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True Blue Friend is a multimedia introduction to whales for young children. Starting with a simple main screen, the user can choose from among five educational topics, two games, or an illustrated storybook.
The five educational topics cover basic body part descriptions of whales and fish, behaviors of humpback whales, descripions of a dozen different types of cetaceans, a brief explanation of echolocation, and a look at the threats facing marine mammals. Most of the information is presented in text form (typically a single paragraph), with the option of having the computer read the text to the user, together with a short video or enlargeable photo example.
The two games in the program include a concentration matching game, where the user has to flip over and match pairs of whale flukes; and a jigsaw puzzle game, where the user selects one of 40 photos, which is then sliced into 16 pieces for onscreen reassembly.
The illustrated storybook in the program, is an e-book version True Blue Friend, a tale about an old blue whale that befriends a young humpback whale.
The CD-ROM also includes an Activities folder, which contains Adobe Acrobat (pdf) files of 21 reproducible activities (math, science, reading) that supplement the interactive lessons. According to the publisher, these activities correlate with state standards in reading, math, and science for grades K-2.
True Blue Friend provides a broad-brush introduction to whales, and to a lesser extent, dolphins, porpoises, and fish. Photos and short videos make the information clear and more interesting than many textbooks. The printable worksheets, however, leverage the topic more than the content. For example, a reading worksheet might ask the user to circle the object which begins with the sh or the ch sounds, as in 'fish and chips', respectively.
Our young student testers found True Blue Friend interesting -- once they accepted the fact that this isn't a videogame-style, edutainment program. Younger users were more willing to sit through the educational content; older children who were already familiar with cetaceans, tended to be more interested in playing the concentration game and jigsaw puzzles.
True Blue Friend runs directly from the computer's CD-ROM drive; no installation is required. The CD-ROM includes the program and a folder of printable worksheets - both were easy to access and use.
True Blue Friend is suitable for homeschooling, computer lab, and classroom environments. It is best used as an introductory source of information on the topic of marine mammals.
PC: Windows 98/NT/2000/XP, 800x600 pixel color display, CD-ROM drive, Quicktime Software.return to top of page
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