Monday, October 20, 2008

All yours! Fireman Sam***

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If your child likes firemen in general, or Fireman Sam in particular, this is the site you'd visit with great expectations. After all, the series itself is fun, and the site is bound to be full of nice games relating to fire safety. Well, Fireman Sam both lives up to expectations and disappoints in equal measure.

The home page in red, blue and yellow is attractive, and instantly recalls fire stations. Follow the safety button from the menu on the left to reach a page which has sheets about fire safety and hazards. The language and content is chosen to be easily understood by children. However, the 'fun' part is missing. Perhaps the series itself takes a heavy load on the imagination of the artists, so they have none to spare for an online animation here! That said, it is nonetheless valuable to have Fireman Sam endorse the safety tips you may be talking about without making much headway.

Click on the fun section to find recipes (!), downloadables and printing activities, and online games. There are twenty odd games, and although they are related to the series in one way or the other, none are specifically designed to teach children or reinforce the message of fire safety.

The quality of the games seems to decrease somewhat as you go down the line - the games in the beginning often open in separate windows, and are, if not large, of sufficient size. The ones towards the end are tiny in comparison, so that even if the concept is great - as in the one involving logical deduction to find out who likes which drink - the actual visualization is so poor that young kids lose interest. Also, the appearance of the games changes from polished to beginner-learning-flash. Most games rely on mouse movement or keyboard arrows; the difficulty level is not very high, so they are not likely to be challenging enough for tweens or the older kindergarten children, with a few exceptions. Here are a few games we like -

The parcel drop game here involves moving the helicopter to the postoffice, picking up a parcel and delivering it to the right person within a time limit. Interesting, especially for the younger tots.

The 'making a splash' game has the kids experimenting with a new kind of water canon - which throws balloons! Aim by positioning mouse at the window concerned, and click to shoot. With increasing level of difficulty, more and more windows get involved simultaneously and so it becomes the kind of fast game slightly older children enjoy.

This plumbing game involves logical reasoning, and is easily the best in the section in my opinion. Clicking on a tile changes the direction of the pipe and the aim is to provide a direct connection from left to right. Makes the child think about what is meant by continuity, and how it may be attained, and is as good as any jigsaw. (They also have jigsaws, and muddled up pictures to be sorted out by the way.)

The bug game is one of those whose size has decreased, but is still playable. Move the bucket by using the arrow keys to catch the ladybirds before they get your tomatoes. Remember that prolonged pressure on a key here will not lead to increased speed or even sustained movement, contrary to intuition, so you have to teach the child to press repeatedly. A child of three therefore should be encouraged to stick to the first level itself rather than trying hard to push keys fast and risk finger injury at this age. Their maize maze game is easier for younger children, with a large maze and easier navigation.

The url -
The site is run by HIT entertainment company (we discussed this earlier in the Fifi post). The series itself I think is developed by S4/C of which all I know is that it is Irish - I just can't get the site to open right!

P.S. If your story is too long to be posted in the comment section, post only one para there, and use the contactify form from the links on the right to mail the rest to me. Would love to see what you come up with!

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