Rezension: Word Bird's Word Land

Buchbesprechung von Irena Köstenbauer. Publiziert in ELGazette, November 1996

Word Bird's Word Land

Jeanne Perrett, Andy Dench, Grant Harrisson & Hugh Riley
Prentice Hall Hall Macmillan, June 1996
ISBN: 0-13-442146-9

Word Bird's Word Land comes in a very attractive, colourful box which contains a fully animated, highly interactive word-building CD-ROM, a user's guide, a 52 page photocopiable activity book and a pack of colouring pencils.

It is aimed at young learners (5+) at the elementary level and can be used at primary schools, at self-access centres and libraries as well as at home.
A number of things make this product very user friendly. First its excellent screen-by screen User's Guide, the best I have seen so far. It is so clearly written that even an unaccompanied child can follow the instructions easily.

The CD-ROM offers a choice of 20 subject sections which can be opened in any order, among others: Numbers, Colours, School, Family, Farm Animals, Jobs, Transport, At the Sea or Furniture.
Each subject area is divided into 4 activity screens: Read, Find, Play, and Spell. A song screen offers a choice of songs to sing along to. Screens can be explored at any pace and in any order.

Read Screen - includes picture flashcards which present 20 words per subject.

Find Screen - can be used to practise and test the words of each unit. Objects have to be identified and lively and humorous animations indicate whether the choice was right or wrong. "2Hot Spots" hidden on every screen provide extra animations just for fun, encouraging further exploration and interaction.

Play Screen - offers a wide variety of games, such as matching animal noises to their owners, play duck shoot at the seaside, choose presents for the family and dress people in the correct uniforms for their jobs. Some of the games have a speed button, which encourages competition and motivates for better performance. Children enjoy it very much.

Spell Screen - uses the same flashcards system as for the Read Screen. Each individual word can be spelled using the keyboard to type letters to fill in the corresponding number of blanks shown on screen. This activity also helps a child to develop and practise keyboard skills.

Song Screen - includes 10 very rhythmic and melodious songs to illustrate and practise key words. A child can also sing along to a special Karaoke version!

The programme has a scoring system enabling parents, teachers and users to monitor progress.

Each of the 20 subjects on the CD-ROM is accompanied by additional exercises in a photocopiable Activity Book. The activities range from colouring, making posters, model town, houses, puppets, preparing a timetable or a recipe for a patatoe salad or a club sandwich. At the back of the Activity Book there is a collection of 10 songs with blank words - a great thing to use for listening comprehension!

Before I write my reviews I always test the products with my students in Vienna. The children were enthusiastic about it.Their reaction totally agrees with my opinion - this is an excellent, very well researched product and its authors seem to know perfectly well how to motivate children to work. It has a rich variety of subjects and activities to prevent boredom, it is easy and fun to use but at the same time challenging, it's colourful and full of animations, the tunes are so catchy and rhythmic that children automatically stand up and start moving in tact.

All in all, I think this pack deserves success and I would strongly recommend it to its future users.

The CD-ROM works on both Macintosh System 7 and PC Windows 3.1 or higher and needs at least 8 MB or free RAM, a hard disc with at least 4 MB to install successfully.