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spacer all reviews > > > social studies software

Talking Walls


Ages 8 to 14

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Talking Walls Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Based on the inspirational book "Talking Walls", written by Margy Burns Knight and illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien (a must-read for children, educators and parents alike!), this literature-based software program exposes children to various cultures from around the world. The CD-ROM, which comes packaged with a paperback copy of the book, also features the entire book, complete with illustrations and framed by a navigational toolbar that allows users to travel beyond the beautifully written words to learn more about the places, history and cultures that invoke them.

Each page in the book describes a wall in a different part of the world, and the meaning it imparts. The walls are widely diverse; from those bearing Aborigine drawings or Mexican murals, to the exterior walls of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which were designed to look like the landforms of Canada, to the Great Wall of China and the now defunct Berlin Wall. Users can move one screen at a time through the interactive 'book', reading and/or hearing the pages read aloud, and clicking on highlighted words for dictionary definitions, view the 'Table of Contents', which offers quick links to each wall, or use the "Map" option to see where the walls exist geographically and access those of particular interest. In addition to these options the CD includes a "Beyond the Walls" button which offers abundant background information for each of the walls.

Educational Value
Literature itself is an important gateway to learning. It personalizes targeted information, and makes it more accessible to the student. This program not only succeeds in tying literature to social studies via a beautifully written work, it also does an admirable job of providing background information in the form of text, actual video footage, pictures, timelines and more, and the means to dig further into each subject and find almost infinite amounts of associated material. The program's Internet option allows kids (and interested parents) to connect to Edmark's website, which provides additional activities to stimulate students' thinking about the walls, as well as links to videos, virtual tours, first-hand reports and more through previewed Internet sites.

Also included is a Teacher's Guide which offers lesson and enrichment ideas.

Kid Appeal
Talking Walls was well-received by our student, teacher and parent testers, all of whom were touched by the book and amazed at the abundance and relevance of, and ease of access to included information.

Ease of Use / Install
Talking Walls installs without difficulty. The user interface is unobtrusive and intuitive. The Internet connection worked on our test machines without a glitch -- the program automatically opens the user's default browser even if an alternate browser is currently open on the desktop. In the process of testing the program, we encountered one dead link which we reported. Because much of the information is provided via the Internet one can assume that it will include the latest and most up-to-date information, a big plus for young researchers.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This literature-based social studies program is artfully and technically superior. As one of our teacher tester's reported "They did their homework!"

See SuperKids' comparisons with other social studies software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98, Pentium or faster cpu, 50 MB free hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 640x480, 16-bit (high color) display, Double speed or faster CD-ROM, Windows-compatible sound card.

Mac: System 7.5.3 or higher, Power PC or faster cpu, 50 MB free hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 640x480, 16-bit (high color) display, Double speed or faster CD-ROM.

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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