Occasionally educational games come off... and in The Yellow Brick Road, which has been around for some time, I think they do. The program is aimed at children of seven to nine. The handbook suggests that the children need to know a little of the story of Dorothy and her adventures with the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and the Lion. "The activities generated by the program are designed to develop language skills through aspects of problem solving, decision making, prediction and projection."
The program comes in three parts, any of them being available from the main menu. In part one, the children are invited to help Dorothy and Toto collect the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Lion in order to begin the journey to the Wizard's Castle. At various locations on a map the characters or items required to effect their release can be found. They have problems to solve at some of the locations and can refer back to the map at any stage.
Having crossed the ditch, the characters set off on their journey along the Yellow Brick Road towards the Emerald City. At each stage the children have to complete an activity - breaking a code, colour mixing, making words from letter blends. After successfully completing the activity they are given letters which can be rearranged to form a password for part three.
The final part of the adventure requires the players to complete various tasks to help the characters reach their goal. To obtain help from the Wizard they must find and destroy the Wicked Witch of the West. They must follow all the roads of Oz and overcome a variety of hazards - number patterns, codes, sentence ordering, reflected letters.
The handbook is very helpful to busy teachers - and those who find adventures beyond them! - giving solutions to the problems. The support material includes a range of extension activities to support some of the problems that appear in the program all very nicely presented on coloured card, plus some photocopy masters of the main characters. Used at the handbook suggested as part of a topic based on the story of the Wizard of Oz, this package has a lot to offer.