Newest Review: ... that makes my son sleepy! Every programme is very colourful.. big pictures- easy for him to focus and include cartoon characters alon... more
Let the Tweenies teach them how to use a mouse
Member Name: Fritzthecat
Advantages: Educational & fun, doesn't cost anything
Disadvantages: The music can drive you crazy
When my older daughter, who is now 5 years old, started nursery, I found myself very soon confronted with the situation, that they tried to teach her how to use a computer and that she therefore showed more and more interest in mine.
Of course I had no software that would have been suitable or interesting for such a small child - she was 3 1/2 then - and I wasn't exactly too happy about her new-found hobby, as I deemed her a little bit too young to spend time
on a PC.
Now mummy, there's no use in trying to shut your eyes upon the way modern education goes - if you don't know nothing about computers you have no chance - even you are a toddler ...
The first thing I came about, when looking for some educational software for small children, was "play and learn" , which I found too expensive, even though Anna loved it . At that time we didn't have internet access, so there weren't many alternatives, so I stayed with them for a few months.
As soon as I had my broadband connection, Anna was 4 1/2 by then , I went to check the BBC's Cbeebies website and struck gold.
The "play and learn"- subscription was cancelled the same day and ever since Anna and her little sister Melis (3 yrs 9 ms) are having fun with the
Tweenies, Postman Pat, Bob the Builder,...
How does it look like ?
The website has a blue and yellow background, the colours are held in pastel and won't hurt your eyes.
To the left you have the index that offers you to choose between chapters such as Fun& Games, Story circle, Birthdays, E-cards, Grown-ups, ...
The centre part of the page is occupied by the pictures of the well known Cbeebies heroes, such as Andy Pandy, Fireman Sam, Bill & Ben, Bob the Builder, Tweenies, Fimbles, etc
Altogether there are 39 options to choose from and you will forgive me for not listing them all.
To the right there is a menu that allows you to choose between various seasonal topics, at the moment there are Easter Teletubby TV, Bookworm's Egg Hunt and others.
How easy is it to use ?
Now, this is clearly laid out for young users and is very easy to navigate around.
You - or your child - just clicks on the picture it wants to explore and here we go.
Come on, let's have a try...
The first ones on the menu would be the Teletubbies, so let's click on them .
It doesn't matter here how much I detest them for using this baby language or how much you hate them, they are the first on the top left and very likely therefore the first to explore.
It doesn't take long to load the Teletubbies page and you are greeted with a cheerful "Hello " by the Teletubbies.
Of course you can always put the volume down before you let your kids to start playing, but they won't have that much fun, so be prepared to be listening to the sounds, even if they might give you headache and drive you crazy.
The Teletubbie's page is laid out mostly in green, giving the image of the hilly-surrounding they are living in - with a bright rainbow in the sky.
You can find two frames on this page, the first one containing pictures of the individual Teletubby characters on which you can click with a very big, child friendly, arrow.
Each Teletubby has a ball next to it, which will tell all users who are able to read yet, what to expect.
Let's try the green Teletubby :
As soon as the arrow points on it, it shouts in Teletubby- manner the name it is known by : Dipsy
The ball next to Dipsy explains that we can expect "Fun and Games" here.
So, let's have some fun then...
Upon clicking on Dipsy you will find no less then 23 different games to play with. Needless to say, that I'm not going to explain them all now.
Let's try "hide and seek".
This game opens unto a page that is inset into the green- hillside background, in a purple window. You have the option to click on full-screen, to get rid of the background, as it might be easier for your child to have the full screen to move the cursor around, which is a big pink arrow, then only a small window.
The rules of the game are easy : Find the Teletubbies and click on them. If you do, they will jump out of their hiding place and shout a cheery " EH-OH".
There is a small information line which tells you, that this game is about mouse skills, and underneath, in a darker purple inset to the page, it gives you all the grown-up information you might need, to find out if this game is the right one for your kid or not .
In this case it tells us :
"This game stimulates your child's observation and concentration in seeking their hidden Teletubby. As they click on the character, they are in control of the game, which helps develop self-confidence. Using the mouse is good for hand-eye co-ordination, and so also helps motor skills."
What do the specialists mean ?
Anna (5) finds it "a bit boring", as all you have to do is click on the Teletubbies and see them jump out of their hiding place.
Melis ( 3 3/4) thinks it's fun. She is not quite as fast with the mouse yet and this really might help her to improve.
Now, with that many games to choose from, there is something for every-ones taste and abilities and sure enough, Anna's favourite at the moment is
"Mr Tumbles Star Game".
It is much more tricky then the Teletubby one and, if I would let her, she'd sit there for hours, trying to collect as many stars as possible by walking through gardens, or driving a sports-car.
For this game your child needs to be able to use the arrow buttons on the keyboard for directions plus the space bar for jumping. That's a little bit to much for our smaller one, but she enjoys watching her sister doing it.
My opinion :
The games are very user-friendly and easy to navigate.
The pictures are colourful and the kids love to play with their favourite TV heroes and even the animated characters of the Cbeebies moderators are easy recognizable.
The sound quality is good, but the songs and the background noises can get on your nerves.
There are categories that only play nursery rhymes and children's songs, for example at the Tweenies, where you can find a few dozen, and when your little angels keeps on playing them from A to Z you might soon want to throw your PC out of the window or feel the urgent need to assassinate Jakey, Bella & Co !
Each Cbeebie character has minimum one picture on his site to print out and colour in and this is something that definitely doesn't make me very happy, as the kids would love to do this and I don't really want to spend all the colour in my printer in one Cbeebies-session, just to provide them with some colouring in sheets, which they could get so much cheaper in a colouring-book.
Very often the kids will also find ideas for crafts, which is nice, but of course they straight would like to try and you will be the one to explain that you don't have the materials that are needed.
Sometimes you will find recipes, which are for the kids quite fun to create and they can be helpful to get them away from the computer.
The e-cards that every character offers you haven't been tried by us yet, as my children don't really have friends who have their own e-mail address yet and mine is always so full with other spam, that I can do very well without a musical e-card from the Tweenies.
One of my absolute favourites are the general knowledge parts, where the children can find out about animals, plants,...
"Come outside" offers here quite some, also the Tweenies.
Stories can be found with every character and they are usually told by the Cbeebies- hero and are nicely illustrated with changing pictures.
All in all there is some really great fun to be found here.
Don't hope, that you can just leave the kids to it and use it as an electronic baby-sitter, it doesn't work that way.
There is still quite a lot to read and instructions of the game-play have to be explained, so you'll have to stay and suffer through the music and background sounds, the "EH-OH,Dipsy !" and Josie Jump...
By the time they are old enough to read all this without help, they will also most probably have outgrown the site.
Generally I would recommend it for children between 3 and 7 years of age, depending on the personal development of the little one.
Don't worry if your child is close to the upper age, there is always the CBBC website, were the fun continues for the a little bit older ones.
Is there anything at all for grown-ups on the site ?
Yeah, apart from the headache that the songs will give you, there is the "Grown-ups" section.
This can be found on the left side of the home-page, as the last item in the written menu. No colourful picture to click on for us old folks, sorry !
There is an index to the left where you can choose between ;
- About Cbeebies : Tells you more about the channel and what their goals are
- How kids learn : Gives you ideas how to encourage your child to learn new skills for creative development, language, mathematiks, music...
- Things to do : some very good ideas here how to keep your little ones entertained, especially on those rainy days or on a shopping trip.
Ever done alphabet shopping or made a bed for a teddy bear ? No ? Go and have a look ...
- The Early Learning Curriculum : Explains what it contains, separate chapters for Surestart, England & N. Ireland , Wales and Scotland
- Special needs : Help for parents whose children have special needs, for example Autism & Asperger Syndrome, Blind and Visually impaired, Dyslexia,...
- Technical Info
- Message Board
This page also gives you information about upcoming BBC shows that have childcare as a topic, such as House of Tiny Tearaways and gives you some links that might be helpful for you, such as BBC Parenting, Parentline, Pre - School Learning Alliance and many more.
If interested, you can sign up for their newletter and, of course, you can check what's on CBeebies, to make sure that your little one is entertained while you read yourself through all this information.
Would I recommend it ?
The kids are having fun with it, apparently it is educational, it is free, there's lots to choose from and the whole site is made up very professionally - something you can expect from an institution like the BBC.
Considering all this, I would definitely recommend it, but for my own children this fun is restricted to two half hour sessions a week, as I don't want them to get too used to playing games on the computer all the time.
The last thing I want to do is breed a little couch-potato that commutes between TV,PS and PC and believes that the potatoes come invariably from Auntie Mable's garden.
Make sure your parental control is in good working order, just in case that the little angel decides to explore the world wide web on it's own, while you visit the toilet or make yourself a cup of tea/coffee.
Thanks for reading this, Sandra
Summary: Great site with all the cbeebies characters