Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The new ABC playground*****

Drum roll please! And trumpets! And much fanfare and cheering! Am finally starting on the Australia Broadcasting Corporation playground - the new site! (The old one is featured here - ABC kids playground.) It is a huge site, with many show related features, so those you will have to explore yourself, or wait till I feature them one by one. But what is great is that someone(s) at ABC loves kids very much, so the 'playground' is especially designed for children, without reference to any of the shows. Unless of course the playground itself is a show I am unaware of? But I must admit, it is beautiful. Both the visuals and the music are quite attractive. However - and that is a bit of a downer - the site is so heavy on flash, indeed it is all flash, that it can take eons to load up, and if your net connection if faulty or gets interrupted in between, say goodbye to games here. Also, if by chance your laptop is behaving like ours and shuts down without warning whenever made to play flash based sites for longer than five minutes (with no recollection of doing so on restarting either), you'll never be able to use it. (A fact which will hopefully explain this inordinate delay!)

Starting from the ABC kids page which we don't usually use, because we jump straight to the children's playground. It has a simple layout without any cluttering. Three main links to the playground, rollercoaster (an area for older children and teens), and ABC parenting site. Three other buttons - kids tv guide, program list and Kazam, which I figure is a featured game/show which changes, but which we haven't explored further.

Click through to the playground page, and you find this -

A beautiful, colourful page with nice big pictures and bits of descriptions to help you choose. There is a bit of overlap though, eg. the games and activities button right below that treasure chest - see that? The same is also linked by the teddy bear sitting at the bottom of the page. Or the links to 'five minutes more' and 'in the night garden' in the second row as well as the third. In any case, the treasure chest is the link to the playground I spoke of earlier. Beneath that, the games and activities link will take you here -

which is a great page showing exactly what games you can expect to play with which character. As they put it, there are 'pictures to colour, party packs to make and computer goodies for you to enjoy', and you can know at a glance where you want to go. Apart from BBC (cbeebies) and Uptoten, this is the only site I have come across which has such a viewer friendly index.

If you wish to choose from the default page, you will find the third row showing all the tv shows' games, and below that the tv schedule themselves. Scroll a bit lower for the playground radio which works just dandy if you have a high bandwidth, and has a cute appearance as well as nice selection of songs to hear. See that song - 'It's starting to rain', by Justine Clark? I loved it even more than my kid!

Or you could just leave off exploring for another day and click through to the playground itself.

Now this is nearly a full window, and the graphics are well designed to be smooth, just right for viewing. The accompanying music is light and melodious. To begin with, you could try taking Ruby's tour, in which she accompanies you to various other lands, where you may play their games if you wish or continue. I suggest that you first finish the tour because there is no way to do so if you click on a game instead. When we first found this site, we chose to click on each character in turn and find out by ourselves though.

Incidentally, the graphics when loading are also very cute!

Each of the characters has three or four games, some of which are quite unique. Artie above, for instance, has this draw and dance game where whatever you draw on the canvas will dance in time to the music along with her! Which is why you see my doodle of a flower merrily dancinghanging over the sand without any canvas to support it :)

In all the games, the flag with query icon at the right lower corner will always help you with information about the game should you forget it midway. The sound icon is for switching sound on and off. The little booklet lists all the games with each of the characters, and you can change without going back to the main page at all. The only problem is that these icons, in black and white, and with a nut in their centre, aren't all that self explanatory. But the advantage is that if you use this route, it will not ask if you really want to quit the game, which it would otherwise.

I will not mention each and every game on the site: let there be some surprise awaiting you! But the games are truly designed for the pre-schoolers, easy on the finger and the mind. Here you see the 'follow the pattern' memory game, which is like most others and rewards the correct pattern with a bouncy dance. But Kurl will anyway gyrate to the music, so it is even more attractive for the little ones! And do try out their songtime for the theme music. That is addictive, that tune is!

There is music associated with many of the games here. Even Spana, when she has finished making a robot, likes to make it dance. Or at least, my tiny one does, after each robot!

And here you see Zip (the smaller figure) and Rollo on a special see-saw to catch and eat the cotton candy clouds, where you help by clicking on the right coloured button, at the right time.

The url for the first three pages, in that order -, and

Go on, have fun!

P.S. Of all the other links not explored here, here is one that I did want to include - boardgame. It has one of the characters, Ruby, I think, as a board game pawn, which you have to move by rolling your dice. Each turn of the dice will lead to one brief game from the playground. Carry it out correctly to make the next move. However, as my firefox crashed twice when attempting to play it, I am going to just leave you with the link if you so desire -