Television: pick of the week

14th March 2003 at 00:00
Toys with Magic Grandad BBC2 Mondays, March 17-31, 11.15-11.30am

Tom and Melissa have a magic grandad (played by Tim Healy), who transports them back into the past. They find out about children's games and toys in the 1950s, just as sweet rationing was coming to an end; in 1969, at the time of the Moon landings; and way back in the 1870s, when toys were made of wood and metal. The three programmes - intended to give five to seven-year-olds a sense of passing time and history, both in and outside living memory - are fun to watch and full of information. They are also available on one cassette in a Video Plus pack, together with activity sheets, colour photocards and lesson plans. BBC Schools, pound;32.08. Tel: 0870 830 8000

Maths Mansion C4 Tuesday and Wednesday, March 18-19, 25-26, 4-5.40am

This programme exploits the reputation of maths being everyone's least favourite subject and a form of torture devised to keep children from enjoying themselves. Chris Jarvis plays the evil master of the mansion (a Gothic location clearly inspired by Fort Boyard), who will not release the poor creatures in his power until they have done their sums properly.

However, his plans are constantly being foiled by a much more friendly character (Charlie Dower), who wears a tweed jacket with patches on the sleeves and spends his time counting sheep in pens. Animations, graphics and songs complete the furniture of the mansion, and although "Multiples Are So Much Fun" may not make it to the charts, it should stick in children's memories long enough for them to learn what a multiple is and how it works. Parts one and two this week are for nine to 10-year-olds; parts three and four next week are for 10 to11-year-olds. "No leaving without learning," snarls the mansion master.

All About Us: Crunch Time C4 Wednesdays, March 19 and 26, 10.15-10.30am

This series for seven to 11-year-olds follows four children on their visits to the dentist. The idea is to give reassurance by explaining various dental procedures, including treatment for teeth damaged in accidents.

There is also advice on keeping teeth and gums clean and healthy, stressing the importance of personal hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. Both programmes are available on video (4Learning, pound;14.99. Tel: 08701 246 444) and there are programme notes, with suggestions for classroom activities.

Germany Inside Out BBC2 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, March 18-20, 4-5am

Five programmes, introduced by journalists Steve Crawshaw and Annette Gerlach and broadcast for overnight recording, give a portrait of Germany from Munich to Berlin, with subtitled interviews in German. We start in the south of the country; then, in programme two, move to Cologne and the Rhine; then over to Dresden and former East Germany, up to Hamburg and the north, and finally to Berlin. Imaginative teachers will find promising material here for A-level language learners and for geography and environmental studies lessons.

Off Limits: Get Working C4 Thursdays, March 20 and 27, 10.25-10.50am

A two-part series for 14 to 19-year-olds showing examples of students who balance going to school with the demands of a job and talking, in particular, about their rights as workers. The programmes are also available on video and there are notes on the Channel 4 website (www.channel4.comsecondary). Another "Off Limits" two-part series on work experience is also available on video.

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