How the publisher describes it:
“Furbles are enchanting creatures that offer children a unique and imaginative insight into the links between data and graphs. Bar Charts, Pie Charts, Carroll Diagrams, Venn Diagrams and Tally Charts are individually presented in 13 colourful and engaging activities, encouraging children to constructively develop their understanding and interpretation of the different graph types.”
Review by Ruth Tanner
“These charming creatures with their roving eyes are sure to become firm favourites”
Suitable for 7 - 11 years
This is a delightful piece of software. The enchanting Furbles are guaranteed to bring a smile to both teachers and students alike. Furbles have three properties: their colour; shape and number of eyes. Clans of these colourful creatures can be produced randomly by the computer or can be specially designed, saved and recalled by the user. The Furbles are used to create a variety of graphs and charts. The Furbles move themselves gracefully into the charts before fading away.
Furbles has two modes: a set of Activities which students could work through on their own, in small groups or with a teacher and Explore Mode designed for use with an Interactive Whiteboard and a whole class.
One of the key features I look for in any software that I use in my classroom is flexibility - I want to be able to respond to what is happening in my classroom, especially if someone poses an unanticipated question. I do not want to be locked into some sequence of events set up for me by somebody else. It is clear that a lot of thought has been put into Furbles to enable this flexibility, whilst also giving a framework to work in and some activities to use.
Explore Mode is packed full of features which provide the teacher with a rich tool box with which to stimulate discussion and to develop students' understanding of graphs and charts. It allows teachers and students to ask questions and to test out their ideas. The user has control over the level of difficulty and the focus of the activity. I especially like the way it is possible to hide the current clan of Furbles and show a variety of graphs and charts. The properties of the Furbles used to make the charts and how many there are can then be discussed and revealed when required.
The set Activities are accessed via a menu to enable the level of difficulty, type of chart and type of activity to be selected. They are carefully designed to challenge students to think and to deepen their understanding. There is a record keeping system that can be used to record individual students' results if required. The activities get progressively more challenging, but the user can skip forwards and backwards through them as required. Each time you run any particular activity you get a similar problem but with a fresh, randomly generated clan of Furbles. So you are very unlikely to get the same problem twice and students working at neighbouring computers will get different problems.
The software is accompanied by a very helpful QuickStart leaflet and a User Guide in booklet form. It is quite refreshing not to have to print off pages and pages of an electronic manual! Using the QuickStart leaflet I was able to get going and enjoy some of the activities. Later I read the User Guide and discovered more of the features of the software. Both are well written, easy to follow and help to stimulate ideas for use in the classroom.
This is a very useful and enjoyable piece of software which is clearly well thought out in terms of developing students' knowledge, understanding and confidence with creating and interpreting charts and diagrams. The software claims to be for KS1 to KS3, but my Year 11 Intermediate revision class enjoyed using it to revise ratio! I will certainly use it at KS3 and sometimes KS4!
These charming creatures with their roving eyes are sure to become firm favourites in many classrooms.
Ruth Tanner • AST Mathematics, Lodge Park Technology College, Corby, Northamptonshire