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The confidence to be creative

101 Amazing Things To Do with Your Computer. Book (Kingfisher 101 team) and CD-Rom for Multimedia PCApple Mac by TAG Developments Pounds 12.99. Kingfisher 0171 903 9999. TAG 01474 537 886.

A computer is probably one of the most creative machines ever invented. Yet so often adults are scared that it will actually discourage creativity and see them as work or games machines. This new book-plus-CD-Rom will set us thinking about encouraging children to be more adventurous.

The bright, busy cover promises good things inside and before you know it you have followed the instructions and loaded the accompanying CD-Rom with the minimum of fuss, whether you have a PC or a Macintosh.

The first section explains the technical stuff, while the second guides you through the contents of the disc. The CD-Rom has an activity program, which has been simply designed using Hyperstudio, a multimedia authoring program easy enough for children.

There are seven main activities on the CD-Rom which help children to learn in a dynamic way about the useful and creative things that a computer can do: Digital Grapher allows them to make simple graphs which turn easily into colourful pie charts; Digital Games enables children to design their own board games and play them on screen; and Digital Photofit lets them create a gallery of fantastic faces that they can develop further in a painting package.

One of the advantages of using Hyperstudio is that children can share the activities with other children by making a player disc, very useful when they want to send each other locked secret codes which they have devised using the Digital Codes activity or a multimedia Greetings Card. Each activity is explained and there are plenty of suggestions for other things to do away from the computer.

As well as the activity program, there are files that can be opened in any standard paint packages, which are really templates for children to develop their own ideas. There are templates to help you make paper aeroplanes, name cards, mini kites and even playing cards. These can be decorated with the 100 clip-art images included with the disc.

For those connected to the Internet, an HyperText Mark-up Language file is included for connection to museums and galleries, zoos and safari parks and other interesting places such as castles for kids and Lego.

The book concludes with advice on health and safety, a glossary of computing terms and useful addresses.

This is a book which will help to combine all the natural creativity and curiosity that children have naturally in a supportive framework that will enhance their confidence with the computer.

It is excellent value and would be an invaluable resource for any primary school.

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