[Letterpress Software (435) 755-5996]

         Among our entries this year were two excellent programs from Letterpress Software:
Neighborhood Explorers (presented by the US Department of the Interior, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Conservation Training Center), and The Furniture Training Website. Both were selected for an in-depth review.

Neighborhood Explorers is a delightful, free website for the early to upper elementary age group. The motivating element is that children explore nature in their own neighborhood and report back to the NX Club. The program's cartoon interface uses a tree house setting and children's voices - very effective for this age group. As dialog ensues, children digress seamlessly from one topic to another and real learning occurs, e.g., as Lucy considers our sources of food, she realizes that ingredients for pizza are derived from ordinary plants (tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.). Discussion evolves into how bees help pollination; growing herbs and flowers; organic vegetables that have no pesticides, and on and on.

         Hotspots in the tree house link to lessons about the environment, the habitat of animals, how litter in the park can create danger to animals, benefits of recycling, conservation heroes, invasive plants, endangered species, and more. Logging in is optional, but the advantage is that children can save bronze, silver or gold patches they earn after activities are completed.

         The Furniture Training Website has been given a facelift, and is now a streamlined vocational training tool with high quality, comprehensive videos and tutorials that simulate real life situations. The extensive courseware is appropriate for training managers who want to turn their staff into sales experts, storeowners who want to boost sales and increase profits, and sales associates who want to improve customer-relation techniques and sell more furniture.

         Subscribers will find (1) a
Dashboard area that includes implementation guides, a discussion forum, training schedules, and training podcasts (2) a Training area, which is populated with motivating, interactive videos and printable worksheets to teach essential skills in furniture product knowledge, room design, and selling with service. The room design tutorial was especially informative, as most families are faced with decisions about their homes at one time or another, e.g., choosing colors and design, placing furniture, determining the dominant wall and focal point, creating room spaces, planning for movement, and more. Video lessons are followed by a quiz (usually 10 questions), which reinforces learning. The program is an excellent resource for those seeking proficiency in this vocation.

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