Compendium Six logo

COMPENDIUM SIX * Six Education Games * £39.95 * GeniSoft * COMPENDIUM SIX is available from HB Marketing 0753 686000

Trying to drag your kids away from the joystick? Well here is a games collection with a difference: it is full of educational titles. Jason Holborn tests its IQ.

WITH MORE AND more British schools realising the potential of the Amiga as an effective teaching tool, parents too have started to drag their kids away from the joystick in favour of educational software. GeniSoft's latest offering is a selection of six already well-established educational titles that cover a wide selection of subjects and age groups. So is GeniSoft's Compendium Six the best thing to happen to education since the Amiga itself? Let us find out...

Calendar Quiz logo

This is a quiz designed to teach children the relationships between days of the week, between months, seasons and events of the year. It starts by teaching the basics behind the subject matter and then moves on to a series of tests, including sequence and spelling tests.

Calendar Quiz is not the most visually interesting educational title available, but it covers the subject matter well enough.

I am not totally convinced that it would keep a child's interest for long, so parental involvement is definitely needed to stop the little 'un rebooting the Amiga with a copy of Super Space Invaders in the drive.

Game, Set and Match logo

This is designed with the younger student in mind and aims to teach such fundamentals as shape recognition, the difference between colours, coins and basic numbers and their relationships. This vital learning material is presented in a colourful and entertaining format that will keep your children occupied for hours. I must admit that even I was captivated for some time. In all, it is a masterpiece of educational software design and should be at the top of every parent's shopping list.

Kids Type logo

Aimed at children aged between four- and eight-years old, this is a word processor that encourages creativity. The program uses big characters, a nice colourful front end and plenty of sampled sounds that will keep your child's interest high.

To make things even more exciting, also included is a game that encourages your child to learn how to type and improve their spelling skills. In all, it is a very enjoyable program that, while rather vague in its subject matter, will keep your kids thoroughly absorbed.

Weather Watcher logo

Here is one of those educational titles that is more of an activity program than a learning program. Children use it as a sort of weather diary. As the months pass, they can work out such things as the average temperature for a given month, the amount of rainfall and cloud cover, humidity and so on. All this information can then be pulled together to generate graphs and statistical tables. Weather Watcher does not quite cover a National Curriculum subject, but it is a very interesting program that will encourage your child to analyse information.


If your child's knowledge of the British Isles needs a bit of tidying up, then this program will prove very useful. The aim is very simple - to teach children the location of all the countries of the British Isles, including those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The program presents a map of the British Isles and then, through a number of tests. The child must guess where in Britain the country can be found. It becomes increasingly harder until the child must locate the country by its name only.

I must admit I am not too hot on the location of countries myself, so it certainly taught me a thing or two. And if it works on me, then it will work on anyone. In all, Where is it? What is it? is an absolutely brilliant program. Highly recommended.

Words and Numbers logo

As a child's grasp of those all-important three 'Rs' becomes more advanced, then this could well be the program to take your child's education one step further. It aims to teach the relationship between words and sentences by muddling them up and then asking the child to unmuddle them so that the words fall into the correct order. Numbers are also covered using a similar format and the program is designed in such a way that the parent or teacher can modify it to suit the child's own particular needs.

Although it is not particularly visual its format is well designed and the subject matter competently covered.

Kids Type logo Amiga Format Gold

Kiddies' DTP * £24.95 * GeniSoft

A mainstay of primary schools is a word processor with friendly 'teacher's writing': now you can have one at home, as Pat Winstanley discovers...

A dults are well catered for in the field of word processors and DTP, but there is little around aimed specifically at children. What programs there are tend to be cut-down versions of more mature offerings which, while simple to use, do not really grab a child's imagination. Kidstype is the first such package which my own primary-age children are actually keen to use.

Roger Wharmby, the author, appears to have started from the concept of an easy-to-use pattern creation program, and then modified it to deal with typed-text too. The result is little short of astounding.

Several options are instantly available. The first real attraction for the child is the opportunity to select illustrated letters from the border and use them to make words. Harder work, and therefore slightly less appealing is the option to type text from the keyboard, but children soon realise that by mixing the two styles they can soon produce visually attractive screens.

In addition to illustrated letters, several sets of coloured patterns are available which allow colour and text to be splashed around the screen. To adult eyes the effect and their enjoyment encourages experimentation with the keyboard.

Helping hand
When typing plain text a child is often stuck for the correct spelling. For younger children Kidstype incorporates a 'prompt' command which is selected simply by clicking. This brings up a list of around 100 words suitable for infant reading age: several for each letter of the alphabet. Clicking on a word drops it into the text screen in a similar manner to adult spell checkers.

The word list can be altered to contain up to 100 of your own choice of words - handy if a child has a 'block' about certain spellings. The option provides a short-cut to avoid literary flow drying up due to uncertainty of spelling - a common problem with children are trying to cope with both the mechanics and the creativity of composing prose.

Fun stuff
No package for children is complete without an element of gameplay and Kidstype's method is, while not novel, fitting for the program. Each letter of the alphabet is shown in cameo on the top border and the game involves choosing each letter (in any order) then trying to spell the name of the pictured object.

This is not as easy as it sounds, since some of the pictures are well nigh unidentifiable: but, as with the word list, the pictures can be modified using a paint package. With some imagination on the part of an adult this could result in a picture-letter set comprising of mathematical shapes, parts of the body and so on - the scope is vast.

Pictures and words
The pull-down menus are unusual too. Instead of terse text options which often demand lateral thinking from the user, each option is copiously illustrated. Even young children cope easily when offered a graphical clue - adults too, sometimes!

A lovely touch is the speech option. Simply select various combinations from the menu and screen to have the computer recite text, sound out a letter on typing or pronounce an individual word or letter from the screen. This option is excellent for children with reading or spelling difficulties since they can check that the word or letter typed sounds like they think it does. As a confidence builder and an encouragement to experiment it is probably the most useful features of the package.

I certainly have no hesitation in recommending this package to anyone who has pre-school children, especially because it is likely to remain in use right through to their senior school.

Kids Type logo

Kids Type is not what you may assume, a typing tutor for the young; true, it does encourage use of the keyboard, but it is more an exercise in spelling and combing words than in bashing the old QWERTY keyboard.

The program is aimed at 4-to-8-year-olds, and costs £24.95. it comes in a sturdy plastic case on a single disk, which can be backed up, with a 10-page glossy instruction leaflet.

The main display is very colourful, featuring an illustrated alphabet and icons for picture, shape and other exercises. Prompts and any text you type in appear in the centre of the display, and you can pick up the pictures from the border and position them anywhere among the test - in other words, you can put together your own alphabet teaching games.

There is also a 100-word library which you can scroll through, picking out the words you want and dropping them into the window to assemble simple stories. The function keys allow you to insert spaces into lines of text at the cursor position, insert a whole blank line, delete words and so on.

Another part of the program is a spelling game, which starts with a library of 26 words, which can add to be creating your own ASCII files. At the bottom of the screen are action boxes which allow you to switch on or off the Amiga's built-in speech facility, alter the screen colours and text speed. Text or graphics can be dumped to a printer, files can be saved for later reuse, and you can change either the fonts or the pictures using a standard graphics package such as Deluxe Paint.

Despite its slightly misleading title, Kids Type is a well-programmed and particularly colourful program which should encourage any child to lay aside his joystick and concentrate on the keyboard for a change.