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Crystal Rain Forest v.2: The Ultimate Logo and Problem Solving Adventure Review by Nancy King

Simon Hosler
955 Massachusetts Avenue #365
Cambridge, MA 02139-3233

Crystal Rain Forest, v.2, by Terrapin Logo Software has many educational benefits. It teaches students by giving them the language of Logo and showing them how to use that language to build many items. There is a special focus on geometry and estimating measures, angles, and shapes. This program also helps with problem-solving skills, planning skills, and environmental awareness.

I spent many hours on this program trying to figure out each little detail. (It would have been easier if I had simply followed the informative handbook that was included with the software, but I tend to be more of a hands-on kind of person.) I could easily see how a person could spend literally days on end using this program. There are three modes of use--Activity, Adventure, and Teacher (Whole-Class). The Teacher mode would be great for groups of children. In Activity mode there are many games to play, and the user learns to build bridges, buildings, and walls. The Adventure mode will help the child write routines, such as how to make a triangle or square using the programming language.

The following command, if done correctly, will make a triangle:
Forward 100 Right 120 Forward 100 Right 120
Forward 100 Right 120

The program is exciting to watch as it works after each command. This program can do more than just computer games and adventures. Moving across the screen is great, but actually writing the programming for the cursor to move at all is a big deal for any child or adult! This program is fantastic! Once I got past the amazement of drawing triangles and other geometric shapes, I worked with the other two modes: Adventure or Whole-Class. I loved playing the games, and there was only one I could not master, which was the rope bridge building exercise. The graphics in the games and adventures are nice too--lots of bright colors and a color palette so that the colors of diagrams can be chosen at will. I like the Teacher Mode because the teacher can keep track of each activity the children are working on. If a person stops in the middle of an exercise, the program will go right back to it when he or she logs on the next time.

At a price of $49.95, this program would be great for a classroom or for a family with multiple children. I love the program, but I probably would not buy it for just one child. Crystal Rain Forest is great for problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Product review by Nancy King, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2008