Journeys and questions

28th February 2003 at 00:00
ENCOUNTER CHRISTIANITY SERIES. To Change the World pound;16.95

IN WORDS ABOUT JESUS pound;19.95 per pack of six. IN JOURNEYS ABOUT JESUS pound;19.95 per pack of six. IN QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS pound;19.95 per pack of six. By Alison Seaman and Alan Brown. Church House Publishing National Society. Tel: 020 7898 1557

With website support that includes lesson plans (visit, these books - three A5-size and one A3 - are designed for key stage 2. One copy only of the A3 book is required as text and pictures are large enough to be held up and shown to a class.

In the smaller books each double page has a key biblical text vividly illustrated in differing styles, along with a short, supporting passage. At the end of the book, short sections provide background, biblical context reference and ways of using the picture. In the A3 book, Christian ideas are introduced about God creating and changing the world, linked to the concept of transformation.

These books are very much at the lower end of KS2, progressing from an existing KS1 series. Full use of the website materials is essential, otherwise too hurried a dash could be made through the 25 pages of limited text in each of the A5-sized books.

BRINGING RELIGION TO LIFE: Faith Communities Resource for KS2 and 3. By Espresso Education. Tel: 020-8237 1200

Espresso is a subscription provider of educational broadband content offering video teaching resources and interactive pupil activities.

The first three modules of their RE programme, produced in partnership with the London Grid for Learning, cover Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam under four sections: god, worship, festivals and community, filmed in different parts of London.

Each video lasts one to two minutes, but there are also illustrated stories, still photographs, stored websites and recent news stories.

Children from the faith communities are seen at home and at school with comments on how they follow their faith. The material is very accessible and is suited in terms of tasks and literacy level to KS2, providing an attractive and enjoyable multimedia resource.

ADVANCED RELIGIOUS STUDIES. By Sarah Tyler and Gordon Reid. Philip Allan Updates pound;16.95. Tel: 01869 338652

This book is one of a growing number specifically written for ASA2 religious studies to cover philosophy of religion, ethics, Christian belief and practice and the New Testament.

Its fairly small font size, absence of illustrations and 500 pages mean that it is packed with information - there is no waffle. After each section there are summaries with key terms, exam tips and review questions.

The authors are seasoned examiners. This works to good effect throughout but especially in a useful introduction not only to the book but also to ASA2 Religious Studies.

It will not be an easy read in a sixth-form group with a wide range of abilities, but the text is clear and is broken up with subheadings, bullet points and words highlighted in bold.

RE WORKSHEET MAKER. ChristianityIslamJudaismLife of Jesus. Folens, pound;35.19 each including site licence. Tel: 0870 609 1237

RE Worksheet Maker is a series of CD-Roms which so far covers Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It provides an extensive resource-bank of black-and-white pictures, simple text for KS2 or 3, and suggested tasks, and can be used to customise worksheets for a particular syllabus or year group.

The main headings are the life of Muhammad, the five pillars, the mosque, sacred writings, rites of passage, festivals and special days, and Muslim life. The emphasis in the written text is on description. This may be helpful for some worksheet tasks, but disappoints overall as it does not sufficiently convey the challenge, excitement and claims of Islam and the central reality of submission to God. But it is easy to-use resource and lives up to its claim to produce material within minutes, even for those not fluent with ICT.

ULTIMATE ADVENTURE. CD-Rom. The Scottish and Danish Bible Societies, pound;39.95; unrestricted site licence pound;60. Tel: 0131 337 9701

Starting in the Hall of Time by Lake Galilee, Ultimate Adventure is a game-based resource offering nine interactive journey options, from the Exodus to the Resurrection.

I didn't take to the spooky comp re or the dubbing mismatch between mouth and speech in the animations. But as one progressed on an adventure (I sampled the Resurrection) it was more compelling. A mixture of curiosity - to surf all over the site despite the robotic PBA (Personal Bible Assistant) - and a sense of challenge are needed to assess the multimedia presentation with maps, articles, pictures, paintings and biblical text.

Some of the screen question options were good. For example, you can ask Mary Magdalene if she was Jesus's girlfriend, although her answer is rather evasive. This resource could be used in KS3 and with nine journey options might appear at several points in the RE scheme of work. But it lacks teacher's notes and the commentary in the on-screen notes is uneven.

Terence Copley is professor of religious education at the University of Exeter

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