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In brief;Books;Features amp; Arts

AMAZONIA. CD-Rom pound;29.99. Activity Book pound;9.96. Video (5x20 minute programmes) pound;19.99. Available from Channel 4 Schools, PO Box 100, Warwick CV34 6TZ, Tel: 01926 436444, or online from: http:learning.channel4.comshop.

Bringing to life distant virtual worlds and exploring hazardous and remote landscapes are excellent uses of information and communciations technology in the classroom.

This informative and entertaining CD-Rom for 13-year-olds and above supports the Channel 4 schools series. The information centre acts as a large database of text, pictures, video and animation. An interactive comic strip tells the story of a family moving into the rainforest. The story line is realistic but the interactive nature of the comic strip is limited. Users have to make some decisions about where to locate the farm and how to use the land, but there is perhaps too much mindless mouse- clicking to keep children occupied. The virtual rainforest section allows users to explore a small area of remote Amazonia. Hotspots on the console and a map and compass assist navigation. An interesting, virtual field visit - navigation takes some getting used to, but the interface is very attractive.

FOCUS ON FARMS PHOTOPACK. By Christiane Dorion and Patricia Kendell. WWF-UK pound;10.99. Available from Education Distribution, PO Box 963, Slough SL2 3RS. Tel: 01753 643104.

This useful activity pack contains 12 colourful, glossy photographs, an A3 poster with a farm game and a teacher's guide.

The photopack has pictures of animals, birds and insects so it is likely to be enjoyed by young children. Some of the images are rather stereotypical and more exotic products like tea, coffee and rice are dealt with. There are colourful opportunities to deal with some geographical and environmental issues such as the use of chemicals on the farm, soil erosion, habitats and wildlife. Other topics like factory farming and supermarkets can also be explored. The guide ably supports the resources with curriculum advice, key questions and sets of activities.

Karl Donert teaches at Liverpool Hope University College

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