Title: Trudy's Time and Place House.
Publisher: Iona Software Ltd.
Age Range: 6/7 years olds.
Curriculum Area: Maths, Geography, Science/Environmental Studies.
The disc as the title suggests teaches but mostly supports skills inn the areas of Time and Place.
There are five options to work with in "Trudy's" . I found three of them to be constructive and
very useful in the classroom, one fairly limited and frustrating, and the other quite novel and mildly
The software allows the children to explore and discover at their own pace and while
my 1st class were very enthusiastic about some of the options, the levels of difficulty could have
been expanded. The explanatory and experimental elements of 2 options. "The Symbol Sandbox"
and "Jellybean Hunt" rendered them the most stimulating and provided very positive learning opportunities.
The information is structured to support learning in the interlinked areas of time, place, directionality,
mapping, etc. The program has an 'explore and discover' mode plus a question/answer mode for each
option. I found that the disc was most successful when used by children working in pairs. The collaborative
style of learning was easily and positively used with the disc.
My biggest criticism of this product is the failure to help the language/verbal potential of each topic for
example in "The Calendar Clock" Option the chance to help the children to become familiar with the
names of days, months, seasons and their sequence is completely missed. For the non-readers the aural
is essential here and even the readers, at this stage, need the aural to reinforce learning. Likewise, in
the "Symbols Sandbox" option, which was very popular, the visual aspect is excellent but the vocabulary
potential is unexplored in the program. Therefore, the disc can only be seen as an enhancer of topics
for which the class teacher will have taught all the relevant vocabulary. Even accepting the teachers
input should always happen, it seems a shame not to reinforce with language on the disc. The children
with whom I work are linguistically disadvantaged, so to present interesting content without verbal
reinforcement is to miss out hugely on a valuable educational opportunity. I will give a brief comment
on each section in the disc.
1. Jellybean Hunt: This is an excellent piece of teaching as well as reinforcement. It fulfilled its own objectives
in the areas of mapping, direction and reading symbols. It taught spiritual awareness and logical thinking
and the children really enjoyed it. The encouragement and praise helped a lot.
2. Symbol Sandbox: This is very visually stimulating and encourages creative user involvement. It teaches
geographical symbols and promotes planning and prediction skills. The lack of language here is my only criticism.
3. Time Twins: Its own objective of allowing children to experiment with basic time telling is achieved. It
pre-supposes a lot of previous learning. This is very good for reinforcement and has good range of levels
of ability built in.
4. Calendar Clock: I found this option very disappointing. I found the small amount of verbal content to
be of such poor quality as to being destructive of previous learning. I wouldn't recommend this option at all.
5. Earth Scout: There are too many opportunities to fill here. I felt the material chosen lacked a focus and
was too ramdon to be useful. It proved to be enjoyable for some children and frustrating for others.
The screen design is very attractive, its easy to use and the on-screen help
is good. The range of difficulty is
not very wide. Some extra, graded challenges would have been interesting. I think the accompanying folder
of auxcillary material is excellent. The photociable worksheets are attractive and the teaching ideas very useful.
The self-correction aspect to some of the options and the exploratory nature of the disc were aspects that can't
be always as easily available in other methods of teaching.
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