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Billy Goats Gruff

  1. Published by Yellow Door

  2. Communication, Language and Literacy

  3. Foundation Stage & KS1

KS1 Content Evaluation by Clare Treanor

Billy Goats Gruff is a comprehensive package combining several aspects of the Literacy Curriculum. The CD comes as part of an extremely useful pack containing wooden characters, pictures for retelling (in two sizes), an audio disc, lesson ideas and photocopy masters.
The interactive CD-ROM tells the story in prose with cartoon animations. The disc encourages a multi-sensory approach which encompasses story, rhythm, music and movement in the development of children’s language and literacy. A series of activities and teacher resource sheets are included which build up children’s skills, ready for writing or retelling their own stories. The onscreen activities include playing the story (spoken or not), listening to the song (with words or animated pictures), matching musical sounds to animals in the story, using the animations to retell the story and finding rhymes from the story. One further activity is for the children to begin to conduct their own research into one of three areas (bridges, goats and meadows). These screens are brief as they are an add-on rather than a main part of the program.
The teacher resources include writing frames, photocopiable pictures to aid retelling and sequencing, text to help ‘find the rhyme’, speech bubbles with or without characters and a word bank for supporting children with writing their own versions.
Billy Goats Gruff promotes all learning styles and involves much speaking and listening, phonic work, drama, role-play, retelling, recapping, character profiling and non-fiction research.

Supporting Documentation
The software is designed to enhance children’s story telling and use of vocabulary in a fun and interactive way. It offers the opportunity to explore stories through play, providing a solid foundation and meaningful context for literacy activities through a balance of teacher-led activities and child-centred, play-based learning. It is clearly linked to the Foundation Early Learning Goals and the Literacy Curriculum for KS1.
Billy Goats Gruff is flexible enough that it can be used in a variety of ways – as a block of two or three weeks work or as a stand alone listening activity.

Curriculum Relevance
Billy Goats Gruff certainly does live up to the claims on the packet. The links to the Early Learning Goals are clear, as are those to KS1 Literacy/Music Curriculum.

The opportunity for reaching reading Early Learning Goals such as initial sounds; rhyme and alliteration; communication; thinking; speaking and listening; joining in songs and rhymes; responding to music through movement; counting to three; sequencing stories; and role-play.

For Key Stage 1 a variety of genre is available such as narrative and non-narrative, non-chronological reports and poetry. In the narrative the children have the opportunity to rehearse story structure; retell traditional tales; to use a story structure for the basis of their own story; role-play; oral retelling; rhyming word identifying; character profiles. Non-fiction opportunities are research into goats, bridges or meadows (in varying detail). The children could focus on non-chronological report writing using captions, lists or alphabetical ordering.

Analysis of Contents
The content is appropriate from Foundation level to Year 2, depending on how the teacher chooses to use it. The vocabulary is suitable with some challenging words! The animations help to aid understanding.
All activities are suitable, both the activities onscreen and the paper based ideas. However, the non-fiction part seems to be added on without too much thought given to it. The information seems quite disjointed at times. The activities linked to the non-fiction can cause confusion – especially the task related to materials. One activity on the CD (bridges) was matching materials used to build – it was not very clear what the materials are (not labelled until put in correct place). Also the suspension bridge looks like it’s made from steel girders, but the program doesn’t allow you to place what looks like a girder in the spot. The correct answer is metal that looks like a tube which could be confusing.

The onscreen images and animations are very good, as is the sound quality. There are no links to the Internet with the story; no records of work are kept; courseware is limited (the same activity is repeated with no extension or change each time it’s accessed); and there is no option to save activities for monitoring purposes.

Billy Goats Gruff certainly does support inclusion, especially lower achievers. The sheer nature of the program, with the speaking and listening activities, role-play opportunities and differentiated supporting paper-based resources represent the best practice. The differentiation of onscreen activities is dependent on how they are used by the teacher, as the program itself contains only one level to work at.

Billy Goats Gruff is an excellent way to include many aspects of the Literacy Curriculum (Foundation Stage and KS1) in a fun and interactive way. Role-play, drama, music and storytelling play an important part of this package, especially as wooden character figures, an audio disc and picture pack are included. The program tells this traditional tale in two ways: prose and in a lively song. It can aid the development of language skills through strong rhythms, rhyme and alliteration, repetition, a familiar structure and a chorus for children’s participation. The vocabulary used is challenging at times, yet the animations will appeal and explain or open up the story to younger pupils.

The comprehensive accompanying book clearly explains how the activities link with the curriculum and suggestions for providing opportunities for high quality teaching, learning, questioning and thinking skills. Onscreen activities are easy to navigate and generally reinforce and enhance the story. However, the non-fiction section at the end seems less well suited to the story and is of a poorer quality. These screens would have a better use for whole class teaching points related to information texts (as text isn’t differentiated or read aloud) rather than for individual use. However, the paper-based teaching resources contained on the disc are of a good quality and reflect good practice.

KS1 Classroom Evaluation by Liz Cumbo

How I Used This Product in my Classroom

  1. used with headphones

  2. used by individuals

  3. used with teh whole class

I found this to be quite a unique title because it comes with a CD-ROM, an audio CD, a small set of cards and hard copy resources, and a delightful wooden Billy Goats Gruff set which includes the Troll, the three Billy Goats and a little bridge. These extra resources were great for adding to a story sack for the children to use independently or with an adult as a Literacy activity, or to go in the listening area. I used this title very much as a package not just as an ICT activity.

I introduced the program as a whole class activity using the interactive whiteboard, and we listened to the story first. This version of The Billy Goats Gruff is told in a very rhythmic way and with lots of repetition, so the children quickly got to know the story and chanted along to it. I used the CD-ROM both as a whole class activity and then later for small groups and pairs to follow and read along with the story independently.

The music disc contains a number of different versions of the story and is great to use in music lessons as each of the characters can be represented by different instruments and the whole class can be involved in the telling of the story.

Ease of Use - Design & Navigation

  1. easy to use independently

  2. logical progression of content

This software was very easy to use both for the teacher and the children, and my Reception class had no problems working independently, though they did accidentally exit the program a few times; a lock to prevent young children being able to do this would be a great feature! The software has bright, bold and colourful graphics with a simple, easy to use main menu from which the teacher can select the area they want the children to work on, or can direct the children to select themselves. The menu contains simple one word options that the more able children can read.

This is a very simple program and as the children do not log on as individuals no individual records are available. The interactive follow on activities are very simple and only take a couple of minutes to complete.

Context of Use
I used this title in my Literacy lessons in Reception but also made it available as an independent activity at other times during the day. We looked at the story of the Billy Goats Gruff and used the text to follow on the interactive whiteboard, instead of using a big book as I have done in the past. The program reads the text for you or you can read along to the text yourself, however there is no facility to highlight any areas of the text or to input your own, but you can explore the story and join it at any page from the menu.

The follow on activities are varied and are designed for different age groups making this title suitable for KS1 as well as Foundation Stage. The activities were quite brief usually lasting a couple of minutes; some are music based and the children have to match the sound in the story to the animal it represents, others are more Literacy based where children can re-arrange scenes from the story. For slightly older children there are information pages where they can research facts about goats and bridges.

As a follow on lesson I used the music disc which has various versions of the story in song form. The children really enjoyed playing instruments to represent each of the characters as they appeared in the song.

Monitoring & Assessment
This software doesn’t have a feature for children to log on as individuals and record their progress, so any assessment or monitoring that occurs needs to be done through working with the children or observing them carrying out the activities.

The program offers plenty of opportunities for children to practise using their mouse skills. They can follow the text as it is read to them, but my class of Reception children don’t yet have the reading skills to read along with this fully.

There is also a comprehensive instruction booklet that sets out a number of different learning activities and details the Areas of learning and stepping stones that the activity covers, or the National Curriculum Objective.

Feedback from Pupils and Other Staff
The software installed easily at the first attempt, it’s not a large program and so loads quickly. I didn’t run the software over the network in the ICT suite as the way I wished to use it was more suited to working in the classroom on a stand alone PC and an interactive whiteboard.

On the stand alone PC the program was easy to use, it opened immediately and each page loaded quickly without delay. Staff and children found the software very easy to use.

This is a great package that contains everything you need to build a mini topic around the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. There is a CD-ROM that contains the story and a number of different follow up activities supporting Literacy, Music and Science, a further CD which contains the song and the story in a variety of different ways, and a lovely set of wooden characters to encourage small world play around the story. The accompanying booklet contains a wealth of lesson ideas and ways to use the resources and other work that can stem off from this; to support these there are also a set of photocopy masters and some large and small picture cards containing scenes from the story. My class really enjoyed using these resources, they loved the story and sang the song constantly!