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Traditional tales with a bonus

RAINBOW STORIES MUCH ADO AT RAINBOW'S EDGE. CD-Roms for Acorn computers. Pounds 59.95 and Pounds 69.95 respectively (both ex VAT). The Resource Centre, 51 High Street, Kegworth, Derby, DE74 2DA, Tel: 01509 672222.

Rainbow Stories is a compilation of 18 traditional tales retold by Derek Allen (who wrote Dread Dragon Droom) and read by a variety of famous people - like Anneka Rice, Julie Walters and Gary Lineker. Each is 15 pages long and each page has a number of charming animations.

The opening screen is a library in which a book can be selected. Each story page can be read as a whole or individual lines spoken. Reading can be made automatic whenever a new page is turned on screen. Animations on each page happen at random or can be activated by clicking the mouse on hot spots on screen. Click on a character and a speech bubble appears; but these are not read aloud. The program can be used with the mouse, keyboard, switches (for special needs) or an overlay keyboard.

Additional resources are also provided on the CD: the text of the stories, the covers of the storybooks as graphic files, a picture from each story and sample pictures of characters for use in activities away from the computer.

Much Ado at Rainbow's Edge is similar in format and characters to the enthralling Rainbow Stories, but includes a range of activities suitable for children up to Year 1. A scene outside a schoolroom leads to other options. Clicking on one of the children will take you to a different location in Rainbow's Edge, where you can find out about the locations and the characters.

Click on a group of children and they will take you to the character database where you can select one of more than 100 to read their story. Clicking on the school door leads to the classroom with four different activities: a character database, PSE database and a map of Rainbow's Edge. A range of activities includes comprehension, word study, prepositions, number questions and map questions and trails. The PSE database alone contains over 80 items from bullying to predators and prey.

There's plenty of scope for free play and for activities which children can do away from the computer. Children will learn most, however, when an adult is involved to offer suggestions and help. Most activities can be tackled individually or in a group. To help the teacher there are files of the text (for reference as well as for printing out), vocabulary lists and sample pictures.

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