Creative software for the preschool set-- Buddy Brush

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999. First published in Vancouver Computes July 1999

Buddy Brush and the Painted Playhouse
Ideas That Play, Inc.
for Windows 95/98 or Mac computers

Once your child starts school, there?s a lot of software aimed at her or him?games and education, or the awkwardly-named combination of the two, ?edutainment?. But until then, parents of young children are trapped in a software wasteland.

Vancouver?s Ideas That Play, Inc. is hoping to change all that. With help from Telefilm Canada and BC Tel?s New Media Fund, they?ve released what they hope will be the first of a series of titles for the 2-5 year old set: Buddy Brush and the Painted Playhouse.

With big bright graphics, lots of music, and not a word or menu in sight, it?s well designed to be used by pre-readers, who often have a somewhat shaky grip on the mouse. And the music and little animated bits combine to keep children?s interest high. The program can be used by a young child, whether or not a parent or older sibling is around.

The program itself is basically pretty simple?as it should be for its target audience. There is a colour mixing activity where, just as in the real world, yellow and red makes orange, but unlike reality, blue and black makes polka dots. And unlike the real world, there?s no cleanup afterwards.  A series of colouring book pages, where the more colours chosen results in more interesting music. Finally, there?s  a collection of 30 musical puzzles?pick an instrument, click a scene, and try to make the picture come alive. It will take some exploring, however, for your child to discover all the puzzles?some children may lose patience before finding them all.

The program?s sturdy packaging doubles as an carrying case, complete with handle. Inside, along with the program CD, is a real 32 page colouring book, with the same scenes as in the program, and a set of eight cardboard frames in primary colours?the better to save your child?s masterpieces. (You can?t print out her or his paintings directly from the program?you?ll have to track them down on your hard disk and print them out in a real graphics program).

The 30 minutes of original music on the CD can be played on your home stereo?just be sure to skip the computer code on Track 1. The disk can run on both Windows 95/98 and Mac systems.

Buddy Brush should be a hit with any preschool computer user.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan