Software Review:WordBird's Word Land
Now available at Amazon.co.uk!
Jeanne Perrett was kind enough to send a copy of her delightful CD-ROM program, WordBird's Word Land, to be reviewed here. Thanks, Jeanne!
WordBird's Word Land came packaged in a cute box containing the CD-ROM, a detailed user's manual with screen shots, a 52-page activity book that is photocopiable and a pack of coloring pencils too! The program is very easy to install and use. In fact, it's so easy to use that it keeps kids busy for quite a long time without much teacher/adult support.
The CD-ROM contains activities, games, songs and practice with over 400 nouns in 20 different themes. Here's a screen shot of the menu with the topics:
A delightful feature of the main menu is that when the mouse pointer is moved over the buttons, a related sound is played. My favorite is the FAMILY button, where a baby gurgles oh-so cutely! Pass the mouse over the COUNTRY button and birds sing. Over the LESSONS button, children are making noise, and so on.
After choosing a topic, the program goes immediately to the READ activity. Here, WordBird will introduce the 20 new vocabulary words for the lesson, then students can choose one of several activities to practice the new vocabulary. My personal favorite activity was PLAY.
PLAY: Each topic has a different, cute game - VERY cute! Each game practices the newly learned words. Most of the games are geared toward reading the word and making the association with the item, so the games are really geared toward kids who can already read.
My favorite game is in the topic of colors - the user gets to paint a pretty castle scene by reading the colors in the different sections and clicking on the correct color on the pallette. It was really fun! (What can I say?! I'm a big kid at heart!) My second favorite was the WordBird version of the old arcade game, "Frogger."
Another fun type of activity is called FIND. Word Bird asks questions such as, "Where is the ____?" or "What is ____ used for?" about the newly learned vocabulary words and the kids click on the correct item with the mouse. It's a very useful task, and fun too.
Again, my personal favorite is in the topic of colors - as each color is located, the frog on the magician's table changes to that color and does something different. In the photocopiable workbook, there is a corresponding scene where kids color each bottle on the magician's shelves and then label each color. The colored pencils all correspond to the names of the colors learned too - no weird names like "burnt sienna!"
Another exercise is called SPELL. This has to be the most difficult section of the CD.
The same cards used to introduce the vocabulary words appear with blanks below for the number of letters in that word. The student must type in the letters to spell the word. My complaint here is that on the dark backgrounds, the letters are totally invisible, and there is only one chance to get the word right. If the student hits the wrong key, too bad. If WordBird has a second edition, I hope this task is changed to an easier one with a different font that is readable on all the background screens for the game. Also, an easier type of task for younger spellers would be to simply copy (type) the printed letters on each card, but that isn't an option.
The last activity is called SONG: A jukebox opens and the user has the choice of ten different songs. The words appear on the screen and the kids can sing along (if they can read). There is an option to turn off the singing, so that the kids can use this an a karaoke-type of activity. Some of the songs are quite cute, and some need reworking in the next edition. :-) My only serious complaint here (again) is that the words are written in dark purple, and the background is black - it's very hard to see the words! Not a good color-combo, in my opinion. I liked the "Moving" song the best - it's funny to listen to, but I think that a simpler song with a recognizable tune for each topic would have been much more effective.
One drawback for speakers/students of American English is that the entire WordBird's Word Land program (programme!) is in British English - the spelling, the accents of the speakers, the choices of vocabulary, even down to the size of the paper in the photocopiable workbook. I really hope that an American English edition comes out soon, because the program is very good. I must say, though, it was REALLY fun to practice speaking with WordBird's regal accent! As an American, I had LOTS of fun mimicking the words and trying to get the accent right!
Overall, I REALLY liked WordBird's Word Land. The variety of activities is good, the exercises are engaging, fun and interesting, the graphics are cute, the sounds are great and the animations are adorable!
I definitely recommend WordBird's Word Land!
Now available at AMAZON.COM.UKKaye Mastin Mallory,
TESOL English Instructor
Webmaster -The English Zone-
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