To many teachers locked into the numeracy lesson, The Number Crew 2 could be a welcome relief. The comprehensive teacher's notes describe how the programme fits easily into the numeracy lesson structure and give cross-curricular links in the problem-solving section as well as suitable stories and rhymes, which are useful resources generally.
Some of the programmes work well, especially the ones covering measurement. Length is my particular favourite as the story line is relevant to the content and the concept of standard units is developed well. Capacity also works and using a range of containers helps to develop the difficult concept of conservation. The sory line concerning weight, however, is contrived and less successful.
Both series have children working in schools as well, using the puppets of the Number Crew and a rather stilted presenter. In Solving Problems 2 the children are seen solving the actual problems themselves while in Calculations 2 the children are used as "living numbers" which does not work as well. Some of the storylines in Calculations 2 are dull and contrived and even in only 10 minutes children's attention is likely to wander.
The pi ce de resistance in the calculation programmes is the number line. I think many schools would love to have this electronic number line where the presenter zooms backwards and forwards in a car.
There are supporting activity books that could be used as homework. Used selectively, the programmes should add an extra dimension to the numeracy lesson, developing new concepts and skills.