of interest to Gifted & Talented
children - Freeware and Demos
concentrates on software that can be used and enjoyed by all children,
but is flexible enough to allow children to develop interesting ideas of
their own. In some cases this is down to the free-form nature of the
program - e.g. Pivot Stick Figure, Crocodile Clips, Tower of Babel. In
other cases the software lets children master how the program works and
then take on the role of designing puzzles for others - e.g. Tangrams,
Scally's World of Problems, Incredible Machine Contraptions.
A 2D Physics program
that lets you build and experiment with mechanisms having realistic
physical properties. Objects can be connected with joints, springs,
pulleys etc. There are demonstration videos to help you get started. Free
Free download that lets you create
games on the PC and XBox via a simple visual programming language. Kodu
can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well
as programming. Lots of supporting videos and documentation.
My Doodle Game
My Doodle Game is a fun and creative
game-making tool, where you can literally draw your own games and then
play them! The application comes with some pre-made characters and
games. You can use these or just draw your own and build up a personal
Free PC download and also available
as an Ipad app.
Minetest is an infinite-world block sandbox game and
game-engine, inspired by Minecraft. Walk around, dig and build in an
infinite voxel world, and craft stuff from raw materials to help you
along the way. Multiplayer support via servers hosted by users. Runs on
Windows, Linux and OS X.
Game Maker allows you to make computer games,
using easy to
learn drag-and-drop actions. You can make games with backgrounds,
animated graphics, music and sound effects, and even 3D games! And
when you've become more experienced, there is a built-in programming
language. Tutorials on getting
started are available on the website.
An immersive, 3D wildlife simulation
game, WolfQuest challenges players to learn about wolf ecology by living
the life of a wild wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Players play alone
or with up to four friends in on-line multiplayer games. Free download.
Stickfigure Animator is a unique software, that allows you to create
stick figure animations easily and without any artistic skills. You
can move the sections of the sick figure and easily create a chain of
animation frames that can be previewed as you go. You can use more
than one stick-figure in the animation, and even create your own stick
figures using an easy to use visual editor that lets you assemble
objects out of lines and circles. You can optionally set
animation size, speed and more. The result can be saved as an animated
GIF file. Fun and easy to use, surprisingly well featured.
Stykz is an
alternative animation program (very similar to Pivot) available free
for Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
ArtRage is a
painting package designed to provide a realistic and fun simulation of
using paint on a canvas, along with pens, pencils, crayons, and other
tools. You can run ArtRage on a normal Windows machine with a mouse,
but it works particularly well if you have a graphics tablet. ArtRage
is all about playing with paint without the mess, and having fun in
the process. You can paint your own image from a blank canvas to
completed work, or load in a picture to trace and have the tools pick
their colours for you as you paint over it. The
starter edition can be downloaded free of charge. Examples
Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection
27 different abstract
puzzles that you can run on Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Neat
re-packaging of some well-known (and some not so well known) puzzles
in a portable format. You can download single puzzles or the whole
collection. 'Rectangles' is great for getting children to think about
the different ways of factoring numbers.
the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the
worldâ€™s largest humanitarian agency, Food Force is a
free downloadable game telling the story of a hunger
crisis on the fictitious island of Sheylan.
Comprised of 6 mini-games or missions, the game
takes young players from an initial crisis assessment
through to delivery and distribution of food aid, with
each sequential mission addressing a particular aspect
of this challenging process.
This freeware is downloadable here. You will need to
unzip the file and run Setup.exe
is a well known Chinese puzzle. The goal is to
form various shapes from 7 pieces. This program challenges
you to solve a large number of these puzzles. Puzzles range from very
simple ones for small children to difficult ones for adults. An editor
is provided that allows you create your own collections of puzzles.
You can even use different sets of pieces. The program is very easy to
use and help is provided within the program.
An updated (but no longer free) version of this software is available
with 2 other programs as
Roberts' ICT Problem Solving Kit'.
Crocodile Clips elementary
is a free download that helps teach the first principles of
electricity (Windows and Macintosh) It has an easy-to-use interface
and only the components you need at elementary level.
Crocodile Clips Elementary comes with a set of worksheets introducing
electric current and circuits, and you can also use the pictorial
components to build your own circuits, adding text and images as you
go. All of the circuits you design simulate just like in real life,
letting you experiment with electricity in a safe and enjoyable way.
Also worth downloading is the demo of
tool for studying programming and control
for 10-18 year-olds).
Ready to try something a
bit more complicated than Beetmaker? You will need to work your way
through the tutorials to get to grips with this software, but it's
well worth the effort.
is a dynamic graphical interface which enables children to create,
manipulate, edit and save original pieces of percussion music. Users
create sets of steps, ladders, trapdoors and other graphical elements
and cause balls to drop through their constructions producing musical
sounds. Each graphical element is carefully chosen so as to have an
equivalent musical meaning allowing fully intuitive musical
If you have trouble getting the
program to run check the instructions
Easy to use house design program. Create floorplans, add doors,
windows, stairs and furniture, then move through your house in 3D.
Useable by children 7+.
You need to provide your name details to download this free software.
Print-outs are watermarked 'not for commercial use', otherwise all
functions of the program are enabled.
Make your drawings
move! Wonderfully simple to operate - once you know how; you will
need to watch the video demos to understand how to operate the
Has a few bugs - but is well worth playing with.
lets you zoom from satellite altitude
into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience
Earth terrain in visually rich 3D.
You'll need a fast Internet connection and it's a big download to get
the program - but it's entirely free and the detail on American cities
is amazing. See the level of detail available for the UK
to access aerial views without installing any
software. N.B. choosing 'Microsoft VE' will give best results for most
Tower of Babel (XP or 98+Net)
site not available at present
- download from our site
The goal of
the game is to build the tower which will survive some period of time.
The height of the tower after this period is the final score. Every
tower must be placed in edit environment - open it first. You will see
that some points are surrounded by circles. Those are constant points
- you can attach your construction to them. You can use various
materials (available via popup menu) - steel, wood, steel rope and
even bungee. Every material has different properties - mass, max
length and hardiness. When the tower is ready - simulate it - the
final height achieved will be displayed after simulation time elapses.
You can upload your tower to see if you are the best engineer around.
1. Open edit environment (Menu File\Open Edit Environment)
2. Select tool (right click anywhere in the program window).
3. Left click anywhere to start building. You should see little circle
surrounding the start point.
4. Left click anywhere in the highlighted area to place first connector.
5. Build other connectors the same way. Remember -attach your
construction to one or more constant points or your tower will
6. When your tower is ready simulate it (Menu Simulate\one of the
7. In upper left corner you can see actual height of the tower and
simulation time left. Remember that what counts is the height of the
tower at the moment the simulation time elapses.
Download self-contained file
Arcimboldo painted many pictures building
faces from fruit and vegetables (and sometimes creatures, books and
other objects. Create a portrait using just fruit and vegetables (and
a few other odds and ends). Click the help button to see how to use
The META Learning
game for promoting discussion about the history of learning.
Includes four short
gaming environments: a prehistoric caveman learning by trial
and error; apprenticeship in a medieval
blacksmith's workshop; rote learning in a Victorian classroom and a
vision of learning in the future. Download is at the bottom of the
Use the arrow keys to move around and
space/enter to interact with objects.
Holding tab takes you forward to the
next screen or scenario.
Holding backspace takes you back to the
previous screen or scenario.
Escape quits the program.
is a modified version of the Alice program, which includes a
story-based tutorial, a wider range of pre-defined characters and a
selection of higher-level interactions already programmed in. This
makes the program easier to use for primary-age pupils interested in
programming and creating 3D worlds. Make sure you also download the
'Storytelling Alice Brochure' to help you get started.
Scratch is a new
free programming language that lets you create your own interactive
stories, games, music, and art.
See also Build Your Own Blocks
- an advanced version of Scratch.
See a video of this programme on the BBC site
MIT App Inventor
uses a Scratch-like system to let you program Apps for your Android
phone or tablet.
KidsRuby makes it
fun and easy to learn how to program. You can see your code, run it,
and see what it outputs all at the same time. You can use Turtle
graphics so to draw pictures or just have fun with colors.
Download program and examples (Windows and Mac OSX)
Sudoku is a puzzle game that became
very popular in various newspapers during 2005. It is a game of logic
rather than arithmetic.
a Su Doku puzzle, every digit from 1 to 9 must appear in each of the
nine vertical columns, in each of the nine horizontal rows, and in
each of the nine boxes. They range in difficulty from easy to very
hard, depending on the positioning of the numbers you are given to
The link takes you to a site where you can download a free version of
a program that generates puzzles of 3 different levels of difficulty.
an ingenious puzzle-game involving sliding blocks to allow bricks to
reach certain positions, providing a challenge for your logic and
sequencing skills. There are a wide variety of levels to download,
including a 'Junior' level.
Program a virtual robot using a flowchart. Draw a flowchart, run the
program and watch the robot execute your instructions. With RobotProg
you can learn the basics of programming by working your way through
In the final level, you can program several robots to play games in
the same arena.
To help get started download or view the tutorial at
RoboMind is a
first introduction to automation and programming without any
prerequired knowledge. The example exercises come in varying degrees
of difficulty -some of them are simple and can be solved relatively
quickly, while others require studying the program documentation and
considerable thought. Primary-age pupils can get acquainted with
writing commands to navigate the robot through its environment, while
older users can get to grips with programming structures and
Robomind is free for individual use.
combines both a real time game of strategy and an initiation to
programming. You are at the head of a space expedition and you are
assisted only by some robots. Your mission consists in successive
attempts at the exploration and colonization of various planets.
Great fun as an introduction to programming. Epsitec also have some
other interesting games
Bridge Construction Set - demo
Construction Set you design and build bridges and then stress-test
them to see how your creations hold up under pressure. When test
vehicles pass over your bridge and make it safely across you know
you've succeeded. If they plummet into the river you know you need
to go back to the drawing board.
World of Problems - demo
Scally's World of
Problems encourages a co-operative approach to problem-solving, and
when pupils have familiarised themselves with the roles of all the
maze icons, they can be further stretched to create their own puzzles
for others to tackle. This takes the activity and the learning beyond
problem-solving into the creative process, drawing on imagination and
Return of the Incredible Machine -
Contraptions - demo
Most recent of
the 'Incredible Machine' series.
Contraptions is an apt title
as you will be tinkering with various contraptions, or building your
own, as you strive to complete your task. Sometimes there is more than
one solution to a particular problem, and you can play around setting
the parts in place without stress as there is no time limit. Once your
contraption is ready you just click on the 'start' button to see your
handiwork and strategy unfold, or fall in a heap as the case may be.
The 'Incredible Machine' programs seem to be hard to obtain currently,
but are worth watching out for as they are all-time classics for
children who love problem-solving.
Crazy Machines - New Challenges - demo
Similar idea to the 'Incredible
Machine' series, with updated graphics.
Has been available in 3 versions - 'Crazy Machines', 'Crazy Machines
2' and 'Crazy Machines - New Challenges'. The link takes you to a
downloadable demo of 'New Challenges'.
The original game is available on Amazon
Fizzwizzle - demo
Professor Fizzwizzle is a puzzle
game, in which it's your job to help the diminutive prof to use his
brains and his gadgets to solve each of 230 exciting levels. As you
solve levels, photos in the prof's gallery are unlocked that'll reveal
him and his friends all over the world!
A wide variety of difficulty levels, with no time limits and your
progress saved as you go. Even make your own creations with the
in-game level editor!
Toblo is a fast paced capture the
flag game that takes place in a fully destructible block world. Pick
one of two teams: angels or demons. Play against intelligent AI bots
or against up to 4 friends over a Local Area Network. Interesting
collaborative game to play over your school network! Free download.
Real Lives - demo
Real Lives is a unique,
interactive life sim that enables you to live one of billions of lives
in any country in the world. Through statistically accurate events,
Real Lives brings to life different cultures, political systems,
economic opportunities, personal decisions, health issues, family
issues, schooling, jobs, religions, geography, war, peace, and more!
The level of language involved and the interpretation of data
involved makes this simulation mainly suitable for older children, but
also for very able children 8+ , though they may need some
encouragement initially to get over the lack of graphics and become
'involved' with their character. This program is like a realistic
version of games like the Japanese PrincessMaker with the same
fascination of watching the life-story of your character unfold. Real
Lives is now available in the UK from
MicroWorlds Jr - demo
Easy to learn and use
with simple, point & click operation, using
and comprehensive audio help.
MicroWorlds JR develops: creativity,
critical thinking skills
MicroWorlds JR encourages children to:
Explore mathematical and other
ideas such as number, geometry, patterns & movement.
Use iconic commands and the
turtle to create any type of project they can
Use the computer as a creativity and
Although the programming is done entirely through use of symbols
(making the program suitable for all ages - no reading necessary!)
this in no way prevents the creation of interestingly complex
projects. The all-time favourite version of Logo for Primary-age
N.B. demo does not allow printing or
saving and times out after 30 days.
Other favourite (commercial) software
Zoombinis games - Logical Journey / Mountain
Rescue / Island Odyssey
Article 'Using Zoombini's Mountain Rescue to develop children's thinking
and podcasts by the game's designer on the process
of designing the games
Age of Empires and Age of Mythology
Math Circus 1, 2 and 3
(and 4 & 5 - the remakes of 1 & 2) -
The SIMs (some expansion packs not suitable for
Simtown, SimCity, SimPark, SimSafari -
Starwars Droidworks and Starwars
Thinkin' Things 1-3 -
and other 'physics' games -
2Do It Yourself
- a program that
lets children create their own simple games and 'drag & drop' activities
- lets children
create 3D worlds complete with sets, characters, dialogue and music -
Samarost 2 and Machinarium - point
and click adventure/puzzle games from Amanita Design -
Minecraft Edu - educational version of
Minecraft with school-based server -