Harcourt. From pound;100 annual school licence. Tel: 01865 888000.
Just2Easy. From pound;49.99 to pound;399.99 annual school licence.
Gerald Haigh takes the primary school chuckle challenge and finds a virtual drawing system and document processor that will guarantee laughs and learning experiences
Creative primary school software should provide easy-to-use tools and guidance and a few ready-made ideas. Then it must stand back so children and their teachers can do things the authors did not think of.
Ideally, it is not subject-specific but is happy to sit around waiting for the child to bring it into action to illustrate, explain or question facts and concepts from anywhere in the curriculum.
And as if that's not enough, it has to be easy to use right across the primary age range. Oh, and if it's web-based, so teachers, children and parents can use and share their work when and where they want, so much the better. Finally, we want to see people smiling and chuckling to themselves as they use it.
It's a challenge, but one which more and more software suppliers are rising to. These two products tick just about all of the boxes, including the important one labelled "fun".
Moovl allows children to draw or write on the screen using a virtual pencil and a palette of colours - and that's just the start. A series of controls allows them to give properties to the objects they draw, on a sliding scale: heavy to light, tight to loose, sticky to slippery, hard to soft, loud to quiet.
They can animate their drawings and import ones they have done before and stored in a portfolio. The built-in suggestions include illustrating a key stage 2 science lesson on air resistance using animated parachutists and a literacy lesson on idiomatic expressions in which children create animated scenes showing cats and dogs raining on a kid who is full of beans.
Moovl is web-based, so it's always accessible and easy for the teacher to manage. In no time at all, though, children will be racing ahead with new ideas, delving into all of the software's possibilities.
Prices start at pound;100 a year.
j2e from Just2Easy is a document processor on the web. A child is presented with a blank web page to treat like a sheet of paper - putting on text, manipulating it, changing colours and fonts and adding pictures or graphics.
Then, because it's on the web, the child can save it, call it up later on a home computer or go round to a friend's house where they can work on it together. It can be saved as a private document, to be seen within school or simply to sit on the web for everyone to share.
There's nothing to install; it is just out there on the web. Although it's simple in concept, it's obvious that creative teachers and children will find endless ways of using it and building it into existing work in class.
j2e costs from pound;49.99 for a small school (fewer than 100 pupils) to pound;399.99 for a school with more than 1,000