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JumpStart Logo.png
Series Logo
Developer(s)Fanfare Software[1] (1994–1995)
JumpStart Games (1995–present)
Publisher(s)Knowledge Adventure
Creator(s)Barton Listick
Platform(s)Windows, Macintosh, Game Boy Color, PlayStation, Wii, DS, Mobile app
First releaseJumpStart Kindergarten
November 14, 1994

JumpStart (known as Jump Ahead in the UK) is an educational media franchise for children, consisting mostly of educational games, produced by JumpStart Games. The series originally consisted of a series of educational PC games but has since expanded to include workbooks, videos, iPad apps, and other media, including a massive multiplayer online game located at JumpStart.com, that were launched March 10, 2009.[2][3]


Early era (1994–1997)[edit]

The first game in the early learning software series, JumpStart Kindergarten, was created in 1994 by independent developer, Fanfare Software (founded 1988), and published by Knowledge Adventures (founded 1991).[4] Afterwards, Fanfare was also known to have developed two more games; JumpStart Preschool and JumpStart 1st Grade before being acquired by Knowledge Adventure on August 9, 1995.[4] Later, Fanfare founder and chairman, Barton Listick, became vice president of Knowledge Adventure,[5] while his staff had relocated to Knowledge Adventure's headquarters in Glendale.[4] Meanwhile, Knowledge Adventure founder, Bill Gross, hoped the acquisition would allow the JumpStart series to expand into international markets, as well as multiple platforms, on-line, and the Internet, to supplement the home and school markets.[4] During the period of time, Listick was also optimistic that the added resources of the larger organisation would allow him to create a "JumpStart Elementary School" of compelling and exciting children's software.[4] Microtimes retrospectively wrote that the acquisition of the early learning products augmented Knowledge Adventure's strengths.[6] In October, Steve Chadima, vice president of marketing services at Knowledge Adventure said that while JumpStart sales were strong, and the series was about to be extended with JumpStart Second Grade, he said: "We're testing concepts for third grade to see if it is viable...I don't know if this is going to work with higher grade levels."[7] However, JumpStart Adventures 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain would end up being released in 1996, and many higher grade games followed. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Knowledge Adventure "started the baby trend when it introduced JumpStart Toddler in 1996".[8] On February 3, 1997, the privately-held Knowledge Adventure was acquired by CUC International, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the CUC Software division alongside Davidson, Blizzard Entertainment, and Sierra On-Line; CUC Software would be the label that marketed the JumpStart games.[9] JumpStart Typing, JumpStart Spanish, JumpStart Kindergarten II, JumpStart 1st Grade Reading, JumpStart 1st Grade Math, JumpStart 2nd Grade Math and JumpStart 5th Grade were premiered at the 1997 E3.[10][11]

Modern era (2009–present)[edit]

After launching JumpStart 3D Virtual World in 2009, Knowledge Adventure noted they were adding online worlds and casual mobile games, console games, and traditional web-based browser games to their Jumpstart catalogue.[12] That year, Jumpstart was advertised as offering the first browser game with "high quality 3D graphics and advanced gameplay".[13] James Czulewicz, Vice President of Sales and Planning at Knowledge Adventure said that JumpStart Pet Rescue, launched August 2009, was the "first educational product for the Wii."[14] The trademark "JUMPSTART GET MOVING" was issued by UPTO on November 23, 2010.[15] On February 19, 2011, Knowledge Adventure announced the JumpStart brand had entered the console market by making Crazy Karts for the Nintendo Wii (released February); and Deep Sea Escape (released March) and Legend of Lost Island for the Nintendo DS (released March).[16] On October 6, 2011, Knowledge Adventure announced the casual gaming brand Twisted Games. The company had previously entered the mobile gaming market with 2010's JumpStart Preschool Magic of Learning, which was followed by other JumpStart and Math Blaster titles.[17] On October 9, 2012, Knowledge Adventure announced that it was changing its name to JumpStart. References to "Jumpstart" after this date often refer to the successor to Knowledge Adventure, rather than the Jumpstart series specifically. On July 3, 2017, JumpStart was acquired by a Chinese company, NetDragon.[18]


Plot and gameplay[edit]

The purpose of the bulk of their games is to drill young players in specific subjects and skills, as required by elementary and secondary school curriculum. These drills are often embedded within entertaining gameplay. The storylines typical involve one or more animated characters facing a problem and asking the player for help; therefore, the games are goal oriented. The storylines are, by design, shallow and keep the player focused on gameplay.[19]


The art and animations for Fanfare Studio's early games were virtually paperless, being rendered with a mouse and tablet.[20] Additional artwork was done by Knowledge Adventure's in-house and contract artist Ann Pickard for their first three games[21] and, previous to the advent of 3D compute graphics, for their early games, Maurice Kimball drew the backgrounds.[22]

During the mid-90s, former musician and BigFins band member David Rees joined Knowledge Adventure as Art Director and music composer until his leave in 2002.[23]

Vivendi Universal Games artist Marcela Cabrera did the illustrations for the games around 1998 and directed the art for the games developed the following year.[24]

The backgrounds for the JumpStart World games were sketched and lined by the lead artist and illustrator Maurice Kimball.[25]

The backgrounds for the JumpStart SpyMasters games were sketched, hand drawn and inked by Brian White[26] while game designer Brian Reynolds worked on the flash animation for the background objects and characters.[27]

Educational goals[edit]

The concept behind the JumpStart Learning System was to keep track of a student's successes and struggles, all while teaching an entire grade or subject through a proper balance of puzzles, games and education.

To cater to different audiences and student goals, Jumpstart binned their products into three categories:

  1. Grade-based products, covering all topics typically taught in a single year of elementary or secondary school
  2. Subject-based products, focusing on specific topics
  3. Learning products, teaching basics while exploring a whole new world[28]

The series' "rigorous methodology" includes input from kids advisory teams, family testing, child development specialists, teachers, and educational experts.[29]

In addition, Knowledge Adventure developed three techniques behind their products:[28]

  1. JumpStart Assessment Technology -To customize individual skill levels.
  2. JumpStart Adaptive Learning Technology - To customize program difficulty levels to coincide with a user's abilities.
  3. JumpStart Tutor Technology - To help a user overcome any obstacles.

In 1995, Jumpstart claimed to be the first software series to cover entire curricula by grade level, and that this was achieved through reinforcing classroom lessons with cartoon guides.[4] For instance, in JumpStart First Grade, "children ages 5-7 learn 92 educational skills in 18 modules teaching math, geography, science and reading comprehension from eight interactive books with 52 illustrated stories".[4] These "curriculum and skills products"[30] introduced several innovative edutainment features, such as Progress Reports (allowing parents and teachers to track progress) and Adaptive Learning (allowing the game to automatically change in difficulty based on the player's performance).[4]

The developers believe it is vital to achieve the proper balance between education and entertainment. Diana Pray, senior producer of Jumpstart titles, said "we give [the player] enough story to make them feel like they are in a game", while offering reward-based incentives to encourage progress.[19] While noting that the "dominant theory since the infancy of the [edutainment] genre has been to sugarcoat the academic drudgery and make learning child's play", The Washington Post's Don Oldenburg, the newspaper noted that JumpStart was more "overtly educational" than most, offering grade-specific, curriculum-oriented products, adding that Knowledge Adventure had "got the jump on the industry" by being the first mover in the summer of that year.[7] In 2011, Knowledge Adventures President/CEO David Lord said that "JumpStart and Math Blaster have already helped millions of English speaking students and English Language learners discover that learning can be fun".[31]

Products in the franchise[edit]

Games Platforms, Release Years and Versions
JumpStart Kindergarten
JumpStart 1st Grade

(aka Jump Ahead Year 1 in UK)

JumpStart Preschool
JumpStart 2nd Grade

(aka Jump Ahead Year 2 in UK)
(Working Title JumpStart Adventures 2nd Grade)[33]

JumpStart Toddlers
JumpStart Pre-K Macintosh, Windows (September 9, 1996)
JumpStart Adventures 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain
JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island
JumpStart Adventures 5th Grade: Jo Hammet, Kid Detective Macintosh, Windows (October 13, 1997)
JumpStart Baby Macintosh, Windows (July 27, 1998)
JumpStart Adventures 6th Grade: Mission Earthquest Macintosh, Windows (November 16, 1998 - V1.2)
JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Sapphire Falls
JumpStart Advanced Preschool

(aka Frankie Pet Friends in UK)
(Formerly known as JumpStart Advanced Preschool: Fundamentals)

Macintosh, Windows (September 4, 2002 - V3.0)[38]
JumpStart Advanced Preschool World

(aka JumpStart Advanced Preschool - Welcome to Storyland)

Macintosh, Windows (September 11, 2002 - V3.0)
JumpStart Advanced Animal Field Trip Macintosh, Windows (November 6, 2002 - V1.0C)
JumpStart 3D Virtual World: My First Adventure Macintosh, Windows (July 2, 2008 - V1.01C)
JumpStart 3D Virtual World: The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin Macintosh, Windows (August 13, 2008 - V1.01C)
JumpStart 3D Virtual World: Trouble in Town Macintosh, Windows (September 3, 2008 - V1.01C)
JumpStart 3D Virtual World: The Quest for the Color Meister Macintosh, Windows (October 22, 2008 - V1.01C)
JumpStart Spelling
JumpStart Typing Macintosh, Windows (1997 - V1.0)
JumpStart Kindergarten Reading

(aka JumpStart Reading for Kindergarteners)

Macintosh, Windows (1997 - V1.2.2)
JumpStart 1st Grade Reading Macintosh, Windows (1997)
JumpStart 2nd Grade Reading Macintosh, Windows (1997)
JumpStart 1st Grade Math
JumpStart 2nd Grade Math Macintosh, Windows (1998)
JumpStart Spanish Macintosh, Windows (1998 - V1.0)
JumpStart Music Macintosh, Windows (1998)
JumpStart Numbers Macintosh, Windows (1998 - V1.4.1)
JumpStart ABC's Macintosh, Windows (1999 - V1.0c)
JumpStart Phonics Macintosh, Windows (1999)
JumpStart Kindergarten Math Macintosh, Windows (2000)
JumpStart Artist

(aka "Art Discovery")

Macintosh, Windows (2001)
JumpStart Languages Macintosh, Windows (2001)
JumpStart Explorers Macintosh, Windows (November 28, 2001)
JumpStart SpyMasters: Unmask the Prankster Macintosh, Windows (2001)
JumpStart Spy Masters: Max Strikes Back Macintosh, Windows (2001)
JumpStart Animal Adventures

(aka "Jump Ahead Frankie Animal Adventures" in UK)

JumpStart Study Helpers: Math Booster Macintosh, Windows (2003)
JumpStart Study Helpers: Spelling Bee Macintosh, Windows (2003)
Jumpstart World: Preschool Macintosh, Windows (2001)
Jumpstart World: Kindergarten Macintosh, Windows (2001)
Jumpstart World: 1st Grade Macintosh, Windows (2001)
Jumpstart World: 2nd Grade Macintosh, Windows (2001)
Jumpstart World: Pet Playground Macintosh, Windows (2006)
JumpStart Preschool: Magic of Learning[40] iOS, Android (2016)
JumpStart Punk Punk Blitz[40] iOS (2010)
JumpStart Deep Sea Escape NDS (2011)
JumpStart Jet Pack[40][41] iOS, Online (2015)
JumpStart My ABC Book[40] iOS (2013)
JumpStart Art Studio[40] iOS (2013)
JumpStart Roller Squash[40] iOS (2013)
JumpStart Blast-Off: Math[40] iOS (2013)
JumpStart Pet Rescue iOS (2013)
JumpStart Blast-Off: Early Reading iOS (2014)
JumpStart Junior iOS (2016)
JumpStart Dino Adventure Field Trip Game Boy Color (2000)
JumpStart Wildlife Safari Field Trip PlayStation 2 (2001)
JumpStart Pet Rescue Wii (2008)
JumpStart: Escape from Adventure Island Wii (2010)
JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness Wii (2016)
JumpStart Crazy Karts Wii (2011)
Jump Start Baby Book Macintosh, Windows (2000)
My Learning Scrapbook Macintosh, Windows (2000)
JumpStart Around the World Macintosh, Windows (2000)
JumpStart Adventure Challenge Macintosh, Windows (2000)
JumpStart Reading with Karaoke

(later renamed JumpStart Phonics Read & Rhyme)

Macintosh, Windows (2005)
World of Jumpstart[42] Macintosh, Windows (2014)
JumpStart Magic & Mythies[43] Android, iOS, Kindle, Windows (2015)
JumpStart Buzzwords[44] Online (2000)
JumpStart: PreK-1st Grade: Frankie's Field Trip iDVD (2013)
JumpStart Power Prep 2nd Grade iDVD (2014)
JumpStart Power Prep 3rd Grade iDVD (2015)
JumpStart Power Prep 4th Grade iDVD (2015)
JumpStart Jukebox VHS (2003)
JumpStart Kindergarten: Why Did the Bus Stop? VHS (2000)
JumpStart Preschool: Who Left the Juice in the Caboose? VHS (2000)


Year Title Games
2003 JumpStart 1st -3rd Grade Learning Playground
2003 JumpStart Advanced Kindergarten
  • JumpStart Advanced: Kindergarten Fundamentals (2002) (Original, 3-Disc, V1.0 and V2.0)
  • JumpStart Advanced: Animal Field Trip (2003) (V1.0 and V2.0)
  • JumpStart Advanced: Arts and Crafts (2003) (3-Disc, V1.0 and V2.0)
  • JumpStart World: Pet Playground (2006) (V1.0)
  • Kid Keys: The Magical Typing Tutor (2001) (V2.0)
  • Kindergarten Essentials (2003) (V3.0)
  • JumpStart Blast-Off: Early Reading (2014) (V3.0)
  • JumpStart Blast-Off: Math (2014) (V3.0)
  • JumpStart Artist (2001) (V3.0)
  • JumpStart Languages (2001) (V3.2)
2000 JumpStart Home Learning System
2000 JumpStart Early Development
  • JumpStart Baby (1998)
  • JumpStart Baby (2000)
  • JumpStart Toddlers (1996)
  • JumpStart Toddlers (2000)
  • JumpStart Preschool (1995)
  • JumpStart Preschool (1998)
  • JumpStart Pre-K (1996)


Critical reception[edit]

JumpStart Study Helpers Math Booster and Spelling Bee, were notable for allowing users to edit the math problems or words used in gameplay.[45][46] Carolyn Handler, Miller of Digital Storytelling: A Creator's Guide to Interactive Entertainment, wrote that the series " found just the right balance between storyline and other demands of educational titles".[19] The series has reputation for providing "safe, age appropriate" games for children.[13] The Houston Chronicle praised the series for "offer[ing] many and varied academic activities, plenty of play-oriented pursuits, incentives to spur and reward achievement and all the interactive trimmings - cool characters, great 3-D graphics and snappy sound effects", describing the World Kindergarten, 1st Grade and 2nd Grade as superlative pieces of educational software.[47]

Commercial performance[edit]

Knowledge Adventure made $35 million in sales in 1994 by selling titles such as Jumpstart Kindergarten and Bug Adventures.[48]

JumpStart Kindergarten was 8th most popular titles in the CD-ROM category in the Washington area in the week ending October 14, 1995,[49] and 9th in the week ending May 4, 1996.[50] Throughout 1997, JumpStart Toddler took in over $4 million.[8] In the first half of 1997 four of the top five educational titles for Windows were JumpStart products,[9] while four of the top ten DOS/Windows home education titles were JumpStart.[51] Two of the top selling retail CD Roms of August 1997 were JumpStart products (5th and 6th), after Microsoft Windows 95 Upgrade, Norton Utilities, Myst, and Viruscan.[52] Jumpstart First Grade (3rd), Jumpstart Third Grade (4th), Jumpstart Second Grade (5th), Jumpstart Kindergarten II (6th), Jumpstart Preschool (7th), Jumpstart Fourth Grade (8th), Jumpstart Toddlers were within the top-selling educational software across 13 U.S. software retail chains in the week ending September 19, 1998.[53] Jumpstart Preschool (2nd), Jumpstart First Grade (3rd), Jumpstart Kindergarten (7th), and Jumpstart Second Grade (8th) were among the top-selling home-education software across 13 software retail chains in the week ending May 1, 1999.[54]

Awards and nominations[edit]

As of 2017, the series won over 300 awards.[55]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1998 JumpStart Spanish Parent's Choice Gold Award Won[56]
1999 JumpStart Adventures 6th Grade Parent's Choice Gold Award Won[57]
2001 JumpStart Languages Parent's Choice Silver Honor Won[58]
2003 JumpStart Study Helpers: Spelling Bee National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[59]
2005 JumpStart Reading with Karaoke National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[60]
2005 JumpStart Reading With Karaoke Parent's Choice Silver Honor Won[61]
2007 JumpStart World: Kindergarten Parent's Choice Recommended Won[62]
2007 JumpStart World: First Grade Parent's Choice Won[63]
2007 JumpStart World: Second Grade Parent's Choice Recommended Won[64]
2007 JumpStart World 1st Grade iParenting Media Award Won[65]
2007 JumpStart World 2nd Grade iParenting Media Award Won[65]
2008 JumpStart World Kindergarten Silver Recipient Won[66]
2008 JumpStart Advanced Preschool World Toy Man™ Award of Excellence & eChoice Award Won[67]
2008 Toy Man™ Award of Excellence & eChoice Award Won[68]
2008 Toy Man™ Award of Excellence & eChoice Award Won[68]
2008 ? iParenting Media Awards Won[69]
2008 JumpStart World Kindergarten The Toy Man Award of Excellence Won[70]
2008 JumpStart 3D Virtual World: The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[71]
2008 JumpStart 3D Virtual World: Quest for the Color Meister National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[72]
2008 JumpStart 3D Virtual World: Trouble in Town National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[73]
2008 JumpStart 3D Virtual World: My First Adventure National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[74]
2008 JumpStart Advanced Preschool World Premium Edition National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[75]
2008 JumpStart World National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[76]
2011 Jumpstart.com National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[77]
2012 Jumpstart National Parenting Seal of Approval Won[78]
2013 JumpStart 3D Virtual World 2013 ON for Learning Award Won[79]


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  2. ^ "Virtual World Games for Kids — Online 3D Virtual World – JumpStart". Jumpstart.com. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
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  13. ^ a b Spring, Joel (2012-03-22). Education Networks: Power, Wealth, Cyberspace, and the Digital Mind. Routledge. ISBN 9781136583438.
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  17. ^ "Knowledge Adventure Launches Twisted Games". 2011-10-06. Archived from the original on 2018-07-28.
  18. ^ Limited, NetDragon Websoft Holdings. "NetDragon Acquires JumpStart to Expand Its Online Communities". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2017-07-07.
  19. ^ a b c Miller, Carolyn Handler (2014-06-27). Digital Storytelling: A Creator's Guide to Interactive Entertainment. CRC Press. ISBN 9781135044459.
  20. ^ Tom Klein. "Tom Klein - Animated Appeal". Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  21. ^ Jay Allen Sanford (August 23, 2012). "Ann Pickard Profile". San Diego Reader. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  22. ^ Maurice K. Kimball. "The Mind Behind Your Eye". Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  23. ^ "The Sound of San Diego is...Kids' Music??". Linkedin. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  24. ^ "Marcela Cabrera - Work History". Core77, Inc. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
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  26. ^ "Brian White Portfolio - Miscellaneous". RISD. July 23, 2014. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  27. ^ "Brian Reynolds - JumpStart Flash folder". RISD. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  28. ^ a b "The JumpStart Learning System". 1 March 2000. Archived from the original on 1 March 2000.
  29. ^ "Apple - Games - Knowledge Adventure". 2002-12-12. Archived from the original on 2002-12-12. Retrieved 2017-05-19.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  31. ^ "Knowledge Adventure Introduces Math Blaster Online World in Spanish". 2011-04-02. Archived from the original on 2018-11-18.
  32. ^ Knowledge Adventure (3 September 1999). "JumpStart 1st Grade 2000 User's Guide" – via Internet Archive.
  33. ^ http://images.knowledgeadventure.com/school/teachermaterials/1247566.pdf
  34. ^ "JumpStart Adventures Jump Start 2nd Grade - Win31-Mac (Eng)" – via Internet Archive.
  35. ^ "JumpStart Adventures Jump Start 3rd Grade - Win31-Mac (Eng)" – via Internet Archive.
  36. ^ "JumpStart Adventures 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain - The Cutting Room Floor". tcrf.net.
  37. ^ a b Knowledge Adventure (3 September 1996). "JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island" – via Internet Archive.
  38. ^ https://archive.org/details/JumpStartAdvancedPreschool5.62
  39. ^ "JumpStart 1st Grade Math v1 - Win31-Mac (Eng)" – via Internet Archive.
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  42. ^ "World of JumpStart". www.jumpstart.com.
  43. ^ "CTREX Product Review". reviews.childrenstech.com.
  44. ^ "Buzzwords – Free, Fun Online Word Games for Kids – JumpStart". www.knowledgeadventure.com.
  45. ^ "JumpStart Study Helpers Math Booster Game Review". Commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  46. ^ "JumpStart Study Helpers Spelling Bee Game Review". M.commonsensemedia.org. 2003-08-15. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
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  50. ^ "BEST SELLERS". 1996-05-13. Archived from the original on 2016-10-08.
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  52. ^ Inc, Ziff Davis (1997-11-18). PC Mag. Ziff Davis, Inc.
  53. ^ "BESTSELLERS". 1998-10-05. Archived from the original on 2016-10-08.
  54. ^ "Bestsellers". 1999-05-17. Archived from the original on 2016-10-08.
  55. ^ "Reviews & Awards - JumpStart". www.jumpstart.com. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  56. ^ "JumpStart Spanish - Parents' Choice".
  57. ^ "JumpStart Adventures 6th Grade - Parents' Choice".
  58. ^ "JumpStart Languages - Parents' Choice".
  59. ^ "JumpStart Study Helpers: Spelling Bee - Sealed Approval Winner".
  60. ^ "JumpStart Reading with Karaoke - Sealed Approval Winner".
  61. ^ "JumpStart Reading With Karaoke - Parents' Choice".
  62. ^ "JumpStart World-Kindergarten: Parents' Choice".
  63. ^ "JumpStart World: First Grade - Parents' Choice".
  64. ^ "JumpStart World: Second Grade - Parents' Choice".
  65. ^ a b "TDmonthly - Award-Winning Toys".
  66. ^ "2008 Entro Honor Roll" (PDF).
  67. ^ Rev. James G.W. Fisher (March 11, 2008). "The Toy Man™ Seal of Approval New Inductees - 2008".
  68. ^ a b "2008 Entro Honor Roll". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  69. ^ "iParenting Media Awards - Outstanding Product 2008 - JumpStart".
  70. ^ "The Toy Man Award of Excellence 2008 - JumpStart".
  71. ^ "Jumpstart 3D Virtual World: The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin - Sealed Approval Winner".
  72. ^ "JumpStart 3D Virtual World: Quest for the Color Meister - Sealed Approval Winner".
  73. ^ "JumpStart 3D Virtual World: Trouble in Town - Sealed Approval Winner".
  74. ^ "JumpStart 3D Virtual World: My First Adventure - Sealed Approval Winner".
  75. ^ "JumpStart Advanced Preschool World Premium Edition - Sealed Approval Winner".
  76. ^ "National Parenting Seal of Approval - JumpStart".
  77. ^ "JumpStart.com - Sealed Approval Winner".
  78. ^ "JumpStart - Sealed Approval Winner".
  79. ^ "2013 ON for Learning Award - JumpStart".

External links[edit]