Boîte de Jeux is a CD-Rom designed to teach selected vocabulary to children through the use of seven fun, interactive games.
Its use is not limited to any particular age-group, as it contains 78 varied sets of words (both spoken and written) with associated pictures, that can be chosen to play four of the seven games.
In addition, new word sets can be created using the instructions given, widening the potential audience to anyone wishing to learn French.
The games are designed to be used on individual computers, which of course means that they are suitable for use on an IWB. The colourful graphics and clear pictures ensure that the children remain interested and attentive.
Although a very basic knowledge of French is necessary to start playing the games, the help and instructions are all in English and once one game has been played the format is simple to follow.
It is very useful, not only to help children to remember vocabulary, but can be used as a simple form of assessment to test their knowledge of words.
Each game allows the option to run through the vocabulary first so that the children recognize the pictures, words and sounds before they are expected to use them again.
This is a very useful tool for any teacher who has struggled to encourage children to learn vocabulary. The images and sounds that accompany the written words are clear, which appealed to visual and auditory learners.
This title is a fun way to help children to fix words in their head, and certainly a lot more appealing than constantly testing them to check that they’ve been learning their vocabulary.
The software was evaluated with both KS2 and KS3 children, working in loosely “set” classes of between 26 and 30, based on English ability. The children were aged between 9 and 13 years old.
Although the software could easily be used with individual computers, the evaluation took place with the software being used on a laptop computer attached to an Interactive White Board.
It was used in virtually every lesson over the course of four weeks, mainly as Starter and Plenary activities.
I felt this was when the software really excelled itself - as the short, sharp nature of the games allowed the children to be left wanting more.
The title was also used in refresher tasks when it became clear that vocabulary or adjectives had been forgotten by the children.
The fact that the games are so straightforward meant that they could be used in such a fashion without interfering with the general plan of a lesson.
The games themselves can be played by one person against the computer or two people against each other, for example using teams when used with a whole class, as often happened during the evaluation period.
The children found it very easy to use once the instructions had been explained to them.
Design and navigation
Although this software is suitable for any age and gender, the layout and general design are targeted at children of school age. The introductory screen of a box opening up is bright and welcoming.
There is music to accompany this screen which is bright and jolly, which can be turned off by clicking the ‘musique’ button at any time. The children appeared to like the music and soon became adept at singing along to it!
All games are available from the main menu screen which is very intuitive and therefore simple to use.
Within each game, instructions are available in English and all activities have the same game interface which the pupils understood at once.
A main feature of the product is the ability to create new sets of vocabulary for use through the games. A degree of ICT proficiency is required to create the new sets of words which can also hold accompanying sound and picture files.
The instructions for this option are available by pressing the ‘aide’ button on any screen. This feature made the product invaluable.
The software is suitable for any age learners and in itself can be used from KS1-KS5. Since the learning of vocabulary is something that many children may find difficult, this is an easy way to help them remember words.
It is also particularly suitable for use with low-ability learners, as it does not assume any prior knowledge or understanding of grammar as some software does.
The fact that new vocabulary lists can be added to it means that it can be used with children as both catch-up sessions and extension work for high achievers.
In addition, the games can be played at any one of three different skill levels and words can be hidden to make the games even more challenging, if required.
This allows the teacher to adapt the games according to the learning pace of the students or, if students are playing games on individual computers then they can control the pace of their learning themselves.
There is no formal assessment and the only learning outcome is that the children should know the vocabulary used in the games, which is easy to achieve since the children do not feel that they are working when using these games!
17 Apr 2007