Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lost ideas and Cartoonito***

Today as I was trying to remember the extraordinarily brilliant idea for this post I had last night, I was reminded an old wish of mine, for a book in which one could get all answers. All of us, have at one stage or another, for one reason or the other, wished for a guidebook to life, a companion handbook, a phrase book or a dictionary, a template - something to help us through life when things get in a bit of a muddle. How much comforting to have a map to tell us the right way! A how-to guide to assembling your life! In 1856, Houlston and sons published a book entitled "Enquire within upon everything", which proved to be such a success that 113 editions were published by 1923. (Source - wikipedia, and some googling for old books). How could it not be, with such a foreword by the editor Robert Kemp Philps as this -

"Whether you wish to model a flower in wax;
to study the rules of etiquette;
to serve a relish for breakfast or supper;
to plan a dinner for a large party or a small one;
to cure a heache;
to make a will;
to get married;
to bury a relative;
whatever you may wish to do, make or to enjoy, provideed your desire has relation to the necessities of domestic life, I hope you will not fail to 'enquire within.'

Ever since I read about this book in one of Miss Marple's dialogues (the book referred to as belonging to her mother), I have been fascinated by it. Not perhaps the real book, which I expect would be of little use to me in our world, but the idea of the book, the title of it. Imagine a book where you could get to know everything you ever needed to, or wanted to! All books in the world are but components of this GREAT book, THE BOOK, in fact, which would hold all the information that was ever there... And you could just open it, and ask, and the answer would be there... So romantic, this notion, so beguiling! I wished it were possible, that I could have a whole library at my fingertips, always... Of course, the lure was in the books, not just in the information, but still!

The only other book from fiction, which has interested me so much, has been the hitchiker's guide to the galaxy, with the words 'DON'T PANIC' written on it, in big capital letters. Whether or not the guide contained useful information became irrelevant in face of the comforting preface such as this! With the net at my fingertips, at least my wish for an 'everything' book has been granted in a fashion. Now if only someone would make me a book which will comfort me when I can't remember post ideas!

Cartoonito is a pre-school dedicated tv channel developed by Cartoon Network for the UK. They claim to have 'followed the example of the learning through play framework to create free, fun and educational games for your child. The Early Years Foundation Stage is set up by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCFS) and used in nurseries and play groups. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is made up of six areas of Learning and Development...' These are -

'1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
2. Communication, Language and Literacy
3. Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
4. Knowledge and Understanding of the World
5. Physical Development

6. Creative Development

I will not take up issue regarding how Scooby-Doo the pup can teach problem solving skills or increase understanding of the world - but I will say that some of the programs are promising, and presumably, useful. At any rate, I would prefer to have a milder version of Scooby Doo than the full blown (and to my mind silly) one on Cartoon Network! However, our focus at home, and here on this blog, is different. Let us explore the site for some online fun for the little ones.

The presentation is cute, which I am a sucker for! See those shapes - they each have names and personalities, and I am told they introduce the shows on the channel. Not having a tv at our home, we have no connect with them save their presence on this page, and the links they lead to. Bobble, for instance, will list the games -

The Adventure valley from Land before time is a well designed game which actually consists of five separate ones - click on each of the characters in the main menu to make a choice. Starting anticlockwise, these are Sharptooth sneak, Cavern slide, Boulder bash, Rock hop, and Running Wild. All games have three levels, with a gentle no fuss easing of one into another. Cavern slide is about side to side mouse movement, as is Running wild, the difference being the context. Boulder bash needs single clicks of the mouse on moving targets (note that unlike most games, the pointer will not change into a hand to indicate area to be clicked), and Rock hop requires varying amounts of click and hold to allow Littlefoot the dino to cross a broken bridge. Sharptooth sneak is the most innovative one, featuring Petrie hiding from a giant dino in a rock cavern. Click and hold the mouse to move him from column to column, so that he continues to avoid the vigilance of Redclaw. If you release the mouse while he is moving, he will scamper back to the previous column. There is no scurrying back if he has reached the next though. When spotted, Redclaw will only roar, but that roar brings little hands to ears!

Krypto the dog features in a X-ray fetch game involving finding hidden objects in a museum within a limited time, using his special ah, faculties. It was a promising idea, had there been some kind of correlation between the shape required and the shape hiding it - something to challenge a little mind. Think of the art pieces that could have been included, the mini lessons given! Instead, there is no need even to look at the shapes required. All you have to do is to go on clicking at everything that can be clicked, and the 'finds' will be collected for you. Disappointing.

The painting games are lovely, allowing for full screen and printing, and with the reset option though not 'undo', with the cutest proviso of splattering the background with colours by banging on the keyboard. Can you imagine how much fun that is? Sometimes the foreground hardly gets coloured! A little drawback, at least on our machine, seems to be that the splatter doesn't work in full screen mode. Also a pity that each image is labeled as a separate game whereas in reality it is the same game with different images.

Sam the firefighter features in a couple of games in which Norman is in trouble, like lighting a fire or landing in a tree, from which Sam and Dilys rescue them. The format is of a storybook, with words highlighted as they are read but both the speed of reading and the words used are not suitable for pre-schoolers. The story ends with a question regarding the means of rescue: ladder vs rope, hose vs bucket, followed by gentle moralizing. Rather damp; it wasn't requested ever again at our place, but may be useful for the very tiny ones. The full screen option with simple graphics, and the choice of turning sound off so you can read yourself, is helpful there.

The counting game is useful for small children too. The graphics are neat, there is sound and animation when you hover on the animals, and the pace easy. A good one! I would love to see more along this line, perhaps including word building as well. There are also a few other games - memory games, body matching games and one jigsaw.

Clicking on the activities link will lead you to a short selection of nursery rhyme videos, some colouring sheets, and some other activities like dot to dot and differences. There are also four masks to print out. Create a picture will insert your uploaded picture in a frame incorporating the cartoonitos. Nothing elaborate but sufficient.

The videos are more numerous, but short, too short in duration! There are karaoke ones too, if you have a budding genius :) The french section I gave a miss altogether, being wholly unacquainted with that language, so would love to hear your take if you go through it.

There are ads of course, but only related to the channel itself. All in all, worth a bookmark for occasional play.
The urls -

Cartoonito - http://www.cartoonito.co.uk
Games - http://www.cartoonito.co.uk/games
Adventure valley -
Easter painting - http://www.cartoonito.co.uk/games/painting-game-easter
Animal counting game - http://www.cartoonito.co.uk/games/how-many

P.S. If you are interested, here is the link for downloading the guidelines suggested by the channel for skills which are a must before starting school - http://www.cartoonito.co.uk/store/downloads/pdf/hi-5_curricumum.pdf

P.P.S. You can read the 89th edition, circa 1894, of 'Enquire within upon Everything' on Gutenberg, or the 1865 one in Google, and doubtless a few more here and there. If you have a little time, do go and check it out, for a few smiles, a few useful tips, and for homage to the people who have made our life as easy as it is now with the net!

P.P.P.S. When you are quite finished reading, do check this last page out! If you google, you'll find many versions of this, but the first look is always the best one! Doesn't it remind you of the restaurant at the end of the universe?

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