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ZX Spectrum 48K

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Linda Barker
Chris Bourne

There are eight programs on each Fun School tape. They're all written in BASIC and are easy to follow. All are specially designed to help children understand colours, shapes, numbers and letters. What's more, all the programs have been playtested by children both at school and at home. You can be sure that any child is not only having fun and learning how to use a computer - they are also developing, or polishing, useful skills.

For the Under-6s
Shape Snap - Simply press the space bar if the shapes are identical, or any other key if they're not. The shapes are bright and colourful making the whole exercise more like a game than actually learning.

Find the Mole - A fun number game. The sweet little mole is hiding behind one of the five molehills on screen. Any child will have fun making him pop up.

Teddy Count - Little teddies, nicely drawn, march around the screen and then stand in line. Simply count them. As with all the games in the Fun School series, if an answer is correct the reward is a little fanfare.

Write a Letter - Using the teddy bear cursor, the child can tap in whatever they want. Parents or teachers can then check it, or even print it out. The child can do nothing wrong on this one as there are no rules. As it's up to somebody else to check any mistakes, this program offers the chance for some interaction.

Colour Train - An exercise in colour. The train changes colour as it goes around the track and the child has to match the colour of the train with the colour of the station and press stop when the train passes the station of the same colour.

Pick a Letter - This is a more difficult version of Shape Snap. Using four keys, the idea is to find the match for the letter at the bottom of the screen from the rows of letters at the top of the screen. Using the keys, the little teddy is moved onto the matching letter and then carries it to the bottom of the screen.

Spell a Word - The objects are simple enough for the age range and, as with all the other programs, success brings a sense of achievement.

Teddy Bears Picnic - Using the keys, the child has to guide little teddy through the trees and bushes to his picnic rug at the bottom of the screen. The keys used are Z, X, K and M, but it might be a good idea to draw arrows on stickers and place them over the keys.

For 6-8 year olds
Number Train - A more difficult variation on the train game mentioned above. As well as matching up colours, the idea here is to work out how many people are on the train by working out the additions and subtractions that the computer displays on screen.

Shopping - A shopping list appears on screen, followed by a row of shops. The child has to go through the list, guiding the frog into the shop that sells the necessary item. This is an exercise that can easily be carried on outside with real lists and shops.

Maths Maze - Here, the child has to guide the frog through the maze until the robot guards are reached. The guards then set a maths problem which has to be answered in order to continue.

Treasure Hunt - As an introduction to co-ordinates, this is a very helpful program. The child has to guess in which square the treasure is hidden. The computer helps with clues of the hot, cold, very hot variety.

Bounce - Now I found this exercise in angles quite difficult. The idea is to shoot a ball so that it bounces off at certain angles and hits an apple. It's the same principle that guides a snooker ball off the cushions, and it's terribly tricky!

Packing - The frog has to be guided onto certain shapes, pick them up and pack them into a central shape. Make sure that the child places them just right, if the shapes are just a little off-centre then the computer will insist they're wrong when they are in fact right.

Caterpillar - It's hangman! If the word is guessed within the letter limit, the caterpillar gets a nibble.

Number Jump - This program works as a multiplication aid. The frog has to reach the other side of the screen by jumping on certain lily pads. If, for example, the multiple is two the frog cannot jump on odd numbers. It's challenging and, like all the programs, perfect for the target age group.

For the Over-8s
Build a Bridge - A shape fitting exercise which makes you think.

Passage of Guardians - This is more my line - anagrams. I understand words. Parents or teachers can even add their own anagrams.

Unicorn - A logical maze game that will tax those brain cells.

Logic Doors - Oh dear, this is where it starts getting difficult. When it comes to maths and logic I am a complete dunce. This is a complicated game and I hope the over-8s are more logical than me.

Souvenirs - Easier maths here. A good intro to foreign currencies.

Code Boxes - This one seems to have something to do with binary number systems. Agh! Why wasn't I taught these things.

Mystery Machine - This is like one of those IQ tests where you have to work out sequences to get passwords. Erm, I think I'd better go and enrol in some evening classes Sob!

The Fun School series is well worth looking into. In fact, it's very nearly a Megagame. Unfortunately, being BASIC, the programs are quite slow to respond to key presses, and, for young children, this could be very frustrating.


Screenshot Text

As the blue train made it torturous way towards them, the blue people hoped and prayed that they'd all fit on together. The hated being split up.

Good old Teddy! Thanks to his valuable clue and the picture just above, we'll have this word spelt in no time at all. It's obviously 'bop'. (You're in detention. Jon)

If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise. If you go down to the woods today, you'd better go in disguise. Why? Cos the teddy bears are having a picnic!

Well it's not carryt, or carret, or ven carrst. Maybe it's carrat. No, no, no - I know! It's one of them long orange things - a carob! No, a carrot! Hurrah!