April 5th, 2013
PBS KIDS PLAY! is an EdTech Digest Awards Finalist in the Academic Gaming Solution category: http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/2013-finalists-winners/. EdTech Digest‘s awards program showcases the best in tools and trendsetters in the education technology sector.
March 6th, 2013
Today we announced the addition of a streaming music player to PBS KIDS PLAY!
The music tracks, which include more than 25 songs from PBS KIDS programs, are free to all subscribers. (They cost $.99 each on iTunes.) Children may access the music tracks through a doorway in their “Home Room,” which leads to a new “Music Room.” There they can play songs in a streaming music player by simply clicking an icon. Teachers and parents will find the music tracks under a new Music tab under Activity Search in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Centers.
Music is known to have a positive, long-lasting impact on student motivation and learning. Studies have shown that it aids memory recall and language development, including for preschool through first grade. Songs can also help reinforce recently learned topics or themes, even prompting children to rehearse lyrics mentally or aloud long after a song is over.
The songs featured on PBS KIDS PLAY! are 60- to 90-second tracks with simple lyrics. They target key social-emotional themes and encourage nutrition and body movement for healthy development, with titles such as, “When You Feel So Mad That You Want to Roar,” “Calcium Yum Yum,” and “Hydration Nation.” The initial 25 music tracks come from the popular PBS KIDS program DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and the Web-original series FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB, with songs from other PBS KIDS series slated to join the line-up later this year.
February 27th, 2013
On February 27th we made an important change to the PBS KIDS PLAY! Assignments feature. When an assignment exists, the student’s “backpack” will now automatically launch full-screen when that student signs in. The goal is to focus student attention more on the assigned tasks, a feature change which has been requested by many educators.
Assignments can be made in either the Teachers’ or Admin Center under the Assignments tab. The assignments continue until you un-assign them. They are particularly useful for extended student absences or for interventions. If assignments are not used, the program will recommend content based on the student’s prior usage and progress – what we call “auto-pilot” mode. An example of how assignments display to students is shown below.
February 19th, 2013
Soon we’ll be adding a new Music Room that will feature streaming music from PBS KIDS TV series. While some music videos are already available in the TV Room, such as from Super Why, music requires far less bandwidth and many of the songs we’ll be releasing are unavailable as video clips. Kids will simply click an icon on the virtual MP3 player, shown below, and a song will start playing. We will launch with about 20 to 25 tracks and expand from there.
Why music? It’s been shown in studies spanning the past several decades to improve memory and retention of new concepts. Our videos will feature important topics such as social-emotional development and nutrition. Stay tuned for more information coming soon!
February 11th, 2013
Several Texas districts and schools, including Bastrop Independent School District (ISD), San Marcos ISD, Caddo Grove Elementary in Joshua ISD, and Calvary Episcopal School & College Preparatory, have recently rolled out PBS KIDS PLAY! to their Pre-K, Kindergarten and/or First Grade classrooms. In addition, Aldine ISD, a Houston area district of 75 schools, has incorporated PBS KIDS PLAY! Classroom Edition into a pilot program to supplement its early education activities. The public school districts and private school selected PBS KIDS PLAY! because it aligns to TEKS and Common Core State Standards, is highly motivating for students, and supports personalized and blended learning.
Bastrop ISD, for example, incorporates the program into 12 district classrooms, two daycare centers and five Head Start centers. Allison Higginbotham, a Pre-K teacher at the district’s Bluebonnet Elementary School has been using PBS KIDS PLAY! in her classroom since October 2012. Already, she has seen an improvement in language and social-emotional skills, as well as technology and computer skills.
“PBS KIDS PLAY! has been a significant asset to my Pre-K classroom,” reports Higginbotham. “The program targets a variety of age-appropriate, academic skills through interactive games that allow the students to work at their own pace and ability level. My students know all the characters from their favorite PBS KIDS TV shows, and the characters keep them motivated to continue exploring and learning.”
PBS KIDS PLAY! was showcased last week at the TCEA 2013 convention in Austin, Texas.
December 10th, 2012
A recent study published by the Concord Evaluation Group gave high marks to Curious George for its impact on early math and science learning. It’s great news for PBS KIDS PLAY! subscribers, since we have dozens of full Curious George episodes, interactive games, activities and lesson plans available as part of our program.
Here is a summary of the findings (N = 103):
- Children ages 4 to 5 demonstrated statistically greater knowledge of the specific science and math concepts measured than the kids in the control group. Concepts included buoyancy, sound, sorting and plant life.
- 86% of experimental group parents reported that Curious George helped them feel more confident with teaching their children about science and math.
- 94% of parents stated that Curious George gave them specific ideas about how to explore science and math topics.
Interested to learn more? Watch a brief two-minute video on the research findings and find the full study at http://www.pbs.org/parents/curiousgeorge/program/research.html.
November 12th, 2012
PBS KIDS PLAY! is a proud winner of Tech & Learning magazine’s 2012 Awards of Excellence (in the new school products category). A detailed description and judges’ comments will be featured in the magazine’s December 2012 Awards Issue. Tech & Learning announcement >>
October 17th, 2012
Starting today if you are a Home Edition Guest User, and you opted-in to receive communications from us, you will receive a daily tutorial email during your 10-day trial period. Their goal is to show you how to take advantage of every feature of the program. The emails are very short and will stop after the 10th day.
We hope you enjoy them.
September 4th, 2012
The new & improved Classroom Edition was just reviewed by Education World, a leading resource for PreK-12 educators. We’re proud to report that PBS KIDS PLAY! received 5/5 stars! Here’s the review >>
The most recent version of Classroom Edition just added a new “Assignments” feature where teachers can assign games and activities to individual students, groups or the whole class.
Coming next: For Home Edition subscribers we’ll soon be adding a new opt-in tutorial series that will walk you through how the key features work without lots of heavy reading…
July 25th, 2012
You may notice in your child’s “Home Room” a small link now displays in the top-right corner that reads “Show Hints.” Click this link to show an overlay of text descriptions for all the major product features that you can access from the Home Room. Click again (anywhere) to continue playing.