Griddle and Matchplay are early learning programs for use with pre-reading children of three years and over.
Griddle offers a wide range of playing options, which can be selected from menus, giving the teacher or parent excellent control over the level of difficulty of the game. The program design confining the control to Spacebar and Return is very useful for young children.
The idea of the game is very simple - there is a hidden picture which can be revealed bit by bit by correctly matching shapes or numbers. The screen shows a grid containing 4, 8, 16 or 36 boxes, which will then appear in the test box. The child has to find a box in the grid whose contents match the test box.
If a correct match is made, the part of the picture under the chosen box is revealed. This adds another dimension to a useful but fairly ordinary matching program as it allows the children to predict what they think the picture might be, so helps to stimulate language development.
Matchplay contains three programs: Match, Garden and River, designed to help develop memory, observation and logic - skills important in many early learning activities. The first, Match, is really a shape recognition/matching game to prepare for the other two and introduces six animals and two human shapes which appear in the second game, Garden.
The eight shapes are shown on a grid at the top of the screen and each shape is repeated in a line at the bottom of the screen. One of the upper groups is marked with an "X" and the object is to find the shape in the bottom line which matches the marked shapes. The position of the shapes is random, so no two games are the same.
Garden and River provide a sort of Kim's game. In the first, the child is shown the position of characters in the scene which then disappear and the child has to replace these in the correct locations. River does not show the positions first so the child must use logic to decide - will it be the duck that fits on the pond or the sheep? I liked the idea, but found it somewhat spoiled by some rather crude graphics - some of the figures were very small! A useful option enables the games to be run consecutively.
The programs are very user friendly - the programming of the Break key to return the user to the menu and the very useful sound level control option - and the instruction booklets were clear, concise and devoid of pretence. Neither program does anything that cannot be done with pen and card, but for all that are useful for the preschool and nursery age child.
While it is unlikely that many homes will have a Concept Keyboard, schools that have would find an option to run the programs with one a useful addition so that screen pictures could be matched with those on the overlay.