Guide to the web-site and Bears CD-ROM

The contents of this page will answer some questions and explain what the site and CD-ROM is all about and ideas on how to use them with your children.

The main purpose of this site, is to provide support for the BEARS CD-ROM. It contains information and resources that tie in with the CD. These can be used in the classroom or home. While the ideas and the games can still be used without having the CD-ROM, it works much better when used as a complete package. There are three parts to this web-site which all have a unique purpose:

  1. Resources that can be used with the CD-ROM. These are the colouring and calendar pages, lesson plans and "Did you know?" section.
  2. Before you buy, promotional information about the CD-ROM can be found at the Bears CD page. For some unbiased opinions about Bears you can read North American and Canadian reviews at www.kidslikeours.com/rev/com/bears.htm and  www.reviewcorner.com/bears.htm.
  3. Low bandwidth web games. These are found on Ted & Floppy’s fun-page. These games have been designed to download quickly so have minimal detail, few sounds and no relation to what’s on the CD-ROM. But can still be fun to play.

Why not just use one medium instead of having a web-site and CD-ROM?
High bandwidth media such as detailed illustrations, animation and high quality music, take too long to download over the internet. The Bears CD-ROM, using a 56k modem, would take more than 30 hours to download, so it is better suited to delivery on CD-ROM. The advantage of having resources and lesson plans available on the internet is that new material and links can easily be added, and information can be changed. (For example; The section about the bagpipe has been revised several times after receiving new information from readers).

Some ideas for using the web-site
For home schools and classrooms, have a look at the lesson plans for art and music ideas. These give some good ideas for projects that can be used after children have been playing the CD-ROM. If there is only one computer in the classroom have children take turns playing the CD-ROM in small groups over several days, before starting one of the projects.

The "Did you Know?" section is useful for helping parents discuss some of the things on the CD-ROM and provide links to other related sites. The section on String, percussion and wind instruments has been popular and if, when painting, you have never been able to mix a nice purple, the page on Primary colours may be enlightening. Some of these will be of interest to older children as well.

Children can print out the 12 months of the year to colour in and make their own calendar. The Ted and Floppy stickers (or their own photos) can be used to stick on special days, such as holidays and birthdays. The colouring calendar has been a popular activity.

Children can make a wall frieze from the alphabet pictures, or use the scenes and character pictures to make a collage, their own story books or templates for art activities. The pictures of aircraft could be printed out and stuck on card to make a mobile.

How is the Bears CD-ROM Educational
Bears is both an Entertainment and an Educational product. It can be used just to have fun or adapted to a variety of educational needs. Bears is not drill software or teacher free software. In many cases this sort of software doesn’t allow for a child’s individual needs or abilities. Bears is the type of software that is sometimes described as educational software with a hole in it. There is a hole for the parent or educator to add their own material and motivation, and adapt it to the child’s needs. So there are no levels. The CD doesn’t try to teach and it doesn’t record the child’s progress. The child is free to explore and discover -  education comes from the interaction between the parent and child.

The main focus is on music appreciation and instruments. (While we are sceptical about some research claiming music, especially classical, will make children more intelligent, we do believe that playing and listening to good quality music can play an important role in early development). There are also some activities which encourage reading and counting.

Some suggested activities for different ages?
The suggested age range for the CD-ROM is 3-8. Bears has a broad appeal and is difficult to slot into a specified age group. Anyone, regardless of age, who enjoys good music and/or likes teddy bears will probably enjoy the Bears CD-ROM. The educational approach is more suitable to preschool age and new entrants, 2-5years (PCReview magazine claimed it was one of the best CD-ROM's for a 3 year old). It is excellent software for children who are new to computers and family’s who have children of different ages. Below is just some suggestions on how to use Bears with different age groups, though there will be overlaps depending on the child’s individual ability. You’ll find many more of your own ideas as you explore the CD-ROM.

1-2years Children of this age usually are unable to control the mouse and will need you to drive it for them. But there is a lot in Bears they will enjoy: Sit them on your knee and they’ll love the music, watching the little bears play their instruments. Sing the nursery rhymes as they are played by the bear orchestra. And dance with them to the Bears Blues Band.

Encourage them to play with the bears E.g. In the story ask your child to help the bear blow out the candles, you can join in too.

On page 3 of the story, make the sounds of the animals as they pop out of the draw. Moo with the cow and roar with the tiger. Join with the bed-knob who also tries to mimic animal sounds (change the picture on the wall to change the animal).

If your child is in a high chair, you can set the story to read by itself. This will give you 5 minutes of hands free time to get something done.

3-5years At this age children will be wanting to use the mouse, and if new to computers will pick up the necessary skills quite quickly. Playing tag with Oscar, in the story and trying to pop the balloons and bubbles, are good games to develop mouse skills. They will be wanting to explore and discover things on their own. You will still need to be there so they can show you what they have discovered.

Bears provides lots of opportunities to create interesting discussions. "Why won’t the bear let me do anything if I’ve left the element on the stove on?" "Why do I have to close the fridge door?" The "Did you know?" section of the web site may help you answer some of the questions you will be asked, and there are links to help you go searching with your child for more information and photos, e.g. of autogiro’s and aircraft. Try counting the bears that jump up from behind the bed after they've popped the balloons. Discuss the differences outside in the different seasons.

4-6years At this age children may become interested in words, and enjoy playing the word matching and playing their own tunes in the music game. They’ll also get a lot out of the lesson plans and resources from the web site.

7years and over At this age the CD-ROM will probably be too easy to keep their attention for long. But they’ll still like the music, and there is a lot of humour that will appeal to this age group. If they have younger siblings, they will enjoy playing it with them. They will be starting to develop their own computer presentations at school, and Bears is useful software to demonstrate how multimedia can be used. Like learning poetry or making movies, the best way to learn is by looking at good examples of what other people have done.

For more tips on what to do with the Bears CD-ROM have a look at the frequently asked questions and check out Ted’s Tips for tips on where to find some of the surprises.


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