Pick of the week;Schools television

30th April 1999 at 01:00
How do you make 100 years of history digestible for a child? You make it short is a good starting point. Children's BBC shows just how short with Rewind, a fascinating series of 90-second programmes.

From the turn of the century to the close of this one, memorable events have been snipped into tiny vignettes, in which a child records his or her own observations on the momentous happenings of the day.

The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the birth of the boy scout movement, the return of Halley's Comet, all milestones from an ebbing century which represent astonishing human achievement, disasters, or just blow-your-socks-off natural wonders, neatly distilled into super-brief, child-centred documentaries.

This week it's the tale of a man you've almost certainly never heard of - Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter by trade - whose experimental chippings changed the way children play when they developed into the Lego brick.

The programmes immediately after take in the 1930s and reflect a world at war: 13-year-old Henry Metlemann's recollections of a Hitler Youth rally; the bombing of Guernica from the eyes of a 10-year-old boy, and the invasion of Poland.

In those grim years there was a little light relief from none other than the BBC itself, whose first flickering pictures were broadcast from Alexandra Palace, and the Hungarian journalist Laszlo B!r", who invented that quintessentially 20th-century device, the ballpoint pen.

Rewind. BBC1. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Times vary but are usually 5.30pm. SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT

For teenagers, the growing power to make personal choices is one of the more thrilling, if not mildly terrifying, aspects of attaining adulthood. For some children, though, such choices are mind-blowingly incomprehensible.

A new batch of programmes from the special needs division of BBC Schools is devoted to this Herculean obstacle course. Go For It: Choices is aimed at 13 to 16-year-olds with severe learning difficulties or disabilities. It uses strong role models and has been designed to cultivate independence and help children with activities like going out for a meal, going away or even going shopping. All the programmes are sign-posted using Widgit symbols.

Go For It: Choices. BBC2. Tuesdays. 9.10-9.25am. BEST OF THE REST_ The skiing season in Europe is practically over for this year and there are many who will regard its passing with mixed feelings: for some, record snowfalls have provided arguably the finest conditions for many years; for the relations of those who lost their lives in avalanches there must be many unanswered questions, not least of which must be, could it have been avoided?

As schools are enthusiastic subscribers to winter sports, Death in the Alps will be a sobering but informative documentary. Although teachers who accompany school groups may well be experienced skiers themselves, most people who travel to the mountains for sport put their trust in others for advice and safety.

This programme asks some searching questions about the role of tour operators. Do they do enough to warn and protect their clients? What can individuals do to avoid danger? And is safety really the resort's first priority?

Death in the Alps. Channel 4. Monday, May 3. 8.30-9.00pm.

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