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Features-packed CDs

The KEYWORDS triple-format CD-Roms (Acorn, Apple, PC), also from Sherston, are excellent electronic-themed thesauri for primary schools. Each has a collection of about 200 keywords relevant to the given title.

Not only do they offer clear and child-friendly explanations of each listed word, they also afford an excellent introduction to simple databases and searching skills.

The main screen format is common, offering a set of seven large, clear and colourful icons. These give the child easy routes through the software and to its main functions. Similarly styled icons appear elsewhere in the programs, notably the stylised ear, clicking on which will play a very clear and child-friendly reading of the text currently on the screen in a real human voice, and the links of a chain, which will list other words related to the current keyword.

The Main Menu offers three alternatives; Index, Word Search and Picture Index. Index lists all the keywords in alphabetical order. A complete alphabet, displayed at the top of the screen, allows a rapid route to any particular initial letter. Clicking on the word required will produce the explanation and associated illustration for that keyword.

Word Search scans not just the keywords themselves but all the associated text too. Its "andor" facility enables more refined searches than single words alone. Obviously, "and" restricts the results while "or" extends them.

Picture Index lists the titles of all the pictures, again in alphabetical order. This may seem redundant, but is actually very useful as not allkeywords have associated illustrations while some of the pictures include words not included in the keyword list.

English Keywords explores the language associated with grammar, punctuation and phonics. It is well suited to use in the Literacy Hour. Examples are clear and well explained. Children will not only learn a lot, they'll actually enjoy doing so!

Science Keywords - The Living World covers all aspects of the animal and plant requirements of the primary curriculum while Science Keywords 2 - The Material World concentrates on the language associated with materials and their properties as well as physical processes.

Maths Keywords - Numbers and Calculations explains the language and concepts of primary mathematics. It is not method specific and does not attempt to teach how to perform operations, what it does do is help to understand what is happening and what the terms used really mean. The illustrations add a concrete dimension to many abstract concepts.

Overall, these CD-Roms are probably best suited to key stage 2 children. However, younger children will still find much of relevance, interest and benefit.

English Keywords; Science Keywords - The Living World;Science Keywords 2 - The Material World; Maths Keywords - Numbers and Calculations are triple-format (Acorn, Apple amp; PC) and available from Sherston Software, address and contact details as beforePrices: pound;29-95 (exc VAT) each (Multipack prices available)

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