PBS is synonymous with high quality educational content. They pioneered educational programming with the introduction of Sesame Street in the 70s and are now teaching a whole new generation of tech savvy kids through the new PBS KIDS Island.
PBS KIDS Island provides free reading games and activities for children ages 2-5 years, with additional content for ages 6-8 coming in 2009. Games on PBS KIDS Island guide children through seven different literacy- building levels, including rhyming, letter identification, alliteration, phonics, letter sequencing, phonemic awareness and reading/vocabulary. It is designed for home use or for use in the classroom and is available in Spanish and English.
Children start with basic literacy skills like letter recognition and are presented with more challenging tasks. PBS KIDS Island offers a total of eight levels of reading games and activities, starting with letter recognition and moving children along the path of learning to read with vocabulary and build simple sentences. Games specifically target rhyming, letter identification, alliteration, phonics, letter sequencing, phonemic awareness, and reading/vocabulary building.
Starting with the carousel, Little Miss Techie has been adding rides as she plays games with her favorite PBS KIDS characters from shows like Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Super Why, and Word World. She was thrilled when given a choice between soup cups and another ride to add to her Island. (She chose the soup cups, like tea cups but bigger!) I often look over her shoulder as we sit at our respective computers and watch her learn new skills as she progresses through the different reading skill areas.
When Little Miss Techie first started playing, she was presented with games that reinforced letter recognition. The more she plays, the more challenging the games become. I like the progression because it allows her to build on her skills. She loves completing the games within each level since she gets to add a new ride, like bumper cars, a roller coaster, or ferris wheel, to her island. Little does she know, each of the different rides feature skill-building games. Brilliant, don’t you think?
The games are fun and upon completing each game’s learning objective, kids receive tickets that can be redeemed for prizes. Prizes include show clips, printable coloring sheets featuring PBS characters, virtual stuffed animals, and short video clips. Little Miss Techie loves storing her prizes in her online treehouse. She can visit it as often as she likes and is able to make it her own hangout by changing the wall color, placing her new prizes in the space, and playing with her prizes. The engaging nature of the site and the fact that wants to earn tickets to obtain prizes motivates her to return to the site.
While Tech Savvy Daddy was concerned that Little Miss Techie would get hooked on playing to earn tickets towards prizes, I see the site as another tool to help her develop her beginning literacy skills. Every child learns to read in a different way and engaging children through interactive websites is highly beneficial when teaching critical reading skills.
PBS KIDS Island also features a progress tracker. It allows me to see what Little Miss Techie is up to when she’s on the Island. It tells me the last game she’s played, what she plays the most, how many tickets she’s earned and spent, and the number of times she’s logged in. It also gives me important information about the literacy skills she has practiced while playing on the Island. This helps me think about what kinds of activities I might want to engage her in at home in order to further develop her reading skills. The progress tracker is also especially useful for teachers who may be using this game in their classroom since it allows them to plan instruction to meet the needs of their students.
Besides all that I have already mentioned about PBS KIDS Island, the site also has links to printables, read-along stories and videos, and a reading activity calendar. I love the reading activity calendar because it gives me an idea something quick I can do with Little Miss Techie and Captain Computer to foster their love of reading. Tips include visit the library, make holiday cards a family project, planning to have some quiet reading time each night, and talking about the steps involved in handwashing. Easy right? See, we really have no excuses since PBS makes it so easy!
If the monthly calendar doesn’t provide enough tips, there are also parent and caregiver resources available in Spanish and English, a link to a bookfinder that allows you to search for books by age or theme, and tips for making the most out of your child’s TV time.
This site is not only a great learning tool, but also an incredible parent resource!
“When children are engaged, they learn,” said Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president, Children’s Media, PBS. “PBS KIDS Island takes children on new adventures to explore literacy development with trusted PBS KIDS characters, and provides teachers, caregivers and parents a measure of their child’s progress on core literacy skills.”
So true! Thanks PBS for another great site!
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama