound, animated characters and school disciplines to appeal to children in preschool through sixth grade.

Even the most difficult-to-please child can find something interesting at Funschool.com. Besides groups of activities arranged by grade level, the site also offers Arcade, Puzzle/Board Games, Silly Stories, Joke Page and Funcorner. A nice touch is that a child can fill out a search form and pull up games cross-indexed by topic and age.

A front page with a starry blue backdrop loads animated icons that beep or emote for attention as the cursor passes over them. I found it a bit annoying, but children will love it.

As each activity loads, another short game is offered, making the wait a little more fun. Once games fully load, the real fun begins. Challenges range from simply choosing a correct illustrated box to reveal the history of computers (I had no idea Blaise Pascal invented the first calculator in 1642), to discovering opposites in the French language by connecting pictures, to playing a relaxing game of checkers.

Many of the activities involve story lines to keep things interesting. For example, one game for second-graders, Dungeon Rescue, relates the tale of King Evidurran, who has imprisoned the warriors of Freeville. The player must solve word riddles to free his comrades, a sort of Middle Ages "Wheel of Fortune."

Ease of use:

The designers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a visit to this site as efficient and painless as possible.

The activities utilize scripts from a Java-based interactive platform called Kauphy, which means no plug-ins are needed and the site supports the browsers Netscape (3.0 and higher) and Internet Explorer (3.0 and higher). I did have problems with my Macintosh, however, when running some of the games the version of my browser, Navigator 4.7, was incompatible.

Also, a "help desk" area answers any technical questions, and visitors can test their browser to make sure it is configured correctly for the site´s functions.

Banner ads do pepper the pages, but parents can subscribe to the site ($5 per month or $19.99 for a year's commitment) to view pages without advertisements.

Overall, every activity I tried (that was compatible with my browser) worked flawlessly, and though I was overwhelmed by the amount of stimulating stuff, Funschool.com lived up to its name.

Dont miss:

Gators Choice features a wisecracking alligator who, with the help of a wormy buddy, presents a game to check out. Gator was pushing Cave Crackers during my visit. The game involves dragging matching symbols together on a board layout. When the symbols touch, they disappear, and a cavern entrance opens. The player has 60 seconds to get through each of the eight sections. It was like Concentration meets Tetris and was as addicting as it was frustrating.

Family activity:

Visitors can create airplanes, animals and geometric designs using the ancient paper-folding art of origami by stopping by the Fun Corner. Found under Planet Crafts, eight projects are available. Complete pictorial instructions can be read on the screen or printed for use later.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

The sheer diversity of activities will keep any child focused on learning. The entire family will find plenty of reasons to keep revisiting Funschool.com.

Overall grade: A

Remember: The information on the Internet constantly changes. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it´s accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]).

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