Learning Village Reviews > Educational Software > Social Studies > Castle Explorer

Educational: 4.5
Overall Design: 4.8
Ease of Use: 4.6

(4.0 = good, 4.5 = very
good, 5.0 = excellent)

Castle Explorer

Publisher:  Dorling Kindersley.

Learning: Detailed exposure to over 30 different aspects of daily life and living conditions of medieval castle life in Europe in the 14th century from spectator sports to making armour.

Age Range: 8 -12  Grades: 3 - 6

Minimum Reqs:  Win 3.1 95/98 or PowerMac (see below for detail)
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Program Description    Commentary    Who Is This Program For
Why We Selected This Program
  Computer Requirements

Castle Explorer is an exciting hands-on adventure that allows you to investigate life in the 14th-century.

The program gives you the opportunity to enter the castle as an honest page - a page is the name for one of the stages as a boy trains to become a knight - or as a spy. As a page you are allow to ask questions and explore the castle grounds freely, but as a dangerous spy you must carry out an important mission that the king has trusted upon you.

If you decide to be a spy, the mission has two parts, one finding answers to a scroll of questions that the king requires, and two, finding the map that shows the location of the baron's secret escape tunnel.

You choose your own disguise as a spy and as you explore, the program allows you to obtain valuable information about the castle and its grounds through its glossary of terms. For example, you are outside the castle and you do not know about some of the day to day events that are occurring on the grounds, you simply click on the picture and a box appears and defines or describes what is happening. As you gather information, you are able to move closer to successfully completing the mission from the king.

Elements of the program include video reenactments using live actors (see middle right), cutaway diagrams of the castle interiors (see bottom right), a library and a searchable database. You can zoom into magnified sections of the cutaways, choosing what and where to explore. Sound effects, pop-up screens and links to additional information are part of the experience.

You can lift sections of the roof to observe castle activities and dissolve brickwork to see what is on the other side.

This program gives a very tangible sense of what life was like in a 14 century castle and the world as it was in feudal times.

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Castle Illustration

A helpful guide

Detailed Illustration

Marius: "I really enjoyed playing the game. I didn’t realize how much l learned until we had a unit test on it."

Meiping: "l liked exploring the different parts of the castle. l never knew about all the stuff the peasants had to do each day."

Andrew: "The glossary really taught me a lot about daily life in medieval times, and it really helped me to understand what everything meant."

The program is for children between the ages of 8-12. It allows the child to learn the different aspects of an extremely interesting time period. A period in which children are becoming increasingly interested in through books such as: Harry Potter or other similar books of that nature.

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The CD is both fun and educational, the medieval theme directly relates to the fourth grade curriculum, and it also allows for individuals to use the program as an adventure. The program allows the user to obtain a great deal of information about daily life during the Middle Ages, particularly from the perspective of the worker. The CD is extremely easy to navigate and very user friendly. As a grade four teacher l used the program to reinforce many of the concepts and ideas discussed in class. The students enjoyed using the CD and did not realize they were actually learning and/or solidifying their knowledge of the time period and the way of life for them.

I recommend this program for individuals between the ages of 8-12, and it is especially useful to students studying Medieval Times. As an educator and parent, l found the program to be fun, interesting and non violent. It captivated the students in a fun way, and thought them about period of time without being structured as an educational tool.
Pricing and Online Ordering
(or call toll free -1-800-250-9229 )

Platform: PowerMac™ :CD-ROM, RAM : 16MB, Hard Drive: 20MB, Video : 256 color or better, CD-ROM: 4X or better, Other: Requires a 100 Mhz PowerPC or better

Platform: Windows® 3.1,: CD-ROM, CPU : 486/66Mhz or better, RAM : 8MB, Hard Drive: 80MB, Video : 256 colour or better, CD-ROM: 2X or better, Sound : Windows compliant sound device Mouse :

Platform: Windows® 95/98 CD-ROM, CPU : 486/66Mhz or better, RAM : 16MB, Hard Drive: 80MB, Video : Super VGA (640x480x256 colour), CD-ROM: 4X or better, Sound : Windows compliant sound device

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or to see other social studies learning programs

World Explorer (Geography) - ages 5-9
Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time (History) - ages 8-12
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego - 2002 ed. (Geography) - ages 8-12
Canada - Confederation to Present - ages 12 - adult
Real Lives Simulation - ages 13 - 17