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Summer projects

With the end of the school year just about in sight, there is no better time to switch on the classroom's computer, blow the dust off the printer and start creating.

The timetable lends itself to projects using computers, printers and - if you have them - digital cameras and scanners.

The most obvious summer project is to design and make programmes for end-of-term events such as concerts. Retiring colleagues and graduation year groups will welcome a collection of digitally recorded memories. Better still, how about customised stickers to help the school raise fundsfrom innocent grannies attending end-of-term events? Any charity worker will tell you how much more fun it is to shake the collection box if you have a badge to stick on your prospect's chest.

Thinking further ahead, there are plenty of holiday activities that can benefit from computer input. Children who are going away on holiday may want to design and make family calling cards with details such as their e-mail address to hand out to the new friends they might make.

For young children taking motorway journeys, a data collection sheet is useful for recording things along the route. The information can then be pooled next term for analysis.

Will you need lots of fancy hardware and software to do all this? No, a computer, preferably running Microsoft Word, connected to a printer with plenty of ink, wil suffice.

Word is technically a word processing package but over the years Microsoft has quietly added a host of graphics functions. For the projects outlined above, the Tables function is probably the most useful as it makes laying out text and pictures very easy.

For stickers or calling cards, the Draw Table option allows you to draw a layout as you would with pen and paper: you literally drag the mouse to draw your borders then add rows and columns where you want them Once your first sticker is complete, the "Copy and Paste" function allowsyou to rapidly fill the remaining sheet. If your design is text only, then the "Envelopes and Labels" function from the Tools menu of Word is more straightforward than creating a table, but you will not be able to add graphics.

Adding pictures to a table is easy. With the cursor in the relevant place, use the Insert menu, then find the file you want and import it into your table. It will appear in the cell as an "object" which you can easily resize or move by dragging.

Before you add text to a cell, use the Text Box function (from the Insert menu) to draw a box into which you will type your text. Word will treat your text as an object which means you can use the mouse to pick it up and re-position it just where you want it - fareasier and more flexible than using those old typewriter tab stops.

DEBBIE DAVIES

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