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Infant tools for the job

Offering painting, publishing, counting, control, graphing and branching databases, Infant Video Toolbox is a packed suite. It's good value too. Chris Drage reports

Infant Video Toolbox is a software suite aimed at 3 to 7-year-olds which offers painting, publishing, counting, control, graphing and branching database modules. Video tutorials accompany the software to provide teachers with ideas on what to do with it. All are tied in closely with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) scheme of work.

This software suite concentrates on simplicity in both learning and using the software, yet still maintains the creativity. Also, children do not even have to be able to read to use it, as there are no "wrong buttons" to press and all modules share a common look and feel. A teacher can even control pupils' use of the printer - a useful touch. Briefly, the suite comprises:

* 2paint - a very simple drawing program for Nursery, Reception and Year 1 (fits Unit 2B of the QCA Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Schemes of Work (SoW) * 2publish - mixes together text and graphics to make simple books, envelopes and stories and posters. (fits Unit 2A (and parts of 1B and 3A) of the QCA ICT SoW * 2count - a simple data handling program to compile pictograms (fits Unit 1E and 2E of the QCA ICT SoW) * 2Go - allows pupils to give simple instrucions to move objects around the screen - a simple turtle graphics program (fits unit 1F and 2D of the QCA ICT SoW) * 2graph allows pupils to create block graphs, bar charts, pie charts and line graphs (fits Unit 2D and 4D of the QCA ICT SoW) * 2question is for making simple branching databases (fits Unit 2E and 4C of the QCA ICT SoW) The suite provides focused skills development and, by using simple icons and appropriate text, helps ensure that reading age is not a barrier to learning ICT skills. I particularly liked the software tutorials which should quickly help teachers become familiar with each program.

At the asking price, the 2Simple suite represents very good value for money at pound;15 per program for most schools (pound;60 per program divided by four classes in key stage 1). What you must consider is the bigger picture; will the school be investing in one of the larger suites like Granada's Toolkit or REM's LessonMaker? If it is, then 2Simple may prove superfluous. If not then 2Simple is the logical choice for KS1 classes.

Infant Video Toolbox for PCs or Windows NT networks from 2Simple Educational SoftwarePrice: pound;349 site Educational Software, Unit 3a, The Galleria,180-182 George Lane, South Woodford, London E18 1AYPhone: 0208 491 8368

Suitability for purpose ***** Ease of use ***** Value for money ****

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