New series of The Hoobs and First Edition are the highlights of 4Learning's opening weeks for the autumn term at primary level, while BBC Schools has new programmes for Watch and Pod's Mission.
The Hoobs are jolly puppet characters who encourage pre-school children in a variety of entertaining and, naturally, educative activities, while slightly older children (eight to nine-year-olds) may learn about habitats, keeping warm, solids, circuits and conductors without realising that they are doing science, through the games of Pod's Mission.
Meanwhile, new units for Watch look at the Christian tradition and the weather, in the latter case using 3D animation, poetry, music and pictures. The Tudors and after are the focus of C4's work in primary history this term, with repeats of Tudor Times, reminding us of the discomforts of life in 16th-century England, and that excellent series Jamie and the Angel, a dramatisation which should help its viewers to assess historical evidence, as well as introducing the life and times of its subject.
BBC Schools' Primary Geography uses glorious photography to explore the theme of mountains and coasts: there is a new Video Plus pack for this unit, with all the programmes, teachers' notes and material for class discussion, as well as the programme Writing About the Landscape.
Geography Junction (C4) starts with a fine series on Jamaica. Primary maths is covered in 4Learning by Number Crew (for five to seven-year-olds), Star Maths (five to nine) and Maths Mansion (nine to 10), all of which were reviewed here last year. In English, there are repeats of Rat-a-Tat-Tat, Writing House and Write Away! (all on C4), plus that charming series, Animated Tales of the World. The Animated Tales have also been dubbed in French and German for modern languages.
BBC Schools has a youth drama for secondary pupils called Dead Drunk and is focusing on curriculum bites for science, history and religious education at key stage 3-4. Middle English (C4) will rerun the series Writing for Kicks, using football as the inspiration for written work.
Also repeated are the superb poetry series Arrows of Desire and the complete plays of Samuel Beckett (both C4). No dumbing down, but much to talk about and to be previewed in greater detail as the term gets properly under way.
For full schedules: www.channel4.co.uk learningmain programmes autumn2002.cfm www.bbc.co.ukschoolswhatsontvindex.shtml